With a late midseason start and just six episodes to get itself off the ground, NBC's Bent had a short but steep uphill battle ahead of itself if it was going to grab people's attention, and only three evenings in which to complete it. I can only assume NBC didn't see the series' potential, which would explain the meager six episodes they gave the comedy, and rushed back-to-back airings, which presented Bent like little more than filler for the three Wednesday nights in which it aired, as opposed to what it really was, one of the most promising new comedies of the season. And so, unsurprisingly, Bent performed poorly and its chances of renewal don't look good.
Boasting a strong cast, which includes Amanda Peet (Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip), David Walton (Perfect Couples), Jeffrey Tambor (Arrested Development), J.B. Smoove (Curb Your Enthusiasm) and Friday Night Lights' Jesse Plemons, Bent's focus was split between the developing relationship between Peet and Walton's characters Alex and Pete, and the rest of the people in their lives, including Alex's daughter, Pete's father Walt, and Pete's small crew of workers. The start of the story puts Alex and Pete together when Alex contracts him to renovate her kitchen. Their lives collide regularly from there.
The contrasting personalities of Alex and Pete, added to Walton and Peet's great on-screen chemistry was enough to make the pilot work, and offered the promise of a budding romance between this mismatched duo down the line. But what kicked Bent up a few notches beyond the series' first episode was the ensemble of great characters that filled in the story, making Bent more than just a comedy about two people who might eventually end up falling in love. In fact, what comes through more than the sexual tension between Alex and Pete is the personal issues each of them are dealing with, and how they affect the lives of the people around them.
It should also be noted that this series knows exactly how to use Jeffrey Tambor. As Pete's father, Tambor is funny and offbeat and just the right amount of character for the role he's playing, not entirely stealing scenes, but borrowing them with a line or two and then giving the back without interrupting the rhythm of the show.
The above said, this leads us to the real reason Bent needs to come back for a second season. Because a great cast and great chemistry among that cast is important, especially for a comedy, but the on-screen talent is only part of what makes Bent work. The other is the writing, which is good. And not just passable for a comedy, but actually good, with clever dialogue and the start of a story with places to go and characters to be developed. In the first six episodes, we start to get to know the characters, and through them, the true potential for this series begins to emerge. But then it ends, and we're left to wonder where everything will go. Bent shouldn't become one of those series that's briefly aired and then forgotten. These first six episodes should be the introduction to what could go on to be a solid comedy and one worth tuning in for each week. It just needs a chance, some time to grow, and a time-slot that doesn't put it against American Idol, Criminal Minds and Modern Family all at once.
I want to know what's ahead for Pete and Alex, and their friends and family. But beyond that, I want to see what this series can become. Bent deserves another chance. Hopefully NBC takes the leap with this one and brings it back.
Should Bent Be Saved?