The series asks the question ‘Can a woman be more than her body?’ The answer is obviously yes but getting there will span seasons because women's self-worth is tied to their bodies from a very early age. And because life is messssssy and healing doesn't happen in a straight line. THE COCKROACH takes place in modern day, painfully vain LA. But in a corner of it that hasn’t been thoroughly explored: The disabled community. And the SoCal fashion industry.
Our heroine is EMILY. She’s a former perfectionist and a current mess. She loves hard with raw honesty and humor but is deeply insecure, and was long before she lost her arm. The pilot starts a few months after her car accident: Emily’s not taking her mental or physical health seriously. She’s self medicating with wine. She’s avoiding going back to her job as a creative director. And she’s treating her irritatingly positive husband MATTHEW like a punching bag. She’s basically acting like a little baby bitch until she learns that her daughter PARKER’S been crying after she drops her off at pre-school. Emily’s mother MAUREEN tells her she needs to get her shit together and be strong for her daughter’s sake… and when Parker comes home singing La Cucaracha and asks Emily to google the lyrics, Emily realizes the one thing we all hate to admit: Her mother’s right. La Cucaracha is about a cockroach who keeps dancing even after she’s lost a leg. Emily summons her cockroach strength and returns to a dance class she used to frequent. Pounds lighter on the one side of her body, she's struggling and is about to give up when the entire class tucks an arm behind their backs, and dances with Emily. The tears she’s been shoving down for months come and she finally lets go. Overcoming this first obstacle gives her the courage to put her big girl pants on and get her ass back to work... where her former lover/current boss/renowned fashion designer STEPHEN awaits.
The series will explore loss, sisterhood, femininity, sexuality, self worth, depression and addiction, but never go too too far into the dark. It's a hang that’s unflinchingly real with moments of levity. And though Emily’s disability will sometimes factor into the A story, this isn’t - and never will be - inspiration porn. If I do my job right, the audience will altogether forget Emily’s limb difference, and just see her as the dynamic and dysfunctional individual that she is.
Mary Pat Bentel is a filmmaker who tells socially relevant stories that drive audiences to laughter and tears while challenging them to reconsider their convictions. On the television side, Mary Pat most recently Executive Produced both seasons of THIS CLOSE (Sundance Channel), a series about two best friends, who happen to be deaf, adulting in Los Angeles; which she built from the ground up with first time creators. The series was nominated for Peabody and GLAAD awards, and won the PGA George Sungha award. In film, she most recently produced the psychological thriller WHO INVITED THEM, about a housewarming party that turns into a home invasion; which The Hollywood Reporter named one of The Best Horror Movies of 2022. After launching countless careers, Mary Pat is taking her shot as a writer/director, starting with THE COCKROACH, inspired by her own story about rediscovering herself after enduring life-changing injuries.