Season 1 | Episode 2 | “Downsizing” | Aired Nov 4, 2014
Nina Whitley isn’t keen on downsizing. In episode two of “Benched,” she did everything in her power to avoid it.
Sucking up to Debbie Matheson and succumbing to blackmail was a nonissue. For Nina, accepting that Trent had obviously been cheating on her with his current fiancée was the real deal breaker. It was a case of Nina versus the Jagbags of Shitsmanship, and the Jagbags left practically unscathed.
Nina, on the other hand, will never work in corporate law again.
“Downsizing,” like most second episodes, did little beyond reinforce the best aspects of the pilot. It’s a superior episode, though, if for nothing else but firmly establishing the camaraderie between Nina and Phil. Eliza Coupe and Jay Harrington have undeniably good chemistry, and it’s nice to see it recognized so early. Coupe also appears to be having a grand time portraying a more fragile character, as opposed to her hardened exterior personas on both “Scrubs” and “Happy Endings.”
Coupe and Harrington aren’t the only actors here to play. Oscar Nunez as Carlos is still underdeveloped, but as the office’s sole go-getter, he’s at least been given a character trait. Meanwhile, when it comes to bedding classically handsome businessmen, Cheryl, as portrayed by Maria Bamford, is Charlie Brown kicking for the football personified.
Following an unflattering speech in front of everyone who’s anyone in the world of corporate law, Nina will remain an employee of the Office of Public Defense. With that established, the show now has to decide on its week-to-week identity, and whether it wants to be more about the lawyers or the cases they solve. If it can find the right balance, “Benched” is poised to become one of television’s strongest comedies.