‘Don't Trust the B—' was harsh, enjoyable
Make no mistake: "Don't Trust the B---- in Apt. 23" is not one of this generation's television masterpieces. It has been mostly underappreciated and unwatched, and ABC announced its immediate cancellation in January.
The remaining eight episodes may air this summer, according to several of the show's stars' Twitter accounts. For me, this is devastating news; the storyline left the fates of these quirky, unpredictable characters up in the air. Despite my absolute hatred for the show's title, "Don't Trust the B----" was different from your average sitcoms, and its frequent harshness made it so much more enjoyable than, say, the predictable but unfortunately extremely successful "Big Bang Theory."
Season two had much to celebrate creator Nahnatchka Khan continued to maintain an intriguing dynamic between the diabolical and at times lovable Chloe (Krysten Ritter), and her sugary-sweet roommate June (Dreama Walker). James Van Der Beek, playing an exaggerated version of, well, James Van Der Beek, was hilarious in his ability to endlessly make fun of himself, and for that he will be missed. The writing was inventive and refreshing; even characters with a high potential for falling flat, such as the girls' creepy peeping-tom Eli (Michael Blaiklock), and their stalker neighbor Robin (Liza Lapira), were consistently funny and not overdone.
Highlights from the second season included the truly immoral and shamefully hilarious Thanksgiving episode, in which Chloe forces June to pretend to be handicapped so her own mother, also handicapped, will take pity on her. The results were messy and the episode owed homage to "Seinfeld," (let us never forget George Costanza's epic lie about being handicapped in order to use the handicapped bathroom at work, and his subsequent fight with a geriatric bike gang). Yet "Don't Trust the B----" pushed the envelope in such ridiculous ways that it's hard to completely ignore its inventiveness. The episode in which June accidentally stabs her coworker in the back, and not in the figurative sense, was quite awesome.
The most recent episode featured a preposterous love triangle featuring Chloe, June and Robin competing on James' fake dating game show. Nuggets of humor were sprinkled throughout, and the episode worked because at times it seemed closer to a sketch show, with Van Der Beek at the helm to ensure things got goofier. The most awesome moment of the episode was Chloe's date, which involved whiskey, an un-hardboiled egg and a rented chair. The humor on the show was random, yet because of such unconventionality the show's seemingly stupid premise (driven Midwestern girl moves in with psychotic New York party girl) just worked.
I won't say the show pushed television sitcom boundaries, because it didn't really. There were still plenty of predictable comic tropes, namely in the many love triangles that ensued. Yet every time I thought the writers had really dried up Chloe's I'm-a-monster-or-am-I shtick, they came through and delivered some plot twist that would make the "Mission Impossible" franchise jealous. In sum, the show can be appreciated for daring to push comedy norms not to make a statement, but simply for the sake of entertainment.
In canceling the show, ABC relegated Chloe, June, Van Der Beek and window pervert Eli to the sink-or-swim world of Netflix or boxed DVD sets, and, worst of all, we'll never settle the debate of whether Chloe truly is part monster, part teddy bear or part perpetually drunk. We won't know whether June will buck up, get used to city life and get it together with Mark, who's obviously in love with her. Worse still, I realize, is that Van Der Beek's self-ridicule will have to continue elsewhere, and it probably won't be as funny. True, Ritter reportedly landed the lead role in Will Ferrell and Adam McKay's upcoming pilot "Assistance," but it won't bring "Don't Trust the B----" back from the dead.