“Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23” (8:30 p.m. Central Wednesdays on ABC) — which unfortunately really is titled that way, with the “B—-” pronounced “Bee” so as not to offend all the kiddies who are tuning into to programs aimed at adults, even though several of the characters use the actual word — is pretty respectable as far as modern sitcoms go.
I adored the effortlessly talented and beautiful Krysten Ritter in “Veronica Mars” and “Gilmore Girls” and I really wish she’d star in an hourlong drama where we can find out how much range she has. But “Apt. 23” is what I’m getting instead, and I have to admit that it’s fast-paced, witty, sexy (and laugh-track-free!) fun, even if it is disposable.
Ritter plays the title character, Chloe, who is likeable as far as b—–s go. This is because she is so self-centered and pragmatic that she’s not actually mean; it’s more like she figured out how the game is played in New York, and she plays it well. She doesn’t do anything out of vindictiveness toward people, nor is she hurt when people get revenge on her (rather, she admires them for it). When Chloe scams money from her new roommate, Midwestern girl June (Dreama Walker), it’s solely so she can buy a new purse; she doesn’t even seem to be aware that it affects June.
But, after Chloe has sex with June’s fiancée — in order to show June that he’s a cheater — June says “That’s the nicest thing anyone’s ever done for me” and they become friends. Rather, June is as close of a female friend as Chloe is capable of having — she finds girls to be “mean.”
And that brings us to Chloe’s best bud, and a big reason why “Apt. 23” is buzzworthy: Her bestie is James Van Der Beek, played by James Van Der Beek. In a more drawn-out riff on what Neil Patrick Harris did in “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle,” the former “Dawson’s Creek” star plays himself as someone exasperated with his one-note fame even as he cashes in on it. This is a whole new level of pop-culture referencing and meta-ness (and this will be pushed further when Van Der Beek becomes a “Dancing With the Stars” contestant in upcoming episodes). As a “Creek” fan, I think it’s awesome that Van Der Beek could possibly have a second memorable role to his credit, just as Joshua Jackson has with “Fringe.”
So far, the off-kilter mix of characters works. Chloe and James Van Der Beek are admirably crass — Chloe parading around the apartment naked, James Van Der Beek teaching an acting class solely to stick it to James Franco — and in a complete 180 from those two, June is likeable for her innocence.
Meanwhile, keeping viewers even more off-balance are the girl in Apt. 21 who wants revenge on/acceptance from Chloe — she copies her wardrobe and buys Chloe’s furniture from June — and the “pervert” (June’s word, although Chloe doesn’t contradict her) in the window of the next building. When he chats with the Apt. 23 gals, it’s like he’s in the room with them, no raised voice is needed; that’s either a parody of Big Apple living conditions or just another fine bit of randomness.
I worry about this show’s future when a random guy briefly interrupts a scene asking for a high five. But generally, the first couple episodes (episode two, which airs next week, can be sneak-previewed on Hulu) have the right vibe: Cleverly weird, rather than unappealingly weird.