ABC’s Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23, which aired for a little over a year from 2012 – 2013, is the best show that you never watched. It’s entirely possible that you’ve never even heard of it. When it was cancelled in the middle of its second season, people who did watch the show were devastated. Why? It was funny, clever, and managed to avoid cliché pitfalls that a TV show revolving around two girls and their lives in NYC could easily fall prey to. And yet, it was cancelled. Poor little show. R.I.P.
Part of the problem was the title, to be honest. If only the name had been something different, like anything else on the planet. Really. “Apartment 23”. “Two Girls In An Apartment Being Friends and Laughing A Lot.” Literally anything is better than the name that the show ended up with.
Chloe, the main-ish main character, is a modern-day Holly Golightly – she walks the pretty thin tightrope of being slightly sociopathic but also the friend that everybody kind of dreams of having. She’s beautiful, resourceful, and conniving. When roommate June moves to NYC and into Chloe’s apartment, fresh off the plane from the midwest, we’re set up for an amusing dynamic between the two. June is Chloe’s complete opposite in every way, and obviously all sorts of silly hijinks ensue. Rounding out the main cast of characters is James Van Der Beek as himself, his loyal right-hand man/assistant/only other friend Luther, and June’s co-worker-slash-BFF Mark.
Written in a time when discussions about media representations of female sexuality are taking the stage, part of the genius of the show lies its refusal to slut-shame or prude-shame the main female characters. Although Chloe is what some people would consider to be highly sexual, there is not a single moment where her sexual choices are used to frame her in a negative way. Similarly, when June realizes that casual sex isn’t her cup of tea, no judgement is passed. Seriously, how cool is that? The series was created and written by Nahnatchka Khan, a woman of color (a rarity in the television world), which likely contributes to the show’s different take on women and sexuality. Can we have more women creating TV shows, please and thank you? Maybe ones that don’t get cancelled before they find their footing?
Okay, enough talk about the background of the show. Let’s take a look at some of the hilarious images that illustrate why Don’t Trust The B should be the next show that you binge watch on Netflix when you should be writing an essay.
To start off, the friendship between June and Chloe will remind you of you and your best friend or of a best-friend-duo that you know. It’s practically inevitable. Every June has a Chloe. Every Chloe has a June. They’re like Timon and Pumbaa, which is to say that they’re best friends in a fictional universe. Sorry, I’m not entirely sure where I was going with that comparison.
Their friendship is realistic precisely because it isn’t perfect. They disagree on things. They have fights for stupid reasons. They have different ways of signaling a need for friend-conversations.
I would totally rip out the middle of my best friend’s book to make her talk to me. It’s effective, okay? No judgment please. Thank you.
Regardless of the situation, Chloe speaks her mind 100% of the time, all the time. She says the things we wish we could but never will because our lives aren’t a TV show. Sadly, in the real world, being as blunt as Chloe has consequences. Ughhhhh. So instead, we must live vicariously through her snarky quips, of which there are plenty.
Like Chloe, I think both of these things almost on the daily. Unlike Chloe, I have to manage to stop myself from saying them out loud to strangers because of social norms. I’m betting that you’ve thought them before too. Wait just one gosh darn second…doesn’t this make you want to watch and discover what she’s saying them about? Yeah it does.
Okay, I’m just saying, but If you say that you’ve never thought this about someone, you’re a dirty liar. Not like, you’re sorry that someone isn’t dead-dead, just… “no longer in my general vicinity” dead. (Is gone a better word? I think gone might be a better word, namely because it implies life, and I’m not advocating murder here.)
If people were this honest with each other, walking across campus would be a lot shorter of a journey and we’d all have a lot less wrinkles from faking smiles at each other. But then again, we also might have a lot more black eyes and hurt feelings, so not saying “I hate you” to people you mildly dislike is probably a lot better for society overall.
I will never stop laugh-crying at this one liner by Mark that speaks to my soul.
As someone about to graduate in less than two months, let me just say…I feel you, Mark. I feel you.
I am thankful for the very existence of Luther. There’s a reason that he was promoted to a regular after the first season, and that reason is this: He is amazing. Actor Ray Ford’s comedic timing is ridiculously on point.
The ghosts have seen all our passwords? Oh my god, he’s probably right. They know that I only have 17 cents in my bank account. That’s so embarrassing.
Wait, do you think the ghosts remember my password to my old photobucket account? Because I’ve been trying to figure that out for ages and would love some help. Where’s my Ouija board?
I’m going to just put it out there that I think Luther is one of the most underrated television characters in a long time. It would have been easy for any less talented actor to keep the role two-dimensional, but Ford makes you laugh and makes you feel like you really understand Luther’s struggles. 10/10. If you really, really have to pick one reason to watch the show, let him be it.
James Van Der Beek shows up in a starring role as James Van Der Beek. Yes, that’s right, 90’s TV show enthusiasts/people in their 30’s who are definitely not reading this blog. It’s the Beek from the creek himself. He might be better known to our generation as the guy in this GIF.
I would cry too if my hair looked like that. Prepare to stare at this for a good 20 seconds.
Update: It’s been five minutes and I cannot stop staring at this GIF. The way his lip curls…the eyebrows collapsing in on each other like punctured inflatable caterpillars…this is art.
Right. Back to business. James Van Der Beek slays as an ignorant, usually-well-meaning dude who steals scenes as Chloe’s “straight gay BFF”.
The man is clearly not afraid to make fun of himself and his television history, and for that I give him massive props, because his only really memorable role was Dawson in Dawson’s Creek. His character knows this too, and spends the series trying to branch out. He’s vain, wealthy, and exceptionally clueless, but somehow he remains loveable. Every word that leaves his mouth is hilarious, and there is a glorious Dancing With The Stars storyline where he ends up getting accidentally drugged by June’s mother and embarrassing himself on national television. It is a joy to watch.
Also, speaking of June’s mother, they’re BFFs. And it’s weird and adorable. I had no opinion of him before watching this show, and now I’m a little bit in love with him. I’m going to start scribbling his last name in my notebooks like a teenager from 1998. Hmmm. Sarah Van Der Beek…fancy.
Aside from being off-the-charts amusing, this show truly has heart in it. Like a cow or a dolphin. Or a human being. Okay, it’s occurring to me now that this specific organ is really common so yeah you know what just forget I said anything.
No, I didn’t just google “do cows and dolphins have hearts?” or anything stupid like that. What makes you think that? I mean, what? Uh, let’s get back to the point.
The friendship between everyone on the show is the glue that holds it all together, and it’s these moments of vulnerability and humanity that stop Chloe from appearing simply as a one-dimensional party girl and June as a boring stick in the mud.
All of the characters have pretty noticeable personality flaws, but weirdly, it doesn’t make you dislike them at all. It actually creates a dynamic between their friend group that makes them seem really real and oddly relatable.
Shows like Friends are fun to watch because everything gets wrapped up neatly at the end, but shows like Don’t Trust The B bring something else to the table. Relationships don’t work out perfectly, trust between characters sometimes ebbs and flows (just like in real friendships!), and people actually struggle to pay rent and find jobs. Sure, you have to suspend your disbelief from time to time when watching, but overall it’s a terrific ride and worth the approximately 572 minutes it will take to finish all 26 episodes on Netflix.
I mean, why wouldn’t you? What else do you have to do? Homework? Okay, that’s a valid point. But when you’re recovering from your Friday night on Saturday morning/afternoon, take a couple of hours to trust the b in apt 23. You’ll thank me for it.