On April 11, ABC is premiering its newest midseason replacement sitcom Don't Trust The B--- In Apartment 23, but you can already watch the pilot via Hulu. Go ahead, watch it!
Now let's discuss. Don't worry; I'll still keep this spoiler-free for those of you who don't have time to watch a sitcom based solely on my whims. Not that there are really any spoilers to spoil. It's a fairly standard sitcom pilot, with the small but significant exception that it made me laugh.
Dreama Walker plays June, a wide-eyed New York newbie who moves in with Krysten Ritter's Chloe. Chloe's the eponymous B---. And let's get this out of the way, shall we: yes, the title sucks. The original title was meant to be Don't Trust The Bitch In Apartment 23 for Fox, before Fox passed on the show, and then it became the more generic Apartment 23 for ABC before the current unwieldy handle. Look, it's fine, you don't want to scare away middle America by using the word "bitch" in your title. I get it. But couldn't they just call it Don't Trust The B In Apartment 23? It's the unnecessary hyphens I find so aesthetically displeasing.
Anyway, Chloe's a bitch, but mostly in that hard-assed New Yorker way. As her friend James Van Der Beek describes her, "She has the morals of a pirate." But she's a loyal friend and kind of a blast. I love Krysten Ritter. I've adored her since she played dopey Gia on Veronica Mars, and I keep waiting for her to break out in a huge way. She's got such a unique look and presentation, and her comedy chops are for real.
Oh yeah, and I said her friend James Van Der Beek. He plays himself on the show, an insouciant stud who exploits his Dawson's Creek cachet to sleep with women my age who inexplicably preferred Dawson to Pacey in the '90s. He busts out the flannel and the Paula Cole to make the kill. He's hilarious.
Walker's really great as June, too. What's interesting about the combination of her and Ritter is that the story seems timeworn - the guileless country mouse and the irascible city mouse moving in together - but neither character is what they seem at first. June's actually sort of a bad-ass for all of her unsophisticated enthusiasm, and Chloe warms up to her with a quickness. I like that neither of these women is as easily identifiable as they first appear, and I like that they seem to form a strong friendship by the end of the pilot. The ensemble is rounded out by June's boss Mark, played to awkwardly perky perfection by Eric André, and Chloe's former roommate Robin, who offers June the warning of the title. Robin's played by Liza Lapira in this really hyper, weird way that I love. Robin's terrified of Chloe, furious with her and somewhat obsessed with her. I'm definitely into that dynamic.
Apartment 23 has something in common with the show I wrote about in last week's Borders Line, Girls. Girls makes overt references in the pilot to at least one of the characters moving to New York City, hoping to live the life represented in Sex and the City, and in the pilot of Apartment 23, June mentions twice that she wants her life to be like Friends now that she's in the big city. I love both (early) Sex and the City and (early) Friends, and I can't blame these shows for wanting to establish themselves on similar playing fields.
Now, Girls is decidedly superior to Apartment 23, but I don't think it's helpful or necessary to compare the two. Apartment 23 is a sitcom on a major network, and that may cause many of you to dismiss it without giving it a chance, but don't. I'd like to believe good television can happen anywhere, and the fact is, Apartment 23 is a strong pilot. Strong pilots are rare. It's got funny women playing well-rounded characters, and that's rare too. And it even has something Girls doesn't have, which is a multi-cultural cast that is more appropriately indicative of the landscape of one of the world's largest cities. So give the pilot a shot. It's free! If you hate it, all you lose is half an hour of your life.