TV Review: “Bent”
Bravo to NBC. After subjecting their shrinking audience to the unfunny Whitney and the even worse, Are You There, Chelsea, the network finally… FINALLY… delivers a show worthy of their Thursday night lineup. Based on the first two very funny episodes of Bent, NBC could actually pair the show with Up All Night and have a decent hour of comedy on Wednesday nights. I can’t tell if their decision to air all 6 episodes made in just three weeks (2 a week) is a sign of confidence or that they’re burning them off. I pray for the former, but fear the latter.
The premise of Bent has the potential to carry on for several seasons: Alex, an uptight lawyer (Amanda Peet), is a single mom living in Venice, CA. She hires Pete, a contractor (David Walton), to rebuild her kitchen. He’s a recovering gambling addict seeking redemption after pissing away all of his money, betraying his crew and screwing things up with his (almost) fiance. Anyone who’s ever seen Murphy Brown knows that the client/contractor plot can carry on for awhile. In the meantime, Alex and Pete let the sexual tension build.
Alex’s daughter, Charlie (Joey King) instantly bonds with Pete, much to the chagrin of Alex’s doctor boyfriend, Ben (Matt Letscher). Alex’s promiscuous sister, Screwsie- yes, that’s her name- (Margo Harshman) has the hots for Pete, as do Alex’s nanny and just about every woman he speaks to. Pete lives with his out-of-work actor father, played by the great Jeffrey Tambor, and does his best to appease his crew, a group of guys that include Clem (JB Smoove), Vlad (Pasha Lychnikoff) and new guy, Gary (Jesse Plemons).
I loved everything about Bent, from the smart dialogue to the perfect casting of each character. It impressed me that the writers weren’t afraid to deal with Pete’s flaws, especially his gambling problems. It’s nice to see that addiction isn’t being used a punchline here, but actually adds something to his character. I’ve been a fan of Walton’s since I first noticed him on Quarterlife a few years back. He walks in Pete’s shoes with ease. Amanda Peet has always been a talented comedic actress and this role really suits her. Anyone who’s seen recent seasons of Curb Your Enthusiasm know how f’n funny JB Smoove is, so it’s great to see him on TV again. And I’m loving the fact that Jesse Plemons is on a new series. I’ve missed Landry since he graduated from Friday Night Lights.
Since Bent is only going to be on another couple of weeks, I’m not sure how NBC plans to judge the show’s ratings, especially since it has the world’s shittiest lead-in (those aforementioned crapfest “comedies”) and it’s up against Idol and Modern Family. I wish the creative team behind Bent the best of luck. Seriously. I have a track record of liking shows and watching them get cancelled, so I hope that my luck changes and the NBC brass realizes they have a great show on their hands. It has Jeffrey Tambor, damn it! Enough of my rant, check out the show. It’s streaming on NBC’s website and two new episodes air next Wednesday.