When Nina’s ex-fiancé tells her he’s engaged mere minutes before she’s passed over for law partner by a big breasted colleague, she can’t help but break everything in the room—champagne flutes, a candy dish, even a vase that Sir Elton John gave the firm. And since her day’s going just peachy, the elevator doors refuse to close after she double flips off the entire office, leaving her looking sheepish as elevator music plays.
On USA’s new comedy Benched, the more uncomfortable it is for Nina (Happy Ending‘s Eliza Coupe), the more hilarious it is for us. Her “I quit” tantrum lands her in the public defender office, where her coworkers drink before noon—not from crystal flutes but from flasks and coffee mugs—and have a propensity for gambling $1,000 of their meager public defender salaries on the whereabouts of a missing prisoner. Although Nina finds them deplorable, she just entered the legal version of The Office (Carlos is even played by Office alum Oscar Nunez).
Being a hotshot corporate lawyer, court should be a cakewalk for Nina, but she’s blindsided when the deputy district attorney is none other than ex-fiancé Trent (Drop Dead Diva‘s Carter MacIntyre). Writers/creators and Groundlings alumni Michaela Watkins (Saturday Night Live, Trophy Wife) and Damon Jones (Halfway Home) couldn’t let Nina stride in and save the day. No, she’s met with non-English-speaking clients, one who has “KILL” tattooed across his forehead. Oh, and the courtroom smells like either a possum died or a sewer exploded—the jury’s still out on that one.
But Mr. drink-before-noon and card-carrying member of the local casino Phil (Better Off Ted‘s Jay Harrington) gives Nina a pep talk: “You’re a sharp, gorgeous woman and this guy [Trent]? Owns you. And it’s not because he’s a better lawyer or that he thinks he’s too good for you. It’s that you think he’s too good for you.” Second year law student and intern Micah (played brilliantly by Jolene Purdy) interrupts their “awww” moment when she points out that Phil used to be Trent until “he got his ass handed to him a couple of times, got scared, and quit.”
Still, it’s enough for Nina to defeat her ex, and it’s off to celebratory drinks at a dive bar. What’s that? Nina is drinking a beer. Looks like she’s traded her highbrow life for a public defender one, which promises lots of laughs for us.
Benched premieres Tuesdays at 10:30 p.m. ET on USA, but you can watch the pilot online now.