There’s a lot I don’t know about how network television works, and, for the most part, I’m okay with that. I accept the fact that Private Practice got picked up even though the pilot was almost unwatchable, and I accept the fact that Life As We Know It (2004) wasn’t even given a full season. What I can’t accept is the fact that NBC decided to air Bent, a new half-hour comedy, with a midseason premiere and little to no publicity.
Created by Tad Quill, who’s previous work includes Scrubs and Samantha Who?, Bent revolves around a newly divorced single-mother, Alex, who hires immature, but loveable, man-child, Pete, to renovate her kitchen. It’s the classic hot, uptight working woman meets hot, free-spirited contractor.
Now, nothing, as far as I know, has been decided about the fate of Bent, but it doesn’t look good. Why, you ask?
Bent premiered March 21st with two episodes, competing with ABC’s Wednesday night comedy line-up. NBC went on to play two new episodes a week, until the six episodes were up—yes, I said six episodes—making last week’s April 4th episodes the season finale. The way NBC seemed to throw away a gem like Bent really disappoints me, because this show actually has potential. If it had been given a fair shot, I think it would have grown into a really great show. Instead, based on how NBC chose not to give it a chance, I’m trying to come to peace with the fact that it will, in all likelihood, not get renewed. If, by some miracle, this does not come to pass, I will be happy to welcome Bent back in the fall (cross your fingers!).
What makes Bent feel fresh is the cast, who embraces the rom-com setting while making it relatable. David Walton, who plays Pete Riggins (a nod to Friday Night Lights perhaps?), does a great job of making Pete endearing. When I first started the pilot, I honestly believed that he would be the weakest link, not because of his acting ability, but because of his character. Pete is the kind of guy who uses Barney Stinson worthy pick-up lines and doesn’t regret anything in the morning. And, yet, David Walton makes him charming.
Amanda Peet, as Alex, really rises to the occasion, and, in my opinion, makes the show truly worth watching. Amanda Peet has been on my list of underrated actresses for a while (A Lot Like Love, anybody?), and I was so excited to get to fall in love with her on the one season wonder Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (2006-2007)—another casualty of NBC. Not only is she a talented dramatic actress, she is also hilarious. She is more than willing to make herself ridiculous while still maintaining some self-respect—a quality rarely seen in women on television. Alex is a lawyer, mother, sometimes fumbling divorcée, and Amanda Peet delivers every line like a pro. It’s definitely refreshing to see a female character like Alex as a lead in a comedy show. And it’s awesome to see Amanda Peet on my television again.
Other members of the well-rounded cast include Jeffrey Tambor as Pete’s struggling actor father, James. Tambor adds great dramatic flair to every breath of his character and has great chemistry with his make-believe son. Not to mention, the developing relationship between James and Alex’s daughter, Charlie–played by Ramona and Beezus (2010) star Joey King–is a great subplot. Add in a rag-tag construction team—featuring Friday Night Lights (2006-2011) alum Jesse Plemons (swoon)—and you’ve got a cast worth watching. Unfortunately, it seems that NBC doesn’t feel the same way.
Have any of you watched Bent? What were your thoughts on the show? I’d love to hear what you all think in the comments! You can find full episodes and more information on the show here.