Strong performances save show from trite plot
TV Review | 3.5 out of 5 stars
Published: Thursday, April 26, 2012
Updated: Thursday, April 26, 2012 11:04
In a quick 20 minutes of actual show time, “Don’t Trust the B---- in Apt. 23” manages to captivate its audience and bring out some genuine moments of laughter. The new ABC sitcom follows two radically different, single women sharing an apartment in New York City. The show begins when June (Dreama Walker), a Midwestern woman with Wall Street aspirations and a life plan to boot begins rooming with Chloe (Krysten Ritter), who is far more assertive than her and a con artist. Chloe attempts to scam June, but June has a bit more backbone than previously expected, and the two discover an unforeseen friendship.
Krysten Ritter fills the show with life and color as Chloe, the titular b----. Though Chloe might not be the Regina George of “Mean Girls” (2004) fame or Libby from “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch” (1996-2003), she owns the slur that defines her in her own right for trying to con June. Her heart is found maybe a bit too quickly to keep the title of the show, though her evil plans — such as setting up her father with June — do seem to be a bit on the insane side. Either way, Ritter brings nonchalance, toughness and her own brand of cattiness to the show.
June, perhaps stereotypically thanks to her Midwestern background, has guts and determination. Her naivete wears off quickly as she takes what Chloe is dishing and sends it right back. After the two become friends, June’s perpetual exasperation with Chloe definitely gets bothersome, but she finds her moments in interacting with Mark, and even with Scott, Chloe’s dad.
This plotline isn’t original by any means: a new, naive girl meets a “mean” city girl and the two develop an odd friendship. Faced with this tiresome story, the supporting cast is fundamental in maintaining audience interest in the show. James Van Der Beek plays himself, and in doing so satirizes both himself and his past acting experiences with “Dawson’s Creek” (1998-2003) and acting as a profession. He does so with style. Mark (Eric Andre), June’s almost-boss, is a barista and serves a helpful cup of comic reality, while Eli (Michael Blaiklock) uses typical “guy” humor to play Chloe and June’s next door neighbor.
Though most comedies resort to a classless type of humor based on crude, sexual jokes, this comedy somehow avoids that for the most part — and succeeds. The jokes and laughs are from the two strong leads’ interactions with each other and their friends, and they result in the show’s success as a situational comedy.
Khan’s writing for “Don’t Trust the B----” is quirky and lends itself to creating strong, distinguished characters that don’t meld together after a while. At times, the lines do tend to reflect a certain immaturity inherent to a summer chick flick, but they mainly stick to cleverness and character growth. In the works for more screen time are Robin (Liza Lapira), Chloe’s ex-roommate, and Luther (Ray Ford), Van Der Beek’s assistant and tailor, who, despite only having had a few lines yet, seems to be well worth waiting for.
A pivotal topic the show treads upon in the funniest way it can is whether fate exists or whether individuals have control over their own paths. Chloe calls out June for having a life plan that never seems to work out and invites her to see things differently and live a little. Though she is reluctant to admit it, toward the end of the second episode it seems that Chloe has won June over with her incredibly profound, comical and patronizing words.
Whichever side you find yourself on, make 20 minutes in your life plan for this TV show. You are safe from the b---h, at least on this side of the screen.