Perhaps the biggest news about the forthcoming NBC series “Bent” is how EP Tad Quill is promoting it. The show, which features comic heavyweights like Jeffrey Tambor and J.B. Smoove in addition to Amanda Peet and David Walton, is being sold as “romantic comedy” rather than just a “comedy.” This may seem like an subtle distinction to many, but when it comes to grabbing potential viewers, it could be a larger problem.
The series focuses on Peet, a woman who is getting back into the dating scene after a nasty divorce. This is where the David Walton enters as a pot-smoking, womanizing contractor who is there to rebuild Peet’s kitchen. They are surrounded by a group of misfits who each have their own problems including Tambor, Smoove and Margo Harshman, who plays Peet’s sister Screwsie (a name Harshman says her character earned “after many years of ‘hard work'”).
While there’s a “Will They or Won’t They” romance brewing between the two, the well-written pilot risks alienating potential male viewers with the “romantic comedy” label. These males might normally immediately gravitate toward a show featuring talent like Tambor and Smoove.
“It’s romantic comedy absolutely which I think has a more female orientation,” Quill says at the Television Critics Association Winter press tour. “But David Walton is fantastic…that character is something I hope guys relate to and want to watch.”
Quill admits the single-camera show is a bit different from the usual, saying, “I hope people will give it a chance and hook into the tone of it. I do think the tone is a little bit different.”
The series doesn’t debut until mid-Spring, Quill says. So here’s hoping by then they’ll reconsider their marketing messaging, allowing them to secure a bigger audience for what is a quality comedy.