Don't Trust The B---- In Apartment 23
Over time the television staple, the situational comedy has explored a rather eclectic range of odd and implausible circumstances. While most sit-coms are centered around the prevalent definition of an American family occasionally other core groups such as a circle of friends or people in a neighborhood bar and suffice as the core characters necessary to derive the humor. Years ago the networks sought to tap into the market on young people out on their own embarking on their lives. Series such as ‘That Girl’ or ‘Lavern and Shirley’ are the prototypical example of such a premise. Now the disenchanted generation, the millenniums have achieved cultural ascendency and once again the networks have come up with a show to incorporate their defining characteristics into the story lines. ‘Don't Trust The B---- In Apartment 23’ was broadcast on ABC for almost two seasons. Although well received among the critics and fans the second season was cancelled eight episodes short of achieve a two season run of 26 episodes. Those unaired episodes were available, on line so season pass subscribers were able to view them albeit five months after the show ceased to broadcast. Another five months after that the DVD of the complete series was released. The shaky commitment by Fox was continued by the fact that although the series was made available id didn’t receive a full production release. Instead it is offered as a Fox MOD, manufactured on Demand title, something relatively new to their marketing paradigm. This method has been used to distribute some cult classic films and perhaps now that the precedence has been established more cult classic series will come out in this fashion.
June Colburn (Dreama Walker) as found herself on the road to her carefully planned dream life. June has secured a position in New York City with a large financial institution. One of the perks of the job is it comes with a sizable, rent free apartment. Full of hope an enthusiasm June departs from her parent’s home in Indiana arriving in NYC as the series begins. Unfortunately the day she reports for work she walks in on the staff packing up the premises. The authorities have busted the CEO for running a Ponzi scheme and all the corporate assets have been seized, including June’s new apartment. Down, but not out, the always optimistic June is determined not to let this setback completely destroy her dreams. June finds a job as a barista in as neighborhood coffee house and looks for an affordable apartment June feels that she is back on track. When she answers an ad June signs on a share with Chloe (Krysten Ritter). Her new roommate is the moist annoying, irresponsible and self-absorbed person ever. Chloe, no surname ever mentioned, is the titular ‘B’ of the show. It’s odd that the use of the word bitch as a pejorative on broadcast television for some time now but supposedly avoiding the actual spelling is obviously for comedic effect. June is the type of person that would be reticent to use such language, especially to her roommate. After all in June’s universe roommates are supposed to be friends. Ashamed to return back home in defeat June has no recourse but to stick it out.
True to the sit-com format the show is seasoned with the mandatory quirky friends. June’s would be supervisor at the defunct firm, Mark Reynolds (Michael Blaiklock) now the manager of the coffee shop where June is employed. He has a crush on the naive blonde. Across the alleyway from the girl’s apartment is Eli Webber (an unapologetic voyeur blatantly watches Chloe and June through their window. Arguably the most unusual character is James Van Der Beek playing a fictionalized caricature of the real actor. He is close friends with Chloe and disparate to reinvigorate his slumping post ‘Dawson’s Creek’ career. In the second season he hires the effeminate Luther Wilson (Ray Ford) as his overly devoted personal assistant.
Initially it seems that June just can’t catch a break in New York especially when it comes to being a victim of fraud. It turns out that Chloe has been successfully running her own con scheme. She takes on a roommate requiring the usual first and last month’s rent. Then buy being the biggest bitch, pretty much her natural personality, she drives the roommate away forfeiting the money. Chloe can then pay the rent in full and since the rent stated was greatly exaggerated, it provides a tidy profit for the conniving Chloe. June discovers this thanks to a firmer victim, Robin (Liza Lapira). Robin currently lives down the hall from apartment 23 and has an intense infatuation with Chloe.
For such a high concept premise there was more in the way of exploring the characters than just making fun of the stereotypes. Yes there is a significant amount of that kind of satire based on juxtaposing two diametrically opposite personalities to generate the necessary conflict for a humorous situation. In this this respect this series is similar to ‘The Odd Couple’ with fundamental morality as the dividing line rather than neatness. What was to be expected is for June to try to reform the amoral Chloe which naturally enough does occur. What is subtlety handled by the writers is the other the side of the coin. June begins to be influenced by Chloe. To the credit of the writers they perform this potentially risky task with a modicum of élan. June is not outright corrupted; that would be far too easy to pull off. Instead June takes on a more benign manifestation. As Chloe shows glimpses of humanity albeit frequently misplaced in execution June started to exhibit an openness to experience life beyond what is on her clearly marked path. This made June just a bit more adventurous and curious about life. The two moved towards a middle ground and an actual friendship.
The addition of James Van Der Beek was a brilliant casting decision that opened up the stories to a spoof of reality television and some other well-known celebrities also portraying alternate reality versions of their public personalities. With people like Busy Philipps, Dean Cain and Kevin Sorbo added to the mix Van Der Beek gets to play up the celebrity past their expiration date persona to the hilt. The platform for this is the series sending up a parody of reality contests by having him sign on for a season of ‘Dancing with the Stars’. The series may not have been eligible for the lamentable ‘brilliant but cancelled’ list but it certainly was cancelled before it could fully approach its potential. While the series and the cast garnered a positive reaction it was killed before the second season could completely air. At least Fox picked up the distribution rights and their complete series MOD release has all the episodes filmed included.