April 11, 2012

The Sked: PREMIERING TONIGHT: Don’t Trust the B- in Apt 23 REVIEW

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Written by: Mitch Salem
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>Premiering tonight after Modern Family on ABC (at 9:30/ 8:30 Central) is Don’t Trust the B- in Apt. 23 (formerly titled Don’t Trust the Bitch in Apt. 23 or simply Apt. 23 during the upfront season last year, when this review from Mitch Salem was originally posted.  

Disclaimer:  Network pilots now in circulation are not necessarily in the form that will air in the Fall.  Pilots are often reedited and rescored, and in some cases even recast or reshot.  So these critiques shouldn’t be taken as full TV pilot reviews, but rather as a guide to the general style and content of the new shows coming your way.

APT. 23 –  Midseason on ABC:   Potential DVR Alert

Like beasts onto Noah’s ark, the paired new series continue this season.  In the sitcom subgenre of “tough girl and naive newcomer share a NY apartment,” the previous occupant 2 Broke Girls (see review here) is joined by ABC’s APT. 23.  Despite the similar premises, the two shows are easiliy distinguished:  Apt. 23 is the good one.

Apt. 23 is one of two ABC series that needed to have its initial title changed for broadcast standards/sales reasons.  The original, and more pungently accurate, title was “Don’t Trust the Bitch In Apt. 23”.  (The other offending title was “Good Christian Bitches,” which had its last word changed to “Belles.”)  Chloe (Krysten Ritter) is a cheerfully amoral denizen of Manhattan, constantly scamming and taking of advantage of anyone who crosses her path.  When small-town girl June (Dreama Walker) watches her dream of a glamorous NY life fall apart (she came to town for a job at a mortgage company) and has to move into a shared apartment, Chloe unapologetically takes her for all she’s worth.  But June isn’t without resources of her own; she gets her revenge.  Naturally–this is a TV show, after all–Chloe finds this rather admirable, and by the pilot’s end, the two are going to be friends.

As in most sitcoms, the premise only takes you so far:  a show like this works (or doesn’t) because of its writing and cast.  Nahnatchka Khan, an American Dad writer, provides as much edge as network TV will allow, and some surreal wit:  Chloe’s best friend is the “real” James Van der Beek, depicted here as a Lothario who’s more than happy to make use of his Dawson’s Creek memorabilia to get women into bed.  Even the small scenes have nice touches, as when June finds out her supposed new job has gone bust and watches the former employees running by with stolen giant copy machines and other equipment 

The leads are a happy match.  Ritter’s been doing terrific work for the last few years on shows that range from the light comedy of Gilmore Girls to the stark drama of Breaking Bad; she grounds Chloe, while keeping the character’s heart of gold more under wraps than the one of Kat Dennings’ parallel character on 2 Broke Girls.  Walker is a smart choice as the naive June, because as fans of The Good Wife know, she can play duplicitous as well as anyone, and is believably Chloe’s match (unlike her airhead parallel in Broke Girls).  The pilot is sharply paced by Jason Winer, who directed the initial Modern Family.

It’s been reported that ABC’s plan is to schedule Apt. 23 as a comedy hour with Cougar Town on Tuesdays 9-10PM, after the fall cycle of Dancing With the Stars ends.  Although this would make for a fine hour of TV comedy, being that Cougar Town is perhaps the most famously underappreciated half-hour on the air, it would sadly place Cougar and Apt. 23 against FOX’s New Girl (review here) and Raising Hope, in one of those head-to-head cage matches networks seem altogether too fond of staging. In other words, it’ll be a good time to have a working DVR.Show all

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."