We Don't Get Bent

Bent is an attempt at transposing the “Katherine Heigl romcom” template to the half-hour sitcom. Amanda Peet plays the girl—in this case Alex, a divorcee starting her life anew in a Venice Beach bungalow. David Walton plays the boy, a.k.a. Pete, a contractor suffering from an advanced case of arrested development. Speaking of Arrested Development, there’s also Jeffrey Tambor in the mix, playing Pete’s buffoonish actor roommate (and dad), Walt. The pilot episode set up this drywall-thin premise, and was just inoffensive enough as to earn me giving it another shot. I probably should have quit while I was ahead. By the time I got to the end of the second episode, “Smitten,” all of Bent’s major faults had become extremely obvious to me. Here they are:

1. Pete is an unlikeable sleazebag.

I realize our heroes require a few faults to make them seem more human and give them room for growth, but Pete is made up entirely of faults. He can’t remember the names of the women he regularly screws then abandons. He eavesdrops on Alex and her boyfriend’s private conversation about their sex life, and then tells them he did that. He takes his sweet time doing anything required of him. He’s generally shitty at his job and condescending to his crew. He gambled away his ex-fiancee’s engagement ring. He looks and acts like an asshole. He is an asshole.

2. Bent appears to hate women.

Here are some of the women in the first two episodes of Bent:

There’s Alex, of course, who is a lawyer therefore very smart and accomplished and a great example for all women. Except she seems to have no problem enduring Pete’s disgusting and repeated remarks about when and how she should be having sex with her boyfriend. She just stands there and smiles and things it’s cute. So cute, in fact, that she very nearly kisses Pete, but being a smart working woman, she pulls away at the last second. Here’s a clue for the writers of Bent: This is not how any woman reacts to being spoken to that way by sleazeball men in their employ, or sleazeball men in general.

There’s Aunt Screwsie, who is a party girl and sleeps around—very opposite to her sister! When she first sees Pete, she gets hot and wants to sleep with him, but when they start to converse, neither can remember if they'd already had sex with the other.

There's Nathalie, his ex-fiancee whose engagement ring Pete gambled away, who still wants to be with him, even as he tries to pick up another girl at a bar by asking her to buy a drink for him. He tells the other girl that Nathalie is “hot but bi-polary,” and yet that still doesn’t convince Nathalie that maybe Pete is a dick. Then she follows around Pete the whole episode being “bi-polary,” crying, screaming, and generally acting like a crazy, clingy woman who just can’t get enough of Pete.

And then there’s the obese lesbian contractor in the pilot who spits and is supposed to be disgusting. Usually, just letting such things go unspoken is cool, but Bent goes one further and makes several references to the fact that she is a lesbian and that she likes having sex with other women. Ha ha ha!

3. Home renovation is a terrible premise for a sitcom.

When a broken faucet becomes a major plot accelerator, it’s probably a sign this is not the most dynamic of ideas.

4. Bent has already run out of things for its supporting cast to do.

Friday Night Lights' Jesse Plemons plays Gary, the new kid on the crew. But home renovation is a boring premise for a sitcom (see above), so in “Smitten,” he’s tasked with driving Walt around for the day. Why? I have no clue. Gary drives Walt to his acting class, then to his audition; hilarity does not ensue when Gary is cast in the part instead, and Walt is jealous.

5. I couldn’t understand what the Russian guy was saying.

But seeing as he had no lines in the second episode, the writers might be on to that already.

6. No one in Bent behaves like a human being.

No one. Not Alex, not Pete, not Walt, not Screwsie, not Alex’s doctor boyfriend, who quietly endures Pete. The only person who comes close to acting like a human being is Gary, but that’s mainly because Jesse Plemons seems so totally bored with this material.


What did you think of Bent's two-episode debut?

Comments (12)
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Like it a lot personally, and no problem understanding the Russian guy, maybe it's an American thing not being able to understand a simple accent...
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it wasn't great or anything but I sort of liked it. if nothing else, it gives me something to watch at 9/8c on Wednesdays because I don't like Modern Family.. and I do like David Walton, I do like Amanda Peet, and Margo Harshman though.



however I liked David Walton's other two shows (100 Questions and Perfect Couples) more, so of course they were cancelled as well... possibly 3 shows cancelled in as many years? this is when I'd say "STAY AWAY FROM NBC!"



was I the only one who found it sort of funny that Jesse Plemons is on another show where (one of) the main guy's last name is Riggins?
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Wow, complaining about a male-slut that doesn't remembers the names of the chicks he bangs, does stupid stuff, and is sometimes insensitive. Sounds like you just described 1/2 of the leading single-males in comedies. Joey from Friends, Sterling Archer from Archer, etc.



That being said, wasn't a fan. Which is a shame because I love Amanda Peet.
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Whilst nothing in the story is too plausible (though Seth, Pete's not a jerk.... hardly the knight in shining armour but he's got his charms....), i thought it was quite funny... the writing was snappy and witty.... pete's crew and dad are a potential source of much funny material... if the show doesn't get cancelled (which could happen soon in view of the abysmal ratings the premier had), there is a chance that the characters become a little more nuanced...
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Surprisingly enough, I didn't have much of a problem with Bent. Of course, that doesn't mean I liked it -- it's not exactly a good sign for a comedy that I didn't laugh more than once in a span of two episodes -- but there actually wasn't anything that I disliked about it. It's kind of silly. It's kind of charming. It's kind of sweet. But it's also kind of boring.



Although I don't exactly like the show, I don't think I particularly agree with any of your arguments against it. Let's take your argument against the show that no one behaves like a human being. 1) Bent isn't a sitcom and isn't as creative as they are, but it is still a comedy; and I don't think anyone in Community, 30 Rock, or It's Always Sunny act any MORE human than Bent's characters... and 2) How exactly don't they act human? Pete's a douche, and douches certainly exist. Yes, they may all be a bit one-dimensional, but almost all characters on TV comedies are. Apparently, you think silliness doesn't exist in human beings, because as far as I can tell, that's the only difference between Gary and all the other characters so far.



Also, am I safe in assuming you don't like Community much? I ask that because the reasons you state for finding Pete intolerable to watch seem to basically be the same qualities of Community's Jeff Winger. Jeff's selfish, lazy, vain, condescending, lies to his friends, sleeps around with women and doesn't care to really remember their names (until Britta), etc.



- I had no problem with the Russian guy's accent, but it doesn't hurt that he didn't talk much.

- The show is two episodes in: it's a little unreasonable to claim they've already run out of plots for the supporting characters.

- Home renovation isn't particularly fun, but it does provide a reason for Pete to be around Alex quite a lot, which is all they really need. Comedies generally don't need a great premise.

- Because the women are flawed means the writers hate them? They wrote the guys as being just as irrational, insecure, or stupid. I really don't think you can make a strong argument that the men are actually liked more by the writers. So I'd probably agree with you more if you said the writers hate both men and women.



It's odd that I ended up defending a show I don't actually like that much. Oh, well.
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So how long did NBC think it would take to renovate this woman's home? She shouldn't have kept him around after the interview let alone a couple of seasons. This may be gone faster the The Playboy Club.
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the preview itself gave all of this impression in a couple of minutes..
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Wow, this is a far cry from what you were saying just yesterday. What a difference a single episode makes...I guess.



Not that it really matters, the show was dead before it hit the ground, and NBC honestly didn't seem to care.
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i can barely understand you sometimes seth
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I only watched the pilot because there was no way I was going to choose this over Happy Endings. That being said, after the first 15 minutes I was taken aback as to where they are going to go with all of this. They are going to flirt around the issue of Alex and Pete getting together. However, after 15 minutes he has already bedded her nanny. What professional woman is going to have such as low self esteem that she is going to go after her nanny's sloppy (very sloppy) seconds. No woman I know would do that. Not to mention a lawyer who would have just had her position as a leader undermined because neither the nanny or the dude was canned. And if they perchance get a second season or even a second half of this season. He is at some point in time going to bed the aunt. It is going to have to happen in order to keep the tension of love/hate between Alex and Pete and her almost firing him but keeping him etc. I don't get why they would go that route and I don't get how they plan on making the series last based on the remodeling of her house. It doesn't take a season to remodel a house. It does take a season to build a house



Now that aside, it was better than both Whitney and Chelsea. But that bar is so low that practically anything can hop over it.
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I am with you on this...the pilot was dull and I didn't see anything that connected. "Smitten" was better but not to much. I can see this show dying real fast. Than again it is on NBC. Though I wasn't a real big fan of "I Hate My Teenage Daughter" but I would watch that instead of "Bent. Oh wait, they canceled that! lol
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tell us seth, what do you really think about it
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