Michaela Watkins is best known for her roles on Saturday Night Live, Trophy Wife, and Enlightened. But she's also a writer and producer, and with partner Damon Jones (who Watkins met when they were part of L.A.'s comedy stage show The Groundlings), is behind the USA comedy, Benched. Eliza Coupe stars as a high-powered lawyer who falls from grace and looks to rebuild her life as a public defender. Watkins and Jones tell us why we should do time with Benched.
I have time to watch one more show. Why should it be yours?
Damon Jones: With all the glamour and high-profile casework of typical legal shows, we wanted to take a truthful look at the dumpster fire that is the American justice system, as experienced by public defenders.
Michaela Watkins: In addition, the characters are totally unique, real and hilariously flawed. The cast is outrageously good, starting with Eliza Coupe, a sexy comedic superstar. Jay Harrington will make you positively swoon. Fun fact: if you shut your eyes, he sounds EXACTLY like George Clooney.
Who should be watching?
Jones: People tired of the same predictable workplace comedy This is a show about people who have impossible jobs and don't handle the adversity very gracefully.
Watkins: Everyone is so multi-dimensional, you'll feel like you know these guys and will root for them. Like back when I thought the actors on Friends were actually my friends. Please don't judge.
What happens if we don't watch?
Jones: You won't get to see a dead guy fall out of an air conditioning duct while court is in session. Or a person filing for disability due to a prolapsed anus. Or the greatest job resignation in this history of American labor.
Watkins: Um, spoiler alert much? But that's true. You won't get to see those things. Although, you never actually see a prolapsed anus. You just kinda feel like you do.
What's an alternate title for Benched?
Watkins: Oh Snapped!
Jones: It Could Be Worse. And It Soon Will Be.
Give us an equation for Benched.
Watkins: The Office plus Orange Is the New Black plus Sigourney Weaver in Working Girl minus the big hair and shoulder pads divided by Law & Order: SVU minus the fake crying multiplied by real crying plus alcohol and hormones.
What credit of yours would you prefer we forget?
Jones: I played the apple in a series of commercials for Fruit of the Loom years ago. I was never embarrassed about it because I bought a house with the money. Then I lost the house. Now thinking about that apple suit gives me cramps.
Watkins: I did a celebrity clip show on E! once where we just made fun of celebrities. I am so embarrassed about how cavalier I was — it was as if I didn't think of celebs as people with feelings. It gives me shivers.
On what other series would you like to be an executive producer?
Watkins: Mad Men. I would wait until everyone went home and then try on the costumes. After that, I would pour a scotch and lounge in Don's office.
Jones: Wow. If we don't choose a USA show are we going to be stepping in career dog poop? How about a reboot of Curb Your Enthusiasm...for the wonderful USA Network!
Finish this sentence: If you like________, you'll love our show.
Watkins: If you like underdogs, meth and breakups, you'll love our show.
Pick a show and start a fake feud.
Jones: Oooo, The Americans. I would love to see our cast fight with 1980s deep-cover Soviet spies. That would be so gloriously f---ed up.
Watkins: I'd really like to see this cast get in the ring with the cast of So You Think You Can Dance. Mostly, I want to see our actors in a onesie. And let's be clear, our cast would lose.
How will your show change the face of TV?
Watkins: It's rare that comedies can weave social commentary into it in a humorous real way. I don't know of many workplace comedies that will straddle that line the way Benched does.
Jones: Have you seen Eliza Coupe? TV will have a much, much prettier face.
Watkins: That's sexist. And true.
Benched airs Tuesdays, 10:30/9:30c, on USA