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?