Don't Trust the B---- in Apt. 23: A Wacky, Live-Action Cartoon

By Tim Surette

Apr 12, 2012

Don't Trust the B---- in Apt. 23 S01E01: "Pilot"

Early on in the pilot for the new ABC comedy Don't Trust the B---- in Apt. 23, the series quickly distinguished its voice as wacky and cartoonish: June (Dreama Walker), freshly uprooted from her safe haven of the Midwest, arrived for her first day at her new downtown financial paper-pushing job to find the office in chaos because the company was being shut down by the government. A man in a suit ran around with a stack of papers on fire. Fax machines were rolled out to be pawned and bagels were stuffed in pants as the sweet sounds of panic alarms and rioting reverberated. It was an uproariously silly scene, a Family Guy-style cutaway in glorious live action.

From there the set-up was fast and furious: June needed to find a job and a place to live (her apartment was owned by the now-seized company) and she found the latter through Chloe (Krysten Ritter), an elitist, low-stakes con artist who has short-term roommates just to collect rent money to provide funds for ridiculous partying. Odd Couple 2012. We've seen this set-up a million times before and we know what will happen: They'll beef, they'll have their touching moments, and their roles will even reverse at some point (Episode 4, to be exact).

But what separates Don't Trust the B---- from other satisfactory sitcoms, aside from its polarizing title, is its dizzying tone and fun setting. There's something exciting here, and the goofy world the show has built is full of colorful characters and ridiculous situations. Just as Suburgatory created a nightmarish take on the suburbs, B---- has crafted a whimsical take on life in New York City, where underground sushi joints, druggy four-ways, and James Van Der Beek are a part of the everyday. And that's propped up by the frenetic pacing of the show. Series ceator Nahnatchka Khan also has a producing credit on Seth MacFarlane's American Dad, and it shows.

I could spend hours spouting off about how amazing and gorgeous Ritter is—you may know her as Breaking Bad's Jane—but we can discuss that in the bushes outside her apartment. And in later episodes, Walker (Gossip Girl) gets better as June as her character strays away from the role of the victim. Finally, Van Der Beek is great as a version of himself that we all like to think exists. That guy has really earned a lot of respect from me in his post-Dawson days (I loved him in The Rules of Attraction).

The pilot also introduced us to a host of great supporting characters—one of the show's strengths. Most notable is Eli (Michael Blaiklock), the pantsless, wanking neighbor. He's the modern-day Wilson from Home Improvement, someone who peers into the lives of our central characters, except he keeps a different head out of view. And he goes well beyond one-note jokes in later episodes to become one of TV's best new characters. Eric Andre is also perfectly understated as Mark, June's coworker at the coffee shop.

The pilot was far from perfect, but it did what it needed to do: Portray the world and tone of the show. And that's the important takeaway here. The stories get much better in subsequent episodes (I've seen two more, and ABC has made Episode 2 available online), and they're much more indicative of what this series can do.

Unlike most of this year's late-season sitcom entries, Don't Trust the B---- in Apt. 23 is a pleasant surprise. It has a clear sense of its cartoonish style and goofy tone, and it came out with confidence last night. It's not quite appointment television, but it definitely works as a substitute for Happy Endings.

B----in' Observations

– Few opportunities are wasted on this show, as tiny details amplify the effectiveness of scenes. Examples: Chloe eating (and not liking) the yogurt that June had JUST wrote her name on and put in the fridge, the Beek doing curls during a phone call. There's a refreshing lack of "set-up, set-up, punchline" comedy going on here.

– I'm not sure how we're supposed to believe that June and Chloe were amicable at the end there. For the sake of the series, they obviously have to be, but finding that balance between friendship and enemy-ship without defanging Chloe is going to be tricky.

– Chloe-stalker Robin (Liza Lapira) is going to be hit-and-miss as a character. But I laughed when she was screaming, "Take it! Take it!" while spraying Chloe's ass with champagne.

– At least no one said the word "vagina"!

– Good start for the show ratings-wise: a 2.9 in the adult demo and just under 7 million viewers.

Follow writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

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  • hockeyrick Apr 16, 2012

    Ridiculous!!! VDB is cool though!

    seriously, cant even get interested in the premise of this show!

  • saraint Apr 14, 2012

    It cracks me up that everyone is saying 'I wasn't expecting much from this show'; you've been selling it on here since the idea first hatched! It was going to be awesome from the get-go with Ritter and Van Der Beek. I love them both in everything they do (although he was the only character I disliked in DC). I only wasn't sure about the lead; I can't help but dislike her due to her character in The Good Wife. Still, I'm sure I'll get over it! Overall, I thought it was really good; well shot, imaginative and fun.

  • boom-moo Apr 14, 2012

    Watched without any expectations and I was pleasantly surprised. Looks promising so I will carry on tuning in and see how it develops.

  • AnaBrigovic Apr 13, 2012

    Dawson is the moon!!! the found footage vietnamese commercial was so brilliant! love van der beeks comedy chops

  • LydiaWilson1 Apr 13, 2012

    I always think of Krysten Ritter as being Rory's "girls gone wild friend" (Paris's words) from Gilmore Girls.

    I was pleasantly surprised by Blah blah blah 23 (hate the long title though) a handful of laugh out loud moments - plenty to keep me coming back.

    My husband was sad about the blurred out bits.

  • logossun Apr 13, 2012

    Hmm.... The pilot was interesting enough BUT this show is going to hinge on the dynamic of the roommates, and this was severely dented when Chloe showed her gentle side. In my opinion, that's far too soon for her character. It could bomb in a few episodes, or, if the characters get comfortable, it could excel.

  • Moron_Inc Apr 13, 2012

    I didn't know what to expect but I liked it quite a bit. It had me either laughing or smiling at every joke. I'm definatly going to keep watching it. The characters are all charming in their own ways resulting in bad role models but funny characters, good role models are boring though. And having the Beek play himself was awesome, every bit with his was funny and charming. All in all it's a very (I say it yet again) charming show and good for some laughs. I give it a conservative 7.5/10, a strong show undoubtedly to have some 10/10 episodes to come! :)

  • ben45tpy Apr 13, 2012

    I was also impressed. I didn't expect much but I was laughing and enjoying myself. After the build-up though I thought the Beek was just passable and I'm not sure that I'll find him any more than OK but the rest of the elements were great. I'll definitely keep watching for a while.

  • JT_Kirk Apr 13, 2012

    Just watched it on the dvr, much better than I expected, some really amusing stuff without feeling too nasty or sweet. As the pilot, it set up everything it needed to in fast and efficient manners without sacrificing a plot or jokes. It also used its single camera format better than any three camera in-studio style could have allotted while maintaining a fairly sitcom style of writing, which is impressive, especially for ABC.

  • jaden84 Apr 13, 2012

    I loved it. Next to Last Man Standing and Suburgatory, I think we have another winner here for ABC when it comes to comedies for this season.

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