While the characters on Cougar Town seemingly lead lives of leisure (to the point where the creators revealed that every episode takes place on a Saturday or Sunday), the ABC comedy has faced constant struggle at every turn. From its widely despised title to its timeslot shuffling, the Cul-de-Sac Crew was never living on easy street.
Despite all that (or perhaps as a result of it), the recently wrapped third season was easily the series finest, deftly balancing broad comedy with deeply resonant emotional storylines. And the shining jewel of season three was Busy Philipps' winning performance as Laurie Keller, who remained adorably immature despite maturing significantly.
ETOnline caught up with the actress, who could finally add an Emmy nomination to her mantle of accolades on July 19, to discover her favorite season three moments, talk about the show's controversial move to TBS and find out how risque the show will get now that it's on cable!
ETOnline: This season of Cougar Town was much more interested in the emotional stories of these characters -- was that a conscious choice, or just the natural evolution of the storytelling?Busy Philipps: I think one of the things that Bill [Lawrence, creator] has been able to do so well on this show is create an entirely new sensibility than Scrubs had. This isn't just Scrubs with new actors, Cougar Town has a heart to it that's all its own. There was a warmth to these people and I think a lot of that stemmed from nerves that this would be our last season. Tonally, that's where some of it was coming from. But also, as a cast, we really love each other and I think the fact we want to keep making this show for the rest of our lives comes through the television.
ETOnline: We learned a lot more about Laurie this year. Did you have any favorite moments in particular?Philipps: I really loved that scene in the kitchen [from the finale], where Laurie is going to let Travis lick frosting off her finger and is suddenly like, "What am I doing?!?! I always do this to you!" You see the honesty between them in that moment, and I thought it was so great for her to acknowledge that was so important. But it is complicated and I like how messy it is. And maybe it'll get more complicated next year
ETOnline: The show has always hinted that there is more between Travis and Laurie than just friendship, but the finale really took a big step towards making that a reality. In the past, you haven't always been in favor of that storyline. Have you come around now that Travis is 21?Philipps: I feel like his age makes it more appropriate, certainly. Also, can we just acknowledge that Travis has aged faster than any character on TV, ever?
ETOnline: I'll give you that one.Philipps: It's fair to say. But I just think that's the natural evolution of the characters given how it's been written. I was super anti the first season and a half, but as their relationship has evolved on screen, I do find myself rooting for them a bit. The other thing is though, I kind of love Wade. He's such a great guy and such a nice match for Laurie too. I'm torn. Busy is torn too.
ETOnline: Laurie also opened a bakery this year -- in real life, you're a very proficient baker. Was that storyline inspired by your real love?Philipps: Yes! I think that's one of the things Bill Lawrence is very aware of. Not only does it make the character feel more real, but at a certain point, you need new ideas and at a certain point, you start pulling stuff from your actor's real lives.
ETOnline: Looking at the season, what was your favorite episode?Philipps: The Groundhog Day episode was one of my favorite episodes we've ever done. What I loved also is that Courteney [Cox, who plays Jules] didn't get it. Like, in real life. She thought the writers were just doing the same jokes over and over again. She hadn't actually seen Groundhog Day either and told Bill that maybe he should push the writers a little more to be original. That was just hilarious, and totally a Courteney thing to do. I also loved the season finale. I thought the wedding was really sweet and able to hit all these incredible notes without being over the top, or sappy. It made me cry.
ETOnline: Looking ahead to next season, is there anything you haven't gotten to do with Laurie that you'd like to try?Philipps: Full frontal nudity [laughs]. Everyone keeps asking if we'll be racier now that we're going to be on cable and I think we're all just gonna show our boobs every episode. If you have a problem with great racks, you probably won't want to watch the show. You know, I've gotten to run the gamut in three seasons. I really get to do everything with Laurie, it's kind of a dream.
ETOnline: Speaking of season four, which will move to TBS with a new showrunner, how are you feeling?Philipps: I'm excited and nervous. I think it's OK to have a mix of emotions. Change can be a very positive thing and, look, Bill and Kevin [Biegel, co-creator] will always have their voices represented. They are not disappearing completely but I'm excited to see what other stories our new writers and showrunner want to bring to the table. I haven't met them yet, but I'm excited to see their take on the show -- maybe it will be something we haven't explored yet.
Cougar Town premieres on TBS in early 2013.