22 October 2015
IFC’s latest comedy Benders is about grown men who are obsessed with their division eight hockey league. Three episodes in, the bro-ish series from Tom Sellitti and Jim Serpico (both fresh from the Denis Leary stable) mostly just feels like a weak League imitation. Lindsey Broad is somewhat fun as a refreshingly-not-a-drag wife but, for the most part, the cast lacks the inherent likeability of the League crew and the comedy is a lot more predictable in its quest for shock value.
The series’ second episode “Wake ‘Em Up” in which the ostensible leading man Paul (Andrew Schulz) is forced to choose between his commitment to his family and to his team ‘The Chubbys’ would have made a fine pilot that, for better or worse, declared the series’ identity. Instead, the first episode “Choke” shows him dealing with his grandfather’s request for assisted suicide, the hockey league serving as a backdrop at most. It’s as if “Choke” is trying to establish the series as a black comedy with hockey as a steady throughline, like basketball in One Tree Hill (the second-tier version of the “Friday Night Lights wasn’t really about football” line) but it seems that “Wake ‘Em Up” and the third episode “Prodigal Son” are really what this show is all about- idiots in a locker room.
TV characters are meant to be people worth spending time with every week but I’m more than willing to bet that spending time with four random dudes from any rec hockey league in the country would be more fun than watching these chumps for 22 minutes.