What’s this? A picture prefacing my review? Whaaat? Don’t worry, it’s still me, Guptasaab, and not some other poster. I realized (SUPER belatedly) that it was ironic that despite being such a visual person, I hadn’t posted any pictures on this site. Visuals are what attract me in the first place, so what was I doing posting without any visuals? How did I even attract any readers? Any who, I’ve decided to remedy my mistake and hence the huge picture of the show I’m reviewing today.
Anyways, onto the show! I had heard about Don’t Trust the B– in Apt 23 (DTtB) way back when it first premiered, in 2012, but I never watched it simply because it didn’t seem like my cup of tea. I never really watched Dawson’s Creek and the other actors were unknowns for me as well, so it just never really pinged on my to-watch radar. However, a few weeks ago, my co-worker discovered this show on Netflix and recommended it to me. So I decided to take her advice and watch the show.
Briefly, the show is centred around three characters: June, the lead who rooms with the B– in Apt 23, Chloe, the B– herself, and James Van Der Beek, playing a fictional version of himself. In the introductory episode, we’re introduced to the three characters and the basic story-line. June is a small-town girl from the Midwest (Indiana) who moves to New York for her job, which she ends up losing in the first episode itself. Needing a place to stay, she answers Chloe’s ad for a roommate, and hence ends up rooming with her. Naive, positive, and nice, June is basically your average nice girl-next-door. She’s only been with one guy (her fiance), was top of her class in grad school, believes that everyone has some good in them, likes helping people out, and lives a very scheduled and responsible (somewhat boring) life. In other words, she sorta fits into the archetype of the naive, country girl coming to the city for the first time and realizing that there’s more to life than just being honest, trusting, and kind. On the other end of the spectrum is Chloe.
Chloe is actually a little difficult to describe. When the show first started, I thought she was a literal psychopath. As the show continued, I grew to like her and sorta understand her and realize that perhaps she wasn’t quite a psycho. However, in the true grey fashion of life, Chloe is quite the grey character herself (in other words, she’s more of a sociopath than psychopath). Chloe lives a party girl lifestyle that she finances through scams, which often involve a lot of lying and messing around with people’s lives. As you can surmise, she’s also portrayed as being a little immoral, being a fan of unbridled drinking and irresponsible partying 24/7. In other words, she’s not the most virtuous character or your typical protagonist. Yet, despite these traits, Chloe is also very loyal to her friends and does try to help them out in her own way. In the first episode, it turns out that Chloe’s ad for a roommate was a scam in itself (a scam she had apparently pulled off numerous times successfully), as she intended to scare June into leaving the apartment, while keeping all her extra rent money (she over-charged June purposely). However, when June outsmarts her, she grows a soft spot for her and in a show of loyalty and ‘kindness’, she has sex with June’s ex-fiance in order to show June what a serial cheater her ex-fiance is. That example kinda also perfectly summarizes Chloe, nice, in her own way, but also very selfish with sociopathic tendencies.
And finally, we have James playing himself. James character is hilarious. He’s very self-obsessed, desperate to revive his career, but also a good friend to the girls (best friends with Chloe in fact).
The rest of the show is about the adventures the two girls and James have. Throughout the show, Chloe teaches June to live a little. June goes on many adventures with Chloe, learns to let loose from time to time, be a little more confident, and accept that life is more than a little grey. And June, for her part, teaches Chloe to be a little bit more caring and self-aware. Written down, it sounds pretty cliche and I guess the show can be a little cliche. But, in my opinion, it’s still pretty fresh just because Chloe still remains such a bitch and June still remains a strict good girl; the two never manage to change each other completely and accept that.
Which brings me to the characters and actors. June is perpetually trying to look on the positive side of things and believes in being honest and seeing the good in others. Predictably, she gets a little grating to watch. I’m not a fan of super goody-good characters in the first place, so June could get a little too preachy for me at times. That said, there were also some really enjoyable and nice things about June. For one thing, I loved her passion over getting a job. Too ashamed to go back home to her parents, June begins working as a barista in order to finance herself in New York, but also never leaves her dream of working on Wall Street. She sends her resume everywhere, goes to companies to try and talk to people, and even attempts to network using Chloe’s methods. No matter what happens, she remains focused on getting her dream job. As a recent grad whose had some difficulty in the employment arena, watching June’s struggle and hustle was kind of inspiring. And I also really liked how June was unapologetic about who she was; well, sometimes she was. She was a dork and she almost embraced it. There were a few moments where even I felt embarrassed for her, but she never did and sorta just owned it. She was also a good foil to Chloe’s craziness (often being the only one who literally saw and pointed out the insanity that was Chloe and her ideas/ lifestyle). That said, June was also really annoying a lot of the time. To be honest, I’m not sure if it was just the actor or if it was the character. Which is why I’m also torn on my view of the actor. June was portrayed by Dreama Walker. I have never seen Dreama Walker in anything before and so this was my first introduction to her. I just, I find her kind of annoying. Maybe it was the way she was styled? Or the way she spoke? Or just the way June was, but I just found her so incredibly annoying. I actually forwarded quite a few scenes of June’s, to be honest. But, as mentioned earlier, I’m not sure if my annoyance stemmed from her as an actor/ person specifically, or if it stemmed from June. You know what they say about actors who portray negative roles so brilliantly that people begin sending them hate mail? Maybe that’s what happened with Dreama and I? Maybe she played June to be such an annoying do-good-er that I actually ended up finding her, Dreama, annoying? Or maybe Dreama is just an annoying actress? Like I said, I have no idea and I’m torn. Either way, June was annoying but with glimpses of inspiration. So either Dreama was annoying with glimpses of great acting, or she was a really good actor in general. I’m leaning toward the latter but not sure since my annoyance of her blocks me from thinking objectively.
Yet, no matter how indecisive I was about June/Dreama, I wasn’t nearly as confused when it came to Chloe/ Krysten Ritter. Chloe, as a character, is literally insane. And I mean literally, she actually went to psycho-camp as a child and resents her wheelchair-bound mother for never taking her horse-back riding or to dancing classes as a child (?!?). I mean, even written down, it’s easy to spot the insanity that characterizes Chloe. While June can be compared to an angel, Chloe could be termed a demon. But, despite that, as the show goes on, Chloe is actually pretty inspiring as well and super fun to watch. Out of all the characters, I never forwarded through any of Chloe’s scenes. She was definitely crazy (constantly sub-letting James Van Der Beek’s apartment behind his back when he was out of town so she could make some extra cash, and making most of her income through entertaining UN Delegates during the United Nations meeting), but she was also nice and loyal to her friends and not completely crazy. I just, it’s difficult to describe her. She’s definitely a bitch, but she’s a nice bitch, if that makes any sense. And I think a lot of the credit for her coming across as this nice crazy person vs. this insane bitch, goes not only to the writing of the show, but also to the actress portraying her, Krysten Ritter. Krysten Ritter does a really good job at making Chloe be this girl you want to be friends with, rather than being this girl you hate for being so mean. She plays Chloe effortlessly and in such a fun manner. I really think she was the shining beacon in this show. Had there been any other actor, it would’ve been really easy to hate Chloe and/or dislike her for how immoral and insane she could be. But Krysten Ritter played Chloe on such a fine line between crazy bitch and fun friend, that you couldn’t help but like her. That said, my review on Krysten Ritter may be tainted due to my previous awareness of her. I had actually heard of her and have seen her acting before in other things (wassap Jessica Jones!). So, I could definitely be playing up just how amazing she was as Chloe, but I do wanna reiterate, she was really good in DTtB. Many of other critics have praised her as well and my friend liked her too. So while I am biased, I’m not that biased.
And finally, coming to James. James was just something else. I had never watched Dawson’s Creek (have no desire to do so either) but I had heard of him. So seeing him play himself in this show was definitely quite the experience (in a good way!). He played such a self-obsessed person, it was actually hilarious. For example, when talking to a homeless kid while volunteering at the soup kitchen, which he only does to get a photo-op in People magazine in the first place (LOL), he only thinks about how the food he’s eating at the soup kitchen is disgusting, while the kid talking to him is telling him his sad story about being homeless. It’s actually hilarious in how self-obssessed he is. And to be honest, seeing him do such a role actually made me appreciate the real James Van Der Beek. I think it takes courage to play the worst version of yourself on TV. But then again, I think he also got lucky in that the writing for the show always shied away from making him completely horrible and instead made him horrible in a funny manner rather than in an insulting manner.
Which I think is a good segue into talking about the writing for the show and it’s storyline. I’ve already discussed the storyline and it’s nothing really ground-breaking. But despite its simplistic outline, I think the writing in the show is pretty good. Despite the cliche and over-used trope of two opposite characters living together, I think the show managed to keep it pretty fresh (probably because it was written by a woman!). The writing was pretty witty and the twists put on some cliche situations were hilarious. It’s a different type of humour though. Rather than laugh-out-loud funny that was Community, DTtB’s humour is more subtle. Not every scene was hilarious and not every funny scene managed to elicit real laughing, but it was still really enjoyable to watch and I definitely snorted, rolled-my-eyes, and smiled throughout each episode. And I really enjoyed the side characters that supported the cast. Luther, James’s assistant, was just absolutely hilarious. And Eli, the girls’ perverted neighbour was definitely interesting and funny. And the various cameo’s by various actors were definitely comical as well. Much like James, they all played fictional versions of themselves. It was super entertaining.
However, I would definitely caution people before watching it because I think it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. I know others have not found the show as funny as I did. And even I did not find the show to be especially humorous. It was just a really nice little show to watch when bored. And while I think the show could’ve gone on for a season or two more, I think it’s also okay that the show ended after two seasons. There’s only so many things you can do with such a concept and I feel like the character’s would’ve eventually become stale or at least their pairing would’ve. Even as I was watching the show, Chloe was consistently the draw for me, even over June and James (Chloe and James together were especially great). So I wasn’t too put off by the fact it ended after two short seasons. As I mentioned earlier, I enjoyed the show for the little cute thing it was.
My rating: watch it when you want to have a quick tv-show binge session and want to watch a cute, little, fun show, and to witness the fun crazy life of a fun crazy sociopath.