If you liked Eliza Coupe in Happy Endings, you’re going to love USA Network’s Benched. Like Marry Me is essentially a spin-off of Casey Wilson’s character on Happy Endings with a new boyfriend and a new set of friends, Benched takes the Type-A personality of Coupe’s character from the ABC sitcom, turns it up to eleven, and then gives her a psychotic break.
The result: Eliza Coupe and her Eliza Coupe-iest. It’s this Eliza Coupe:
In Benched, she plays Nina, a hard-ass big firm lawyer who gave up her romantic life (and her fiance) to work 120 hours a week. In the opening moments of the series, however, she has a nervous breakdown in the office after she’s passed over for partner in favor of a woman with bigger boobs.
Six months later, and the only job Nina can get is with the defense attorney’s office, which provides the fish-out-of-water framework: Nina was a wealthy corporate lawyer who dealt with white-collar criminals, and now she’s dealing with the filth of the legal system. She can’t handle it at first.
In her new office, among her co-workers is Oscar Nunez from The Office (who seems to be playing a similar character), and Phil, played by Better Off Ted‘s Jay Harrington. Harrington is amazing. He has the same deadpan sense of humor he had in Better Off Ted, only know he’s a drunk who barely has any passion left for defending deadbeats and criminals until Nina shows up. They basically feed off of each other, in both positive and negative ways.
The premise itself is nothing we haven’t seen before, although based on one episode, Benched is the closest thing I’ve seen to Night Court since that show was cancelled. What makes it work, however, is Coupe — who is off the rails. She’s an unhinged Jane Kerkovich-Williams, and she crushes it. I was initially skeptical about a sitcom on the USA Network, but it works, and giving Eliza Coupe the freedom to use profanity is just what she needed.
I know USA is allegedly already looking to phase out its sitcom strategy (apparently, it hasn’t been working), but hopefully Benched will convince them otherwise. I encourage you all to jump on this immediately if you like Happy Endings, or if you love Jay Harrington or Eliza Coupe. And if you don’t love Eliza Coupe, please have your head examined.
Benched premieres tonight at 10:30 EST on the USA Network.