When Happy Endings was officially cancelled by ABC, the show’s small but avid fanbase went through a rollercoaster of emotions. There was hope that the show might move forward on another network, but once those hopes were quashed, it was time for the cast to shop around for new projects. We’re pleased as punch to let you know that Eliza Coupe will be returning to television as a lead in a brand new comedy picked up by USA Network. It’s called Benched, and it sounds like the perfect project for the actress.
Coupe has played neurotic characters in the past, and in Benched she’ll play a character named Nina who spends her days as a high-end corporate lawyer. However, one day she has a nervous breakdown after getting passed over for a promotion, which reminds us a little bit of Laura Dern’s Enlightened’s trajectory. In Nina’s case, her breakdown will push her out of the corporate world and into the world of public service. Her new job as a public defender will put her in the path of Phil (Jay Harrington), a handsome man with an unattractive gambling problem. Like Nina, he’s also a public defender.
USA Network isn’t exactly known for comedy (sorry Psych), but the cable station is working really hard to change that. The network is also looking at the comedy pilots Divide & Conquer and Love Is Dead, as well as new programs Sirens and Playing House. It’s the first series coming from ABC’s Signature label, and it’s the first project USA Network has ordered to series in 2014. It’s not the first foray into television for its executive producers, however. Trophy Wife’s Michaela Watkins, Halfway Home’s Damon Jones, Party Down’s John Enbom, Criminal Minds’ Mark Gordon and Family Tools’ Andrea Shay are all executive producing the new comedy.
It’s actually not a huge shock that Coupe is hopping over to USA Network. The channel has been looking to diversify and build more of a comedy brand for some time, and the cable channel initially really seemed to want Happy Endings in its lineup. Although that move didn’t really work out, I don’t really blame USA for wanting to create its own content rather than purchase a show that may have already put together its best episodes. However, if the network was interested in Coupe before, it makes sense that the network might be interested Coupe post-Happy Endings.
There’s no word on when the single-camera comedy is headed to USA, but we do know that 12 episodes are slated to be produced for Season 1. Regardless of how long it takes to make it onto television, we’re happy to see Coupe land a new role. And if you’re wondering what some other members of the Happy Endings crew is up to, Damon Wayans, Jr. can be seen on New Girl, Adam Pally’s on The Mindy Project and Casey Wilson’s headed to The Hot Wives of Orlando.
It might be a little while before Benched gets an official airdate, but we’ll keep you posted along the way.