The only people more flummoxed than fans over Cougar Town's inability to gain traction -- or respect -- with the bulk of America are the stars.
Everyone from Courteney Cox to Ian Gomez have expressed disbelief that simply having a shoddy title would keep people away from (what is in this writer's opinion) one of TV's most intelligent, heartfelt and uproarious shows. To hopefully lure a couple (million) more of you into watching tonight's episode, I chatted with Ian about Mel Gibson's "cameo," what you can expect from the season finale and how the cast is feeling about their season four prospects.
Insider.com: When I chatted with you on set a month ago, the general vibe was one of excitement -- and while the episodes have been incredible, the ratings have not been. How are you feeling about the show today?
Ian Gomez: Obviously we wish more people were watching the show. It goes without saying. But even though ABC cut our order and no one knows what the future holds, we all feel really good right now. The writers did some hilarious work and we had a ball. It's been a slow start, but I'm confident it will pick up – and the network is really behind us. I think we'll be back for season four.
Insider: So fans who are worried creator Bill Lawrence's new show spells doom for Cougar Town shouldn't be worried yet?
Ian: We're getting emails from Bill Lawrence saying "Nothing is over yet! Call your hometown, get them on Facebook to talk about it." We're doing it very much grassroots. He still loves the show and is very much involved – he's really trying. If Bill gave up, I think the rest of us would too. I mean, we've all been around the block a few times and know that these things happen. But he's still fighting so hard for us to get a fourth season, so we're all fighting hard too. It's a good show and, I know this sounds trite, but this is the best job I've ever had and I don't want to give it up.
Insider: All right then, lets get fans excited -- what can they expect from tonight's show?
Ian: Courteney [Cox] directed tonight's and we have this rivalry over who does the most for the neighborhood – everyone picks Jules, but then she needs Andy's help, so she lets me be the Cul-du-Sac Braveheart. She paints me up with lipstick and I do this horrible Scottish accent that I stole from Mel Gibson while on a fake horse. This episode was definitely one of the highlights of the season for me.
Insider: You've done Braveheart and Shawshank Redemption homages -- what movie would you like to tackle next?
Ian: [laughs] Oh man, well, something from The Godfather would be great. Apocalypse Now maybe. It's gotta be a heavy drama. I'm also a huge fan of Peter Falk & Alan Arkin's The In-Laws.
Insider: Speaking of, I hear we meet Ellie's parents this season. How do they stack up to Andy's family?
Ian: We will meet Ellie's mom last this season, played by Susan Blakely. There's tension there, for sure. The thing with Andy's family is that their emotions were out there – if they were angry, they fought. With Ellie's family, it's a little more covert and passive aggressive. It's different levels of awful family situations.
Insider: Filming on season three has wrapped -- tell me, did Bill stage a giant cliffhanger in order to force ABC to renew the show?
Ian: No. Bill's not a fan of the cliffhanger. If there's a pending event, he'd rather wrap that up and then deal with what happens as a result of that next season. The consequences of people's actions are more interesting to him than the "Will They? Won't They?" of it all. This year ties up Jules & Grayson's relationship but there's so much more we could explore in a fourth season. It's a season ender, not a series ender.
Insider: Is that the message you'd like people to leave this interview with: see you in season four?
Ian: At no point did we approach a single moment thinking this would be the end of the show. We have confidence in the show and it's business as usual. Yes we had a shorter season but that just means the writers held back some storylines for next year – if the network does end the show, it's because they don't know good TV [laughs]. I'm very confident we'll be back!
Cougar Town airs Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m. on ABC.