I don't know about you but I am in love with USA's latest offering in the comedy department, Benched. I found Benched to be one of the best comedy pilots of the 2014 Fall TV season. The casting is phenomenal. The characters are colorful, memorable and relatable, especially Nina which great considering she is the main character.
I will admit that one name in particular, which was of course Eliza Coupe, was my main reason for initially checking this show out. Eliza Coupe as Nina Whitley is superb. It's no secret I've been a huge fan of Coupe's for quite some time. I love that she has great comedic timing as well as a penchant for physical comedy as well. While it's true that the the story of Nina Whitley isn't breaking any new ground (a successful, driven woman tries to have it all but focuses more on her work and loses touch with everything else. She eventually looses her job, in this it is due to being passed over for a promotion and not taking it very well and begins a journey of self-discovery and redemption);the fact that it is funny, has heart as a well a carefully buried message is what sets it apart for me personally.
The thing that made me a little hesitant at first was the fact that it was yet another female led legal drama which seems to be all the rage this TV season. But I took a chance and this show really wowed me. I'm talking serious deep belly laughs. This show is playful on every level, right down to the soundtrack and sound design. The show is full of spirited (and sometimes spite filled) and sarcastic characters so naturally that means it most definitely my kind of party. The first five minutes alone nearly had my sides in stitches. There is nothing like a good old-fashioned emotional meltdown, am I right?
This show reminds me of Judging Amy, only it's on steroids and it's told from the public defenders side of things. I'm pretty sure that's why I'm so smitten. The cast chemistry is through the roof already and everyone has great comedic timing and really sold their character. Even Trent, who didn't get a ton of screen time. Is it just me or does Benched feel like the best of all worlds when it comes to shows about lawyers? I mean we have that fish out water vibe because she was a well-paid corporate lawyer who will now probably have to downsize her life who entering the underdog of all legal professions --being a public defender (I'm pretty sure public defender is even a notch below pro bono lawyer because pro bono lawyers choose to do so and want to affect some positive change into the world in most cases).
Then we get the obvious undertones of a workplace comedy as well as the mundane procedural element of having to deal with cases every week. Although, I also noticed a strong undercurrent of style that seems to being leaning towards an Orange is the New Black vibe but that could just be the show unapologetic coarseness giving off that particular vibe. Only time will tell for sure.
As I mentioned in the Advanced Preview Review, I'm not a shipper at all. But I totally am OK with them setting up the 'will they or won't they' dynamics between Jay Harrington's character and Coupe's. The actors play well of each other and the chemistry is definitely there. As long as the show keeps giving me funny I'm OK with a slow burn between these two. I'm actually looking forward to the evolution of that relationship in particular to be honest.
Another thing that I was excited to see was Maria Bamford. I have waited ages to see her in a TV show. I love her stand up routines. Actually, the whole supporting cast is awesome and I love that they threw in Oscar Nuñez for kicks and giggles. While his character didn't get much screen time in the pilot I have a feeling they are going to eventually let this character shine (and it would awesome if he gave a little Office reference by staring into the camera when someone does something ridiculous at least just one time, am I right?).
All in all the pilot was a great first outing that really showcased this series potential. I am very much looking forward seeing how this show progresses and where it goes from here.
What did you think of this episode? Will you be tuning in for episode 2? On a scale of 1 to 10 how much do you love Eliza Coup? Feel free to leave your thoughts below.