With The Cougar, TV Land paws the dating competition genre with a twist - the cultural phenomenon of older women going out with younger men, or so says series host and chaperone Vivica A. Fox. (Check out a show clip here.)
The series initial installment is typical of the genre - a mass meet and greet with 20, twenty-somethings and their prey, 40-year-old Stacey Anderson. The commercial realtor and mother of four (she was married at 16) from Scottsdale, Ariz. is certainly attractive in her black dress and seems nice enough as she's introduced at a house in LA. Promisingly, she purrs that's she in her prime and so are the fellas, both outside and inside the bedroom. Then, there's the line about feeling like Eve in the garden of forbidden fruit.
But unlike similar series on sister services MTV and VHI, the introductions were not nearly as rude and crude, which may or may not play with the younger end of TV Land's 40-54 target audience. In fact, most of their solicitations for "alone time" were downright polite, and in one instance poetic -- not in a rapper's kinda way.
I don't know what it says about the show or this reviewer who, not a huge genre watcher, was able to identify three of the five that got Stacey's cheek in the show's "kiss-off" selection/elimination motif. Then again, Bodie, who professed to be a lamb, "sweet and tender" and unemployed "southern gentleman" Kevin, whose reference to an Australian kiss -- like a French one, except "down under" -- made them obvious picks.
While previews suggest more intimacy, less clothes and Stacey exposed, the show, unless it defies genre conventions, will turn on whether the candidates, one of whom told Stacey that bears and cougars get along, behave more like wolves. Maybe, there's (a middle-aged or otherwise) fantasy with the pursuit of a Fox, too. Never mind!
Or, maybe that's next year's show.
The Cougar premieres on TV Land April 15 at 10 p.m.