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Is 'Cougar Town' prowling for a name change?

September 14, 2011 |  2:07 pm

Hold on to your cocktails -- the "Cougar Town" name change may be on again.

The producers of Courteney Cox's ABC sitcom about a band of middle-aged drinking buddies have been agonizing for months about whether to change the title of the show. Although they have as yet to take the plunge, it looks like a switch could be in the offing very soon.

"Those that loved title 'Cougar Town' ... not around much longer," executive producer Bill Lawrence tweeted last week.

Many critics really never cared for the title, inasmuch as it relied on a stereotype of a sexually aggressive older woman trolling for much younger men. Lawrence originally defended the name as a choice that would make "noise" in the marketplace, but he has since come to detest it openly. One reason is that the show quickly moved beyond Cox's dating foibles and on to her adventures with alcohol. Another rationale for a change, according to Lawrence: Research has shown that men don't like "cougar" in the title and resist the show even after being shown an episode that they say they like.

That's a big problem, since "Cougar Town" has been stuck with mediocre ratings and Lawrence says it needs to improve to avoid cancellation. The show is currently slated to return in midseason.

Officially, ABC isn't commenting on the name change, but such switches are risky. Fans have already grown accustomed to the old name; meanwhile, the prospect of a new title might not do much to persuade viewers who have already rejected the show.

But Lawrence seems determined to go ahead. One popular suggestion for a new title is "Friends With Beverages." Lawrence tweeted that "Drinking Age" got a thumbs down, but "Sunshine State" might be back in the running. Through his agent, Lawrence did not respond to a call requesting further comment.

Whatever happens, Lawrence said only the title will change, not the show. "Just need more peeps," he tweeted.

What do you think of the proposed new titles?


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Photo: Executive producer Bill Lawrence with Christa Miller and Courteney Cox on the "Cougar Town" set. Credit: Karen Neal / ABC