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Monday, 25 of March of 2019

Don’t Trust the B— in Apt 23 – “Pilot” & “Daddy’s Girl…”

“I was arm wrestling Kevin Sorbo in a Canadian production of…”

Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23Don’t Trust the B—- in Apt 23 is a painfully misleading title that really only applies to the pilot episode and is pretty much meaningless by the end of the second episode. This isn’t a criticism precisely, as lots of shows grow away from their premise, but the show’s title, like Cougar Town before it, will probably become a barrier in getting an audience to come to it.

And an audience should seek out Apt. 23. It’s not an absurdly funny show, but I find it rather likable, with a strong central performance from Krysten Ritter (who, I admit, I’ve always liked as a performer). It certainly isn’t going to light the sitcom world on fire, and there are little problems with it, but there’s enough in these first two episodes for a show to grow into something very pleasing.

The biggest issue, really, is that the title really only applies to Chloe’s behavior in the first episode, but even the most significantly bitchy thing — sleeping with June’s philander of a fiancé — is done for June’s benefit. Admittedly, June earns Chloe’s respect by earning back the ottoman with stimulants (June’s speech is well-delivered and genuinely funny), but at that point it isn’t so much June living with a dreadful roommate as it is an odd couple show.

That being said, it’ll likely become a good odd couple show. Ritter and Dreama Walker have an easy chemistry with on another, with both comfortable in their respective roles. Both characters are still fairly broad (Walker’s Midwestern, can-do-optimism is particularly stock), but this is something that can be refined as the show progresses, and the characters fleshed out a bit more. Gestures are made to that at the end of “Daddy’s Girl…” with Chloe, so the show does seem aware of this.

 I’m a little less optimistic about the supporting cast, which I feel could stand to lose, at the very least, Eli. His creepy pervert in the building next door isn’t really that funny at all, bogged down with lazy masturbation and sex doll jokes. His moment of insight into Chloe’s psyche is a good enough moment, but could have just as easily been delivered by either Robin, the Chloe’s obsessed across the hall neighbor or James Van Der Beek. I am also unconvinced what role, based on these episodes, Mark plays in this show beyond having someone for people to talk to in the generic coffee shop (complete with establishing shots, which seemed weird, by the way).

Speaking of Mr. Van Der Beek. I’m not exactly sold on him playing this version of himself. I know this supposed to be fun, and I’m hoping the show has gotten its Dawson’s Creek jokes out of its system as I’d like to see them push this in different directions (a rivalry with James Franco seems like a promising move). The problem with this sort of thing, at least in an on-going show, is that you have to find ways to play with the star’s image while still have it feel integrated into the show’s narrative (see: It’s Like, You Know… and jokes about Jennifer Grey’s nose and career).

That’s a tough balance, but I do hope the show pulls it off, because Van Deer Beek does gel nicely with Ritter and Walker, and the show around these three is the show I liked and responded to while I watched. I’m hopeful for improvements, and I’ll keep checking for them.


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