May 24, 2012

THE SKED SEASON FINALE REVIEW: “Don’t Trust the B___ In Apt 23”

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Written by: Mitch Salem
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In its short (7 episode) first season, DON’T TRUST THE B___ IN APT 23 hasn’t yet proven itself the equal of Happy Endings, the show it replaced in ABC’s prime post-Modern Family timeslot.  However, the show has enough going for it to be a funny, entertaining ride (and besides, it took Happy most of its first–longer–season to find its own voice and style).

It continues to be impossible not to compare Apt 23 with 2 Broke Girls, because both shows have essentially identical premises:  a naive out-of-towner, here June (Dreama Walker) comes to New York and moves in with sassy, street-smart and sneaky roommate, the “B___” of the title, Chloe (Krysten Walker).  Even though the two seem to have nothing in common, and the more experienced roomie is often rude, sarcastic and dismissive, she has a good heart underneath, and they form an unlikely friendship.

Apt 23 is far better written than 2 Broke Girls, smarter and less over-the-top, without any of the cringe-worthy ethnic jokes or the seeming requirement that the word “vagina” be used in every episode.  However, although both shows have the benefit of great timeslots, Broke Girls is the far bigger hit.  Part of that is probably attributable to Kat Dennings, who’s got warmth and star quality to spare, and part to Broke Girls‘ old-fashioned muulticamera silliness.  Apt 23 wants to be cooler and more sophisticated, and it is, but that’s also a bit distancing.

Tonight’s season finale, written by Co-Executive Producers Casey Johnson and David Windsor, and directed by Wendey Stanzler, was a case in point.  The main story had June, drinking too much when out with Chloe (whose tolerance for booze has no bottom), getting alcohol poisoning and thus being unable to drink for 6 months, an unpardonable sin from Chloe’s point of view.  The two are able to bond, though, when June discovers that Chloe not only is the subject of a hit Japanese series of graphic novels, but secretly really cares about having something to mark her brief time as a local celebrity.  That’s a much more esoteric storyline than a typical 2 Broke Girls, which has the leads coming up with some goofy plan to improve their cupcake business.  Similarly, Apt 23‘s B story concerned “James Van Der Beek” obsessed with the fact that Dean Cain’s Dancing With the Stars dressing room was 6 inches larger than his(It was a nice touch that both actors can count ceiling tiles seemingly without even glancing at them.)  These were funny stories, but not exactly mainstream, and yet they lack the emotional depth that New Girl routinely brings to the genre or the surreal highs of a Happy Endings episode.

One shortcoming that Apt 23 and Broke Girls share is a weak set of supporting characters.  Apt 23‘s aren’t as borderline offensive as the Korean, Russian, Polish and black characters populating the Broke Girls diner, but health inspector/pervert Eli (Michael Blaiklock), June’s coffee-shop boss Mark (Eric Andre) and Chloe’s stalkerish former roommate Robin (Liza Lapira) don’t add much or form a real ensemble with the leads.

Apt 23 has plenty of promise, and a 2d season to keep developing.  It’s moving into TV’s Fall Hour of Sitcom Death, though, aka Tuesday 9PM, against competing half-hours on NBC and FOX and with Happy Endings, a wonderful show but not a breakout hit, as its lead-in.  The hope is that ABC will give the series a fair chance to grow, both creatively and in the ratings, before deciding to sublet its timeslot.

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."