Don't Trust The B—- In Apartment 23
If the wishy-washy nature of the neutered title might have led you to believe that here was yet another attempt to by a major network to push boundaries while ultimately lacking the balls to follow through, think again. Don’t Trust The B—- in Apartment 23 is surprisingly raunchy by mainstream standards; the pilot manages to cram in plenty of masturbation gags, semi-clothed romping and, at one point, a pixilated-out, completely naked Krysten Ritter strolling through her kitchen. Blurry though she might be, such is the deep blackness of the hair on her head that it is easy enough for the viewer to discern that, no, the carpet doesn’t match the drapes – because there is no carpet.
Ritter stars as Chloe, the eponymous apartment-dweller, so named for her habitual con-job of luring unsuspecting new-arrivals to her Manhattan abode with the offer of a roomshare, and then wreaking havoc on their lives until they inevitably despair and move out, allowing her to pocket their first, last, and security deposit. As successful and unremorseful as Chloe is at this, she meets her match in the form of June (Dreama Walker), a Midwestern native whose NYC relocation package has just been seized by the Federal Government in a sting operation.
With literally nowhere to go, June is not quite the pushover Chloe has been accustomed to and a battle of wills ensues with June responding to the realization that Chloe grossly overcharged her on the rent by selling all of her furniture. Comedic tit-for-tat ensues, grudging respect is exchanged, and the end of the pilot establishes a tentative friendship dynamic moving forward. Ritter and Walker share an easy chemistry, and despite the overly familiar variations on standard sitcom fodder (quirky neighbor down the hall, walking in on each other in the bathroom, etc.) the gags to giggles ratio is suitably high.
Where the alarm bells start ringing, however, is in the integration of the wider, supporting characters, who thus far seem to coast by on a single gimmick apiece. Eli (Michael Blaiklock), the perverted neighbor next door, who spies on the girls, and whom it is implied has fidgety hands and doesn’t wear pants, is funny for now, but shackling him to the other side of the kitchen window rather limits his potential. Mark (Eric Andre), who would have been June’s boss had the company not been shut down, seemingly only exists to offer a convenient secondary location by way of his now working in a local coffee shop. There is even a gag tossed around that his presence literally serves no purpose.
Then there is James Van Der Beek, who will either turn out to be this show’s ace-in-the-hole or the albatross around its neck. Van Der Beek is playing a loosely fictionalized version of himself, wracked with annoyance that while he strives to “beat James Franco at acting” all anyone ever wants him to do is put on a red flannel shirt and recite the purple prose of Dawson’s Creek. That’s a gag that’ll play well – for a couple of weeks. Whether or not he is able to transcend his teen idol status, a la Neil Patrick Harris, remains to be seen.
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