Jeremy Likes TV

I like TV. Probably more than any human should.

Quick Review: Don’t Trust The Bitch In Apartment 23

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Grade: B

There’s been a growing trend with all of the new media available in our technology-laden world where television networks have begun to preview their new series before they hit the air via traditional means. Whether it’s through their own websites, through Netflix, or through Hulu, the major networks are making it even easier for viewers to sample shows before they “officially” premiere hoping that good word of mouth will help a show get noticed in our ever-increasing 501 channel universe. To that end, ABC has made the first two episodes of its new sitcom Don’t Trust The Bitch In Apartment 23 [1] available on Hulu in advance of its official premiere tonight at 9:30PM ET following Modern Family. By giving Don’t Trust The Bitch… its most primo real estate – the slot immediately following the network’s biggest scripted hit – it’s clear that ABC has high hopes for it and, after watching the premiere on Hulu last night, I have to say that I share their enthusiasm for it. Many have compared the show in some respects to Cougar Town [2] and Hitfix’s Alan Sepinwall in particular has imagined a world where Don’t Trust The Bitch…, Cougar Town, and Happy Endings could all occupy one single night of quality comedy on ABC, and those comparisons aren’t at all out of place. Its pilot showed it to be a smart, irreverent comedy that definitely deserves an audience even though – as most television shows tend to do – it arrives less than fully formed. However, the skeleton of a very good show is evident. The good: both of the leads, Dreama Walker (Gossip Girl) as naïve June and Kristen Ritter (Breaking Bad) as the titular bitch, Chloe, share a good chemistry as mismatched roommates. June arrives in New York from Indiana after her employer, a mortgage company, foots the bill for her relocation and sets her up with a gorgeous (and ridiculously expensive) apartment. Too good to be true, yes? Yes, it is because when June shows up for work on her first day, the company is in a mortgage crisis meltdown thanks to the company’s CEO embezzling clients out of millions of dollars. This leaves June jobless and homeless, so she answers a “roommate needed” ad from Chloe and, after a seemingly smooth interview she decides to move in. In short order, however, Chloe reveals herself to be a con artist who dupes naïve women into moving in only to then become the roommate from hell, forcing them to move out out of frustration while keeping their money. You can probably surmise what happens from here [3] and, while that type of story is somewhat boilerplate its content isn’t. Pixilated nudity, multiple masturbation jokes, drug-running, juvenile drinking, and stalkers all figure into the half-hour’s jokes and most of them are pretty damn funny. However, without question, Don’t Trust The Bitch’s coup de grace is the inclusion of Dawson’s Creek’s James Van Der Beek playing… James Van Der Beek [4], Chloe’s best friend. Clearly modeled after How I Met Your Mother star Neil Patrick Harris’s lampooning of a heightened version of himself in the Harold & Kumar film franchise, here Van Der Beek is a narcissistic version of himself who uses his former teen idol status to hook up with random fans. Seeing Van Der Beek – who, truth be told, has historically been more than willing to poke fun at himself and at his image [5] – sign up for something like this provides the show with a wealth of potential material and is perhaps the most interesting thing that Don’t Trust The Bitch… has in its arsenal. While it’s not entirely perfect – Liza Lapira’s (Dollhouse) Chloe-stalking character needs to be tweaked into something that can believably fit into the show’s world, for example – there’s enough here to suggest that Don’t Trust The Bitch… deserves ample time to find its way. In a lot of ways, it covers the same type of ground that CBS’s hit 2 Broke Girls does, only it’s not actively detestable like 2 Broke Girls is, not to mention that one episode in it’s already the better show with the potential to get better with time. Airing after Modern Family may just allow it that time.

[1] Technically, it’s called Don’t Trust The B—- In Apartment 23 but we all know what that censored word is and I’m not going to insult yours or my intelligence by writing it that way. The word is “bitch,” ABC. Get over it.
[2] Mostly because both shows are deft comedies that are saddled with regrettable titles.
[3] In case you’ve never watched television before, June proves to be more of a challenge than Chloe anticipated and they come to a sort of understanding/friendship by the end of the episode.
[4] Referred to at one point as “The Beek From The Creek.”
[5] Evidence: His cameo in Jay & Silent Bob Strikes Back and his Funny Or Die video.

Miscellany:
*I’m not often a fan of the in media res device that shows are too willing to use these days, but the show managed to save the plot later on even as that was somewhat predictable itself. To get too into what it was would probably constitute a spoiler but, suffice it to say, the execution was pretty decent.
*Whoever the show’s musical director is, they’re doing a good job. I heard both Sleigh Bells and Nouvelle Vague in this episode.
*I worked at a mortgage company for a number of years that indirectly went under thanks to the mortgage crisis. I can assure you – the looting that goes on when June shows up for her first day of work didn’t actually happen. Although, it would have been fun if it had.
*The device that sees June “interacting” with family members, her fiancé, etc. through Skype-like means is a unique touch that fits the show well here. We’ll see if it continues.
*Chloe tells June that she and Van Der Beek dated at one point but found that they weren’t “genitally compatible”: “Imagine trying to fit a cucumber into a coin purse.”
*In case you were wondering, the title of the show is indeed spoken as a line of dialogue during the pilot.
*The name of a rap that June wrote at a Christian camp? “Jesus Is My N-Word.”
*During one of Van Der Beek’s hookups with a Dawson’s Creek fan, Paula Cole’s “I Don’t Want To Wait” plays over his sound system. It makes another appearance later when June starts singing it when meets Van Der Beek for the first time, only to have him shut her down with a weary, “Yep. That’s the song.”
*And of course there had to be a Varsity Blues homage in the scene with said hookup.
*”I’ve heard that bread out there is $4.00 a loaf. Don’t buy bread. I’LL SEND YOU BREAD!!”
*”So you’re saying you stole from me?” “Ugh… that’s such an ugly word. But yes.”
*”So… you like to rub-a-dub-dub in the tub?”
*”Who is this prostitute?”
*”Hey, Lovely Eyes. How come you got such lovely eyes?”
*”You have made me an accomplice in drugs!”
*”Anyone wanna get weird and play Mario Kart?”
*”Hey, you know what’s fun? Alcohol.”
*”Don’t be a blonde dude in a Vietnamese jail, June. That’s the real life lesson here.”
*”It came at a price. I got a lot of frosting in my crack.”
*Episode below courtesy of Hulu.

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