Courteney Cox as a woman contemplating a sexless existence is a stretch of the imagination. And yet, in her new series Cougar Town where she plays a recent divorcee, Cox’s character is so worried about having to navigate the dating terrain once again, everything she does, she does with desperation.
As Jules Cobb, an estate agent in Florida, Cox disrobes frequently, dates younger men and is caught performing a sexual manoeuvre on a chap closer to her teenage son’s age than hers.
It’s Cox’s first comedy series since Friends, and it’s fair to say anyone hoping for a re-run of her prissy alter ego Monica Geller may be in for a shock.
The show initially aired in the U.S. last year to mixed reviews. Some praised the frantic pace of the action, while others wondered why Cox was playing a woman with dating problems.
But as Cox, 45, says: ‘I love playing Jules and the show says what I actually think.’
She’s been married to actor David Arquette for ten years, and has a five-year-old daughter Coco, so it’s not immediately evident how she could bear resemblance to her Cougar Town counterpart.
Grabbing at sexual opportunities, Jules finds herself thrust into situations of varying degrees of embarrassment, all observed by her friends, her ex-husband and their 17-year-old son.
Cox imbues her character with a great deal of warmth. ‘What I love about this character is everything’s real,’ she says. ‘At one point she says that all the men out there are either broken, gay or getting younger girls. It would be really scary if I had to go back out there again. It’s hard. Getting older is hard anyway.’
When you look like Cox of course, things do become easier. She is candid about the use of Botox and the worries that beset actresses in Hollywood, although in a pink Marc Jacobs top and a leather skirt, she is trim, toned and perky.
For a woman who once confessed that she was ‘already worried about getting older when I was 30’, she doesn’t look like someone who has an awful lot to be scared about.
‘I am just really well lit,’ she laughs. ‘Trust me, people don’t look the way they do on television in real life.’
In this week’s opening scene, Jules examined her naked body in the mirror for signs of ageing.
Cox’s own crisis occurred in a somewhat different form. ‘When I turned 40, I was lying in bed with my daughter,’ she says. ‘I had given birth two days before, so was thinking: “Oh my God, how am I going to give this back to someone?” Turning 40 is hard for women, but I was fine in the end.’
Much has been made of Cougar Town’s title, which makes reference to women of a certain age whose intent it is to pursue much younger men.
Cox, however, has little problem with the title, for, as she says: ‘I’ve been blazing that trail for 10 years now. My husband David is much younger than me (there is a seven-year age gap between them) and I think it’s great to be a cougar.’
As Cougar Town has been renewed for a second season there has been speculation over which stars will make guest appearances – hopes are high that quintessential cougar Jennifer Aniston may.
‘Jennifer loves the show,’ says Cox, ‘I’m sure she’d be glad to do it.’
- Cougar Town is on Living TV at 9pm Tuesdays