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"The Cougar" is more like a pussycat

THE SHOW "The Cougar"

WHEN|WHERE Tonight at 10 on TV Land

REASON TO WATCH Until "The Bachelorette" arrives May 18, there's this.

WHAT IT'S ABOUT Stacey Anderson, our 40-year-old cougar, is mother of four, a divorcee and looking for the fulfillment of a lifetime. Then, there are her much-younger suitors. They offer opening lines that will perhaps convince her he is The One, like "You're under arrest. You stole my heart. You have the right to remain delicious." Another recites bad poetry of his own creation; Stacey believes it to be "Shakespeare." Then, there's "The Kiss-Off." One by one, each guy must come up to her and get a kiss. If she kisses him on the lips, he goes forward to the next round. If she turns the cheek, his cougar-hunting days on prime-time TV are over. Produced by "The Bachelor/Bachelorette's" Mike Fleiss. Vivica A. Fox is host.

BOTTOM LINE What exactly is a "cougar"? Definitions vary. In last month's GQ, the magazine's editors put together a guide for the curious and came up with various categories, including the "Rabid Cougar," with Madonna as an example ("You know [the Rabid Cougar]. She's up in first class, two margaritas over the line, and she'd better get some more cocktail peanuts or she's going to kill a flight attendant every hour until her demands are met"); the "Forbidden Cougar" (Katie Cougar ... er, Couric as an example); the Original Cougar ( Tina Louise); or the Born Cougar ( Lindsay Lohan). It even offered would-be Cougar hunters pickup lines ("Do you mind if I take off my shirt to clean your pool?"). But nowhere in this guide does it say how old a cougar should be. Stacey, honestly, seems too young to be a cougar. The guys? They all seem too young, too -- or too sad, hamfisted, prepubescent or just plain desperate to be successful cougar hunters. (One of them is even a poolboy.) Sure, "The Cougar" is idiotic -- these shows always are. That's a large part of their appeal. But casting fouled up here. What was needed was a Rabid Cougar, who would chew up, then spit out these panting puppies one by one. Now that's entertainment.

GRADE C-

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