Nina Whitley, the main lawyer on USA Network’s new legal sitcom Benched — premiering Tuesday at 10:30/9:30c — isn’t someone you’d necessarily choose to have in your corner. Then again, she probably wouldn’t want to help you, either.
“She’s not a crusader,” Benched creator/executive producer Michaela Watkins admits to TVLine. “She’s not someone who’s out to help the disenfranchised.”
In fact, Nina — played by Happy Endings‘ Eliza Coupe — is a former corporate lawyer who finds herself slumming it with the public defenders when a stress-induced breakdown makes her an instant pariah at her old firm. And within the first five minutes of the pilot, you realize that Nina is unquestionably her own worst enemy.
“She’s like a lot of people I know, including myself,” Watkins explains. “If she would just take a beat, be a little more filtered and gauge the room first, she would actually do very well. And that’s what I love about the character. She’s so consumed with passion and enthusiasm and that’s really what drives her.”
Outside the courtroom, Nina gets her kicks by trading jabs with fellow public defender Phil (Better Off Ted‘s Jay Harrington). Watkins believes Nina and Phil have that “Sam and Diane” factor, complete with “undeniably good” chemistry — so get ready to root, ship, etc.
And here’s a fun fact for all you former Happy Endings fans: While many viewers fondly remember Coupe as Jane Kerkovich on ABC’s short-lived comedy, Watkins doesn’t count herself as one of them.
“I’m so scared to say this, but I never really watched Happy Endings,” she confesses. “I’d heard about how great it was, though. And this is really a testament to Eliza; she’s just that funny. Plus, you look at her and she looks like a supermodel. She’s everything in one being!”
Will you be checking out Benched when it premieres tonight on USA Network? Drop a comment with your thoughts on the new comedy below.