This Tuesday night, TBS’ Cougar Town puts a cork on Season 4 with a double-helping of episodes kicking off at 10/9c and setting the stage for romance, finally, for Jules’ son Travis and her wild child sidekick Laurie.
As last week’s Breakfast Club-by episode closed, the longtime platonic pals realize “they’re on the same page. They now know that they like each other,” Dan Byrd tells TVLine. “But how do they transition their relationship from what it’s been their entire lives into something different? As well all know, that is no easy task a lot of times.”
The first step, of course is The First Date, but even that proves problematic for the potential lovebirds. “I don’t want to give too many specifics and ‘mess up the journey’ for people, but one of the things they do is sit and try to watch a movie together, with the idea that maybe things will get romantic,” Byrd previews, “but they end up just sitting and watching the movie!”
The other threshold to cross is The First Kiss, which gives Travis, in particular, some anxiety. As Byrd explains, “Laurie is kind of at the wheel, in that she is the older, more experienced one, so Travis tries to man up and take charge of the situation. But he’s definitely scrambling.”
All told, Byrd describes the road immediately ahead of the would-be couple “as kind of bumpy,” which makes all the sense in the world. “The way they’ve done the Travis/Laurie thing, that back-and-forth with them both sort of conflicted about the situation, seems like a good way to go about it,” the actor observes. “I think it will all build to a nice climactic moment at the end.”
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In fact, Byrd admits that braving this new territory wasn’t the easiest feat for him and scene partner Busy Phillips, either. “I’m not going to lie — it was weird for both of us. We’ve been working together for three or four years, so we’ve definitely developed a great rapport, but it’s much more on a brother/sister level than one exhibiting any type of other tension — which I think is the healthy way to go about it given that she’s married, has a child, and has another one on the way!” he says with a laugh. “But that’s your job as an actor, to pretend and get outside of yourself.”
Adding to any anxiety was the fact that Cougar Town, dating back to its ABC run, long ago planted the seed for romance to one day bloom between the besties. So expectations are high. “I was excited to see the relationship between them evolve and mature into something else, because I think that will be interesting for the show,” Byrd notes, “but there’s definitely pressure. You want it to come to fruition in a way people will be excited about.”
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However the season finale ends, the good news is that the aftermath can be explored — and much more grape can be pounded by the Cul-de-Sac Crew — now that the show has been renewed for Season 5.
“We knew the intention when [TBS] initially picked us up was to do two seasons of 13-15 episodes, to put us in syndicatable territory, so we were ‘hopefully optimistic,'” Byrd recalls. “But I’m definitely relieved and comforted by the official news.”