Bent, David Walton and Amanda Peet
Blink and you might miss Bent, NBC's new romantic comedy, which premieres Wednesday at 9/8c. Although the series will only be on for three weeks of back-to-back new episodes, Bent actually deserves a closer look. The comedy, from Scrubs writer Tad Quill, follows a newly divorced, high-strung single mother (Amanda Peet) and the lackadaisical ladies' man she hires to re-do her kitchen (David Walton).
So what makes this half-hour comedy worth the investment? Here are five reasons to check out Bent:
1. They're so wrong, they're right. In different hands, this romantic pairing might feel forced, predictable or, simply inaccurate. But thanks to the chemistry of Peet and Walton, you'll actually want to root for Alex and Pete ,despite the odds against them. "She's more of a stiff shirt and he's more visceral and animalistic," Peet says. "Alex is this very strong, smart woman and Pete tends to easily get women and then become uninterested," Walton says. "She's the first one that can really stand toe-to-toe with Pete. There's a lot of conflict there, but there's a deep respect for each other's minds ... and very beautiful face and figure."
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2. The will-they-or-won't-they flame lives. While fans used to have wait several seasons — if not a TV series' entire run — for the main couple to get together, more and more showrunners are beginning to laugh in the face of the Moonlighting curse. (The Office's Jim and Pam have been married for two seasons and Brennan and Booth are about to welcome a baby on Bones.) However, Bent promises to take no such shortcut. "The whole season, we haven't kissed yet," Walton says. "It's a romantic comedy, but there's been no physicality so all that tension hopefully is coming through." Even if the show gets a second season, Alex and Pete might take a lot longer to get on the same page. "I feel like it's going to take six years, if we're lucky enough to have six years," Peet says.
3. Jeffrey Tambor. Do we really need to say more? In what might be his best role since Arrested Development, Tambor shines as Pete's dad, Walt, an out-of-work actor and occasional Nordstrom department store piano player. "He hasn't got his shot yet," Tambor says. "He's broke and he can't pay the rent so he lives with his son. He had to sell his car so his son has to drive him to auditions." He may be short on cash, but Walt has a lot of confidence to spare, which means father and son might be competing for the same lovely ladies at the local taqueria. "We're both lotharios, but I'm actually further along in maturity at this point," Walton says. "In a lot of ways, he's more of a dog than I am and he's older." Adds Tambor: "I think that he thinks he looks like Robert Redford. He's got an ego problem."
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4. A stellar supporting team: Aside from Peet, Walton and Tambor, Bent boasts a strong supporting cast of characters including Curb Your Enthusiasm's J.B. Smoove as Pete's right-hand man and electrician Clem. "I don't even have words for the energy he brings to every single word he says," Walton says of Smoove. "Those eyes, you can't get through a scene because you're laughing so hard." However, the show's biggest surprise might be Friday Night Lights alum Jesse Plemons. "He's sort of the newbie on the construction crew and everybody just rags on him and he's very good at taking it," Walton says. "He's the only normal person, actually, so all the comedy can kind of go around him because he [shares] the audience's perspective." Even 12-year-old Joey King, who plays Alex's daughter, Charlie, more than holds her own with her older castmates. "I think Joey should be banned from acting because she's a young girl and she has the comic timing of Jack Benny," Tambor says.
5. There's a lot of lovin' to go around. Alex and Pete aren't the only romantic pairing to root for on the show. Look for Plemons' Gary to bend over backwards from Day 1 to win over Alex's tough-as-nails younger sister, Screwsie (Margo Harshman). "He's just painfully into Screwsie and he's just mumbling and bumbling when he's around her most of the time," Plemons says. "That's been fun — seeing how many awkward moments you can create in 30 minutes." One of the funniest episodes this season features Pete's successful actress mother (guest star Marcia Gay Harden), who comes back to town and — spoiler alert! — ends up back in bed with her ex-husband. "They're the couple that can't keep their hands off of each other but can't say two sentences together," Tambor says. "In the hands of Marcia Gay, she just hit it out of the park."
Bent premieres Wednesday at 9/8c on NBC.