Reality Bites: Extreme Cougar Wives
Here we see rare footage of a cougar attacking a bear in the wild.
There are a million reality shows on the naked television. We're going to watch them all, one at a time.
"The heart wants what it wants." How many terrible acts have been justified by those six words? I don't doubt there are many cases where true love blooms only after one of both parties are inconveniently attached to someone else, but my suspicion is that the excuse is used more often to rationalize your inability to see the grass is perfectly green on your side of the fence.
There are many other platitudes about l'amour that are thrown around to make us all feel a little warmer as we hurtle through the vast, uncaring void. One I'm particularly fond of is Shakespeare's "They do not love that do not show their love," which only goes to prove the Bard never saw Extreme Cougar Wives.
I don't even remember when "cougars" became a thing. Did it start with Mary Kay LeTourneau? I'm going to assume so, as I'm too lazy/drunk/illiterate to look it up.
We start our journey with Jude and Kevin. Jude is 53, and Kevin is 21. They first hooked up at a high school dance (where she was a chaperone), and he dated Jude's daughter in junior high. Cool, we're not even five minutes into this thing and I need a fucking shower. Oh wait, I hadn't gotten to the part where they talk about the first time they had sex.
And did I mention Kevin still lives with his parents? How bad was Jude's previous marriage that this barely out of peach fuzz kid seems like a good prospect? Anyway, the parent thing will come into play later. In the meantime, Poor Kev doesn't have anyone from his family to stand up with him at his and Jude's "handfasting," which is some sort of wedding ceremony usually practiced by hippies. He breaks the news to his older brother, Scott, who abosorbs it all with solemnity and respect. Just kidding, he accuses his little bro of "not knowing what love is" and the like. If only they'd broken into that Foreigner song as Kevin stalked off in a huff,
Great story: I watched that Foreigner video three times after finding the link because that song figured prominently in one of my many failed 1980s relationships. Also because I am a tremendous sap.
Scott shows up at the ceremony (side note: Kevin is wearing Jerry Seinfeld's pirate shirt), having the good taste not to chuckle during "So mote it be." Though speaking personally, if someone had invoked "the love of the Old Ones" at a ceremony I was attending, I'd have rolled for SAN loss and gotten the hell out of there.
Of course, the biggest problem is Kevin's parents. And I confess to being a little confused, as they appear to be aware he and Jude were "together," but have an issue with the marriage. Whoops, and they thought Jude was 43, not 53, which makes her older than Kevin's actual mother. CHECK PLEASE.
Let's move on to 76-year old Hattie, who only gets with dudes under 30 ("gets with" is the new hep slang for "pork until they have recurring Coccoon-related nightmares"). We follow her around as she buys bananas in Hell's Kitchen, hits on her pedi-cab driver, and describes how her "juices get flowing" when she meets a prospective stud. She dresses like and elderly Lady Gaga.
Hattie has a blind date with 29-year old Mikey, who says, "I just met you and I feel very comfortable with you." That's because SHE REMINDS YOU OF YOUR GRANDMA. Then again, I doubt Mikey's actual Gram Gram would cop to banging 18-year olds, like Hattie mentions over apertifs. I realize it's not technically a crime, since the guy was 18, but surely we need some sort of guidelines. Something like: if your birth predates the Truman Administration, you shouldn't be allowed to have sex with someone who doesn't remember rotary phones.
Anyway, they go on a second date. But that doesn't stop her from hitting on the exceedingly hairy 25-year old dude at her building's pool. I mean, Jesus, the guy could be related to Chewbacca. But he's not biting. Finally, someone with a sense of shame. Now if only he'd extend that reasoning to buying a set of dog clippers.
Finally, we have Stephanie (65) and Octavio (28). She met him when he was bartending some time after her first husband died while making love. From that perspective, hooking up with a younger dude makes ... sense? There's also a delightfully uncomfortable scene where three more age-appropriate women (mostly unsuccessfully) attempt to hide their discomfort with the PDAs between the two.
And it only gets better, by which I mean much, much worse. Whatever your thoughts on May-December (or February-New Year's Eve) romances, there's nothing technically or legally wrong here. However, if you were worried the network was going to approach the subject of older women dating younger men with a modicum of seriousness, well, you obviously haven't watched Honey Boo Boo yet.
Octavio takes Stephanie to the beach with his friends so they can get better acquainted, then seems perplexed when gay friend Ricky disapproves. That's because he thinks you're gay, too. And in retrospect, he might be right. Of course, for all I know every single Los Angeles guy in his 20s is strangely effete and dresses like the Vegemite sandwich guy from the "Land Down Under" video.
[I think I know why this show keeps sending me back three decades, it's because that's when all these women would have been age appropriate for their respective men.]
I liked at the end when we were asked, "Are you an extreme cougar interested in sharing your story?" It's exactly the sort of thing you'd have seen at the end of Maury or The Richard Bey Show, and proves TLC's journey to the Dark Side is complete.
Get the Theater and Arts Newsletter
Exclusive discounts and announcements to Houston theater shows and art events