The Bottom Line
- Stars Krysten Ritter, Dreama Walker, James Van Der Beek, Liza Lapira, Michael Blaiklock, Eric André
- Created by Nahnatchka Khan
- Airs Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m. EST starting April 11, 2012, on ABC
The title phrase comes courtesy of Robin (Liza Lapira), who lives down the hall from Chloe (Ritter) and was once her roommate. Robin warns June (Walker), a naïve Midwesterner who’s just moved to New York and is looking for an apartment, not to trust Chloe, and indeed Chloe tries to take advantage of June’s trusting nature. But by halfway through the first episode, after June has proved surprisingly feisty and turned the tables on Chloe, the two are already on their way to becoming friends, with Chloe giving up her plan of scaring June off and taking her security deposit.
The relationship that Chloe and June settle into is no more antagonistic than your average sitcom friendship, with the two butting heads over various issues but ultimately caring about each other and trying to do what’s best. Chloe is portrayed early in the first episode as some sort of cold-hearted con artist, but her schemes to get June to move out of their apartment are pretty tame, and fizzle out quickly. The show spends a lot of time building up its characters and situations as shocking and taboo, only to have them turn out to be completely conventional, just with a slight edge.
The truth is that Ritter and Walker do a great job of playing friends who like to mess with each other, and they have just as much chemistry as Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs do on 2 Broke Girls. The humor on Apartment 23 is much less strained and shrill than on 2 Broke Girls, but it’s also often pretty feeble. The biggest running gag other than Chloe’s lack of morals is that her best friend is actor James Van Der Beek (of Dawson’s Creek fame), playing himself. Van Der Beek is game to make fun of his C-list status, but having a low-level celebrity gently mock their own image is a pretty tired sitcom gag at this point. The part would have been just as effective if they had given Van Der Beek’s character a fictional name and work history.
That means that it is effective at times, as is Ritter and Walker’s dynamic, as are the one-note supporting characters, like Lapira’s creepy stalker Robin and Michael Blaiklock’s pervy neighbor Eli, who’s seen almost exclusively from the waist up, like a weird version of Wilson from Home Improvement with his groin covered instead of his face. They provide a couple of okay jokes per episode, and Chloe and June and James are fun to hang out with, but Apartment 23 is generic and timid when it should be bold and creative.