Pilot Perception: Benched

Welcome to Pilot Perception, our feature in which we break down the first episode of each new show in order to help you decide whether it’s worth your time.

The Show: Benched, USA Network in the U.S. and The Comedy Network in Canada, Tuesdays at 10:30/9:30c

The Pedigree: The show was written and created by Michaela Watkins (Trophy Wife) and Damon Jones (Halfway Home), who executive produce with John Enbom (Party Down), Mark Gordon (Grey’s Anatomy), and Andrea Shay (Family Tools). Michael Fresco (Better Off Ted) directed the pilot.

The Cast & How You Know Them: Benched stars Eliza Coupe (Happy Endings) along with Jay Harrington (Better Off Ted), Oscar Nunez (The Office), Maria Bamford (Adventure Time), Jolene Purdy (Under the Dome), and Carter MacIntyre (Drop Dead Diva).

The Premise: A corporate lawyer has a meltdown when she’s passed over for a promotion and her former fiance gets engaged to someone else, so she loses her job and has to work as a public defender.

A Taste:

 

What Works: There were a few nice moments when the show seemed to care about social justice issues, including the lines quoted below and a point the main character made about her poor client not being able to afford bail for a very minor crime.

What Doesn’t: Pretty much everything. This was one of the pilots this year I found most unpleasant to watch, all around. There was little to make me sympathize with any of the characters, and the legal and court settings were so unrealistic as to be completely distracting. But the worst part was that the show relied almost entirely on gender essentialism and sexist, racist, homophobic, and classist jokes.

Our Favorite Line: “Did anyone ever tell you it’s rude to turn down a drink?” “Did anyone ever tell you you talk like a date rapist?”

You Might Like This if you like your workplace comedies on the wacky, unprofessional, and unrealistic side, and aren’t bothered by a lot of offensive “humor.”

If You’re Interested: The pilot is rerunning at various times on USA Network, Oxygen, and the Comedy Network this week, so check your local listings. Then set your DVR for Tuesday at 10:30/9:30c.

(Photo courtesy of USA Network.)

About Kate

Kate Linnea Welsh is a New Hampshire-based writer and taxonomist. (No, that doesn't involve dead animals.) She keeps us up to date on TV news in her weekly column "Caffeine." She writes about other TV shows, books, and more at her blog and her site Read the Screen. She'd love to talk to you on Twitter: @katelinnea