Tag Archives: Friends with Benefits

Cougar Town – “Feel a Whole Lot Better”

“Feel a Whole Lot Better”

May 5th, 2010

In Scrubs’ first season, J.D. and Elliot were two people who should logically be together: they were clearly attracted to one another, they were both young and attractive, and they were the male and female leads on a television comedy series. However, in the span of a forty-minute episodes entitled “My Bed Banter & Beyond,” the two characters decide to embark on a relationship after spending a day in bed having sex and chatting about the future of their relationship. The episode cuts back and forth between their time in bed on that first day and their attempts to make the relationship work in the real world, and at the end (spoiler alert), they realize it was all a mistake, and just as we finally see them part as young lovers on that first day we see them broken apart a few weeks later. It was a really fantastic episode of television in terms of breaking down and psychoanalyzing the show’s decision to not follow through on that pairing, and it was the sort of subtle and effective storytelling that would abandon the show and that relationship until the show’s eighth season.

I was just saying to my friend Colin yesterday that Cougar Town is shaping up into a spiritual successor to Scrubs in certain areas, so it’s fitting that the show would introduce its own play on that episode and its functions with “Feel a Whole Lot Better,” another in a pretty long line of really strong episodes for the show. Playing out the “Will They, Won’t They” outside of the thralls of young love and within the dynamics of two divorcees trying to keep from being lonely for the rest of their lives, the episode plays out the consequences from Jules and Grayson’s hookup last week by having the characters lie to themselves about the dramatic conflict apparent in the story. While the episode skips over some of last week’s subtexts that could have made this even more complicated, they manage to squeeze in a lot of story which transforms last week’s hookup into something definitive.

And thus the transformation from “What the hell is this” to “the new Scrubs” continues.

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How I Met Your Mother – “Benefits”

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“Benefits”

January 12th, 2009

Ted Mosby is a jerk.

This is a fact that, when How I Met Your Mother addresses it, is one of the character’s most entertaining qualities. When Ted is held on a pedestal like the last great defender of romance in today’s young people, though, the show screeches to a halt: unless the result is as charming as “Ten Sessions,” it is inevitable that we will not feel nearly as in love with Ted as he and the show are in love with his view on love and marriage.

But when the show is willing to actively present Ted as a jerk, someone who is doing something that is kind of cruel, kind of mean, and ultimately hurtful towards people he cares about, I like him a lot more in terms of his role on the show. As Ted and Robin enter into a friends with benefits relationship, we know as an audience that this is hurting Barney, who is in love with Robin, and the show is smart to let that period linger in a series of entertaining montages as opposed to swept under the rug to keep our “good guy” from being sullied.

We know from moment one that this is all a monumentally bad idea, but letting it play out in “Benefits” (even if the conclusion could have been, well, more conclusive) gives us a great chance to see these characters in some of their best roles.

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