Bent

 
(i)

 

Straightforward romcom tamer than most, but predictable.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The show is about second chances as seen through the separate experiences of Alex and Pete, both of whom are trying, with varying degrees of success, to piece things back together after major life changes. The story also touches on relationships, representing several different examples (boyfriend/girlfriend, father/adult son, mother/young daughter, plus the unlikely pairing at the heart of the story) that encourage viewers to evaluate how we relate to the people in our lives.

Positive role models

Some adults are better behavioral models than others. Amanda is driven to create the perfect life for herself and her daughter, but her need for control often gets her into trouble with other people. Pete, on the other hand, takes very little to heart and relies on his charm rather than work ethic to win people over, which he does with unlikely ease. Ultimately the message here is that there's no one perfect personality type but that a combination of complementing ones can create positive relationships.

Violence
Not applicable
Sex

Men and women talk about "getting laid" and "getting some"; couples cuddle together in bed after sex; a man admits to borrowing a condom from his grown son for an unexpected sexual encounter; couples kiss, flirt, and otherwise imply that they'll be sleeping together.

Language

"Dammit," "suck," and "hell" are audible; anything stronger is bleeped.

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

It's not a major part of the content, but adults often drink beer or wine at dinner or in social settings.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this lackluster romantic comedy has its share of grown-up content, but it doesn't push the envelope like some other primetime shows do. Sex is more of a suggestion than an on-screen act (couples are shown in bed after sex, and there are references to "getting some" and mention of condoms, for example); salty language is limited to "hell" and "damn," with harsher stuff bleeped; and beer is a staple among adults, but to no adverse effect. Adults probably can best relate to the main characters' quest for second chances, and the central relationship has a few good things to say about the benefits of being open to new ideas and views on life.

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What's the story?

BENT is a sitcom that centers on the unlikely relationship between recently divorced attorney Alex (Amanda Peet) and recovering gambling addict Pete (David Walton). Determined to make a fresh start after her husband's philandering ways -- both in the bedroom and with their finances -- Alex downsizes to a smaller house for herself and her daughter, Charlie (Joey King), and hires the perpetually laid-back Pete to renovate the kitchen. For surfer-dude Pete, the job is an opportunity to put the impetuousness of his drawn-out youth behind him and prove that he can hold his own in the real world. When these two polar opposites meet, the sparks that fly aren't the romantic kind, but eventually their dislike melts into an unexpected affection that neither of them wants to admit to.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Despite a talented cast -- rounded out by the incomparable Jeffrey Tambor as Pete's unemployed-actor father -- Bent falls flat in both the "romantic" and the "comedy" departments. Alex and Pete spend so much time dancing around and denying their interest in each other that they exhaust themselves before they can actually act on their instincts. Things aren't much better on the comedy front, either, where Bent relies too much on the characters' opposing personalities for laughs and rarely employs the show's arguably funnier aspects, including the antics of Pete's rag-tag contractor crew and Pete's dad's desperate attempts to jump start his career and reel in the ladies.

There's an upside to the lack of fire in this slow-paced show, especially if you're looking for something new for your teens. Compared to many primetime options, Bent tends to be lighter on physical content, language, and drinking, none of which play a major role in the characters' motivations. Sure, there are casual remarks about "getting laid" and references to condoms, etc., but the physical interactions are fairly low-key, and there's no nudity. What's more, despite the fact that Pete's gambling problem is often spun for laughs, the show deserves some credit for working a serious issue like this into the plot and making it a possible discussion point for families who tune in.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about new beginnings. Have you ever done something you've later regretted? If you could go back and change what happened, how would you do it? Does this type of experience affect how you act in the future?

  • Parents and their teens can talk about addiction. Do you think this show intends to paint an accurate picture of the life of a recovering addict? How does a gambling addiction differ from an alcohol or drug addiction?

  • Why do you think romantic comedies are so popular? Teens: Do you see any similarities between the relationships in this show and those you have with your friends or a boyfriend or girlfriend? Do you think modern technology like cell phones and social networking sites improve our relationships?

TV details

Cast:Amanda Peet, David Walton, Jeffrey Tambor
Network:NBC
Genre:Comedy
Topics:Friendship
TV rating:TV-14
Available on:Streaming

This review of Bent was written by

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Quality

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  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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