Another week, another show to binge. But which one is the question? With the Big Brother-ish hand of Netflix steering you towards some of the more widely known selections, you need someone to help you find the diamonds in the media library. There are a lot of underseen, limit-pushing shows on Netflix. There are also a lot more soul sucking, garbage festivals of shows, too. So why not let us sift through the landfill of series, letting you know what’s what, so you’re not wasting your time?
The selection this week is the canceled-too-soon, former ABC series, Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23.
Nahnatchka Khan’s (of American Dad! fame) Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23, was a brilliant, yet mismanaged disaster from the get-go. In spite of being a widely hyped series before its launch, touting the return of James Van Der Beek to television (this is significant), and being given a cushy timeslot after Modern Family, it never really stood a chance due to ABC simply not being the right home for it.
The redacted title of the series alone is the first sign of a disconnect, and even though the show was given a very generous second season, episodes were aired out of order with seemingly no rhyme or reason behind some of these switches (a good deal of episodes from the middle of season one were aired in a “bulked out” season two), resulting in plotlines often being broken continuity-wise, or even being nearly impossible to stay on track of successfully. After its cancelation, it’s begun to find much of a second life and cult following, becoming the Better Off Ted of its day, more or less; its quality breaking through.
In an incredibly unassuming, doing-it-no-justice story sense, the series sees June Colburn (Dreama Walker) moving to big, shiny New York City to work at her dream job, only when she gets there, she learns the company’s gone under. June resorts to moving in with/the “Bitch” (a top of her game Krysten Ritter, of Breaking Bad fame), a borderline sociopathic con artist, and as they try to live together, hilarity ensues. Oh, and Chloe happens to be best friends with James Van Der Beek.
Two seasons, twenty-six episodes.
Why you should watch it: Unbridled insanity.
Chloe is basically a come-to-life cartoon character, and the closest thing we’ve gotten to a live action Roger from Khan’s previous effort, American Dad!, as she lives in hyperbole, shooting loved ones with tranq-darts, or being the inspiration for the Japanese manga “Tall Slut, No Panties” (“Arigato Heyyyy” y’all). The entire cast in this show shines, but Ritter is especially a standout. She just melts into Chloe in perfect osmosis. This is a character Ritter could have played for the rest of her life and I don’t think anyone would have ever minded.
James Van Der Beek also goes really above and beyond here, with his character working far better than it has any business to. He’s doing the same shtick that LeBlanc is doing in Joey and Larry David is doing in Curb, playing an exaggerated version of himself, but this feels like the most fully realized execution of that idea.
The biggest bummer here is that the series seems to be the most together, and confident in what it is and where it’s going in the final episode, which features Dream Charo among other things. The second season saw the show refining one of the most unique voices on television at the time as it straddled the line between surrealism and emotional revelations.
So while this anomaly of a sitcom may just look like a re-appropriation of The Odd Couple, it’s actually exploring a much more dangerous dynamic with the series telling the story of June’s slow corruption, and Chloe’s gradual (very gradual) redemption, as they rub off on each other more and more. But surprisingly enough, at its core, under all of the Dawson’s Creek references and Plan B popping, this was a show about friendship, and most importantly, lady friendship and sisterhood.
Granted, this is without a doubt an area that has blown up recently in television, but remember that this was in a pre-Playing House, New Girl world, and this show was pulling off this dynamic in a scary, new impressive way that we only now seem to be ready for. And while current analogs like 2 Broke Girls are being criticized for going too far for the sake of it; Don’t Trust the B—-– arguably took it even further (this is a show where in the second episode, June has sex with Chloe’s dad, and then pretends to be crippled as a ploy to elicit empathy from the wife/June’s mother), all while rooting it in sweet, sweet sociopathic character development. Could you honestly say you couldn’t picture this airing alongside Broad City, and it not seeming like the most natural fit in the world?
This series is for you if:
An ongoing plotline which has Van Der Beek auditioning for a cross-dressing Woody Allen film titled, “Monte Carlo/Monte Carla,” repeated use of tranq-darts to solve problems, and more mentions of Frasier’s Roz than any other sitcoms in the past decade combined, all appeal to you.
Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23 has one of the most unique and surprisingly confident voices in a sitcom, considering the short time it aired. Underneath its chaotic delirium is a warm core though. In spite of a mismanaged supporting cast, the core group and ambitious stories will be more than enough to get you binging through this hard. Trust us, on Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23.
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