Everyone has problems. There’s school. There’s family. There’s boyfriends, girlfriends, just friends and/or friends with benefits. We’ve got money problems, emotional problems, physical problems, etc. But most of the time, most of the time, the problems can be fixed.
In other words, we are “bent, not broken.”
Or at least that is what the main character’s father would say on “Bent,” NBC’s new half hour romantic comedy from creator Tad Quill (“Scrubs”).
Pete Riggens, played by the handsome David Walton, is a recovering gambling addict trying to piece his life back together aided by his charm and wiles with women.
Alex Meyers (Amanda Peet), a lawyer freshly divorced from a white-collar criminal and uptight and anxious as ever, hires Pete’s construction crew in an effort to rebuild her life with her daughter Charlie (Joey King) and start anew.
Therein lies the meet-cute. Pete, meet Alex. Let the sexual tension begin.
But what is so blissfully refreshing about “Bent” is that no one denies the attraction. Screwsie (Margo Harshman), Alex’s sister, blatantly points out Pete’s good looks and the construction team sighs in knowing despair when they see their new project is for an attractive woman whom Pete is undoubtedly trying to woo. Not even Alex’s new boyfriend Ben (Matt Letscher) denies the witty rapport between the two.
The honesty and deliberate truth in each of the characters gives birth to a cast that has an undeniable chemistry. Walton plays well with everyone as the chillaxed surfer dude completely aware of his gift with women.
As he leaves Alex’s house after a day of work, she rolls her eyes saying, “You’re delusional, and you’re not pulling off that jacket.” He looks down at his leather jacket while sitting on his motorcycle, smiles with dimples and responds, “I think we both know that’s a lie.”
Pete has romantic chemistry with Alex and a friendly and charming connection with her daughter Charlie. He plays a patient son to his father Walt (Jeffrey Tambor), a struggling actor and tag-along father. Pete puts up with a lot, but he also is a lot to put up with.
If the show were resting solely on the shoulders of the will-they, won’t-they story of Pete and Alex it might fall short. Instead it embraces the supporting cast. Each of the episodes finds a new dynamic, whether it’s between Screwsie and Gary (Jesse Simmons), the new guy constantly being hazed on Pete’s team or between Pete and Ben as they knowingly and enjoyably challenge one another for Alex’s attention.
They all call each other out for their flaws, make fun of one another in public and clearly care for each other as friends and family. Just like Quill’s characters, we’ve all got problems. We might not have fixed them yet, but we’re working on it. So are they.
Now here’s the kicker. We might not get the chance to see these smart characters even attempt to fix up their lives.
When “Bent” was ordered, NBC picked up six episodes. Only six episodes. And after absolutely no promotion or advertising, the network is rolling out the episodes two at a time on Wednesday evenings against Modern Family repeats. The final two episodes planned were aired last night. This comedy — that is one of the strongest new half hour comedies to come out of the crop of sitcom pilots this season — has been burned before it even has a chance to prove itself.
“Bent” is witty and smart and has just enough “rom” to balance out the “com.” It has a great cast with natural chemistry that most shows only wish they had.
Watch the six episodes. I know I won’t be alone in wanting the chance to watch Pete and his crew mess up Alex’s kitchen over and over and over again if just to see the rest of the stories that Quill and his staff can delve out to the bent, but not broken, characters of this quirky show.
Watch episodes of “Bent” on nbc.com or purchase them on iTunes.
Rosenberg is a member of the class of 2012.