This week Amber West and I review two new 2012 midseason comedy replacements on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – ABC’s Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23 and NBC’s Bent.
Comedy seems to be at the top of this year’s midseason replacements with many of the networks picking up new sitcoms. While it is annoying to watch our favorite series end a bit early this year, we can also see the upside to introducing these new programs in April so that the decision makers don’t necessarily cancel a popular show just to test the waters with a pilot (we’ve seen that happen one too many times). With this in mind, we’re tuning in to these newbies and trying to not hold any grudges.
Bent follows recently divorced attorney, Alex (Amanda Peet), as she tries to pick up the ”bent” pieces of her life post-divorce. With sole-custody of her daughter, Alex buys a small home that is in need of renovations. She hires Pete (David Walton), a contractor who is a recovering gambling addict trying to pick up the pieces of his “bent” life as well.
Alex and Pete are nothing alike — Alex is a responsible person with a no-nonsense personality, while Pete flies by the seat of his pants. From the first episode, we could already smell the romance brewing between these two and we wonder how long it’s going to take before they get together. But wouldn’t that be the kiss of death for the new sitcom? TV audiences have proven over the years that they like the chase and romantic tension between leads, and ratings plummet once the couple gives in to their sexual urges (we’re specifically thinking of Moonlighting here and hoping we don’t see the same fate with Bones). Not to mention, Alex has a serious boyfriend (Ben, played by Matt Letscher) who can also sense the attraction between Alex and Pete and who conveniently intervenes anytime the two get too close.
That’s right — Bent has a love triangle…
The two leads aren’t the only ones living “bent” lives. The new comedy also stars Jeffrey Tambor as Pete’s “bent” father, Walt. Walt is a struggling actor working feverishly to land a new agent since his has recently died. We’re led to believe he’s never really had a successful career, but he’s positive and has never given up hope. Walt’s life is also “bent” considering he is still madly in love with his ex-wife (played by Marcia Gay Harden), who is a successful stage actress over in Europe.
Pete knows the flame still burns between his parents, and he knows that his mother will tug at his father’s heart strings before returning to her life overseas; therefore, he tries to keep the two apart. Pete’s reaction to his parents is almost a realistic, rather than an optimistic approach which is a nice deviation from most fictional characters on television today.
The series also stars Margo Harshman (Sorority Row) as Alex’s sister, Screwsie. Screwsie is a hoot; while her life is anything but perfect, she does seem a bit less “bent” than the rest. She owns her own catering business, which seems very lucrative, and she almost always has a drink in her hand (tequila, wine, or coffee). She’s young and enjoys not being tied down, especially when that means she can manipulate one of Pete’s workers (Gary, played by Jesse Plemons from Friday Night Lights).
Wrapping up the Bent cast is Alex’s daughter, Charlie (played by Joey King from Ramona and Beezus) and the rest of Pete’s contracting crew: Clem (comedian J.B. Smoove) and Vlad (Pasha D. Lychnikoff).
Each episode focuses on the home renovations and at least one other story line. Honestly, I wonder what will happen if or when the construction job is complete — will the show fizzle out and die, or will Alex find something else to keep Pete and his crew busy? The general plot idea definitely works at first, but there is also an obvious end to the storyline which leads us to wonder if the creators have thought that far out or if they’re just hoping to get picked up and they’ll take it from there.
While Bent has only aired for three weeks, viewers have been lucky enough for a double dose each of the past three weeks giving us six episodes to date. I personally love the banter between Alex and Pete; Pete and Ben; Alex, Pete, and Ben; as well as Pete and his crew, and Screwsie (isn’t her name awesome?!?!) and anyone else. The dialogue is sharp, witty, and a lot of fun. That said, I award Bent with the JFTV rating. I’d like to give it more, but I simply can’t; it’s not the best comedy I’ve seen, but it is one of the most enjoyable airing now on Wednesday nights (now that Whitney and Are You There, Chelsea? have aired their season finales). For the time being, Bent will have to settle as one of my favorite TV snacks…
Before wrapping, I just want to add that David Walton (Pete) is adorable!! I didn’t really know him before and wondered why they didn’t get someone familiar to play opposite Amanda Peet, but now I am more than happy with the selection.
And by the way, I really love the message of the show — our life can always bend, but it’s up to us whether or not it breaks. Cheers!
What do you think? Have you watched Bent? Which character do you like or relate to the most? I’d love to hear from you!
Now click over to Amber’s blog and see what she thinks about Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23. Thanks to Hulu, she got a sneak peek! And I don’t know about everyone else, but I am really looking forward to James Van Der Beek, playing James Van Der Beek, and poking a little fun at himself…
Come back next week when Amber and I review two of TV’s newest dramas dealing in scandalous affairs and shady clientele – Scandal and The Client List.
Remember to stop by the #watchwed hashtag in Twitter to discuss any of today’s reviews, or to mention any television programs that you’d like to see on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday in the future.
A Recap of The WatchWed Review System:
GTV (Gourmet TV): Everything we want and more
MacTV (MacNCheese TV): Guilty pleasure. Not perfect, but is satisfies
GMacTV (Gourmet MacNCheese TV): A combination of fine wine and comfort food
JFTV (Junk food TV): It’s not great for us, but we’ll go back for seconds
TBPTV (Twice Baked Potato TV): Part gourmet and delicious, while absolutely horrible for our cholesterol
SSTV (Still Simmering TV): It has potential, but the jury is still out
NIV (Nyquil Induced Viewing): Perfect for that late night television sleep timer
LOTV (Liver&Onions TV): Do we really have to explain? Blech