All good things must come to an end – and so it is for my beloved “Cougar Town.” Jules and the rest of the gang will be raising their glasses for their final toast as the series winds to a close this spring.

It seems like just yesterday we were following a cross-country bus tour to celebrate and save this wacky show and its kooky cast of characters. Now, on January 6, the show that TBS swooped in and saved will kick off its final season of 13 episodes.

For me, “Cougar Town” was love at first sight. In honor of the show’s final bow, let’s take a look at the top five things we’ve loved and hated about “Cougar Town.”

1. Hate the Name

Sometimes I forget that when I first heard about this show I was absolutely against it. And that decision was based solely on the name. As a single, divorced woman of a certain age who happened to date a couple 22-year-olds one summer, I was extra-sensitive about the whole “cougar” thing. I found it offensive, especially for someone “not quite” 40.

Apparently I wasn’t alone. The unfortunate name became a constant source of controversy. At one point everyone from fans to stars to the show’s creators were lobbying for a change. The name gave the impression that this would be a show of rabid, middle-aged ladies chasing younger men around the cul de sac.

But after tuning in, the lascivious name was quickly forgotten amid the contagious chemistry of the talented cast, the witty writing, and the many, many, many bottles of wine.

2. Love Big Joe and Big Carl

The world was first introduced to Big Joe in Season Two during a visit to a thrift store. Where others saw a repository for loose change, the visionary Jules saw the wine glass of her dreams.
Big Joe was able to handle a whole 44 ounces of Pinot Noir, but he provided Jules and the gang with more than a good buzz and the odd headache. Big Joe represented comfort and celebration. He may have been larger than life but his role was that of a loyal servant.

Sadly, Big Joe was broken in a careless accident in 2010. At his memorial service, Jules revealed his successor, Big Carl. Formerly the base of a lamp, Big Carl seamlessly transitioned to his new life at the center of Jules’ love affair with the fruit of the vine.

Over the past five seasons we’ve said goodbye to more inappropriately oversized wine receptacles (Big Kimo, Big Joe, and Big Chuck, just to name a few) but none have held a place in my heart like the two originals.

3. Love Penny Can

Penny Can is a game that was invented by Jules’ ex-husband, Bobby. The game has repeatedly been a source of joy for the cul de sac crew and its simple, but addictive premise is the epitome of the contrasting genius and idiocy that make up Bobby’s character.

At one point, Penny Can even looked like the million dollar idea that would finally move Bobby out of the land-locked boat and into a respectable home like everyone else. Ultimately the plan didn’t work out as hoped, but the game continues to offer opportunities for bonding and camaraderie. And, really, is that the kind of change we want to see for free-spirited, independent Bobby?

4. Hate Jules’ Son Dating Her Best Friend

While the role of Jules’ number one best friend will always go to Ellie, Laurie definitely earned her place in the best friend category. And, that said, it is just super-creepy that they hooked Laurie up with Jules’ son, Travis.

Maybe I’m a little old fashioned or just too bitter to believe that love conquers all, but this is a relationship that should never have happened. Imagine if the genders were reversed and Laurie was a man who started dating his friend’s barely legal daughter.

Ewwwwww!

Well, I say the ewwwwww definitely applies to Laurie and Trav. Admittedly, “Cougar Town” does a decent job of creating some sweet moments between the two, but that doesn’t forgive the absolute, skin-crawling, inappropriateness of this coupling.

5. Love the Friendships

The best thing “Cougar Town” has going for it has always been the fiercely strong friendships at the center of the story. Jules and her gal pals are just as entertaining and a hell of a lot more relatable than Carrie and her “Sex and the City” cronies.

The friendships among both the men and the women have history, private jokes, brutal loyalty, and crazy-stupid conflicts. But no matter what happens, these are people who will always choose each other over anything else.

Watching these relationships – and tipping back a glass or two of your own along with them – makes you feel like you’re part of the special bond. Even if it’s just for 30 minutes each week. It makes you appreciate your own friends and maybe be a little more forgiving the next time they’re driving you crazy.

The magic that has made “Cougar Town” a phenomenon is the bright, shining core of friendship that ties this hodge-podge of humanity together. And if their smiles, hugs, teasing, and laughter make us look a little more kindly on that creepy neighbor who just won’t go away, then I say that’s cause for celebration and another bottle of wine.