Any fan of a too short-lived television series knows that we can’t always have nice things. There’s nothing more bittersweet than discovering a new show with boundless potential while helplessly watching its ratings circle the drain. One such heartbreaking tale is that of Ben and Kate, which premiered on Fox in Sept. 2012 and left us after a mere 16 episodes.
The sitcom stars Dakota Johnson and Nat Faxon as closely-knit siblings sharing a house and the raising of Kate’s daughter Maddie (Maggie Elizabeth Jones). Ben is a recovering slacker, still chasing get-rich-quick schemes but never ignoring his responsibilities to his baby sis and cutie-pie niece. Kate is a single mom whose future was interrupted by Maddie and who now aspires to leave her waitressing career behind. The gang is rounded out with Tommy (Echo Kellum) and BJ (Lucy Punch) as Ben and Kate’s respective BFFs.
Slightly formulaic set-up? Sure. But the chemistry of the Ben and Kate cast gelled in record time, enabling those few of us who watched it to become attached to these characters right out of the gate. Like Parks and Recreation and New Girl, the series excels in the comedy of niceness. The laughs come from well-crafted scripts and endearing performances, not from cynicism or snark. There are few series on TV that explore the sibling relationship where Ben and Kate finds its heart. And while many comedies struggle to integrate kids without falling into sugary sweetness, Ben and Kate expertly navigated around that trap.
Hot mess BJ was a killer role for Lucy Punch, who’s been making huge comic impact in small roles from Hot Fuzz to Dinner for Schmucks. Relative newcomer Kellum was a find (“I was going to, Ben, but then I realized that me climbing in through a window at night, that’s like a one-way ticket to a candle light vigil that turns into a riot”), and was instantly snatched up by the inferior Sean Saves the World.
Are you missing Ben and Kate too? Let us know in the comments!