Shortly after this new show was announced last spring during May upfronts, we were able to see the pilot in advance and it cracked us up. It was one of our favorite sitcoms of the 2011-12 lineup and we've been impatiently waiting for it to air ever since. And now, almost a whole year later, it's finally on ABC and, thankfully, it's still as funny to us as when we first saw it -- mostly because of the power of the Beek. Playing an over-the-top version of himself, James Van Der Beek elevates this show from being the next New Girl or a 2 Broke Girls clone to give it a place in the comedy ranks that's uniquely its own.
The premise is pretty simple: wide-eyed optimist June (Dreama Walker) moves to New York for a job, quickly loses said job due to a financial scandal and moves in with a roommate (Chloe, played by Krysten Ritter) who lies, cheats and steals from her and even turns her into a drug trafficker. That's just part of Chloe's process of weeding out weak-willed mid-westerners from NYC and that makes her the titular bitch in apartment 23. (We've seen a handful of upcoming episodes, and while Chloe remains a sociopath, she and June develop quite a frenemy relationship that has almost genuinely sweet moments.) Oh, and Chloe knows James Van Der Beek quite well. They are BFF and hang out all of the time, mostly to go to parties for vodka launches. The show's premise sounds bizarre, but here's why it works:
As the titular Bitch, her deadpan delivery is perfectly suited to this role and we're hooked on her playing an irreverent character who just owns her bad behavior. Example: "Hey, you know what's fun? Alcohol!" she says as she gets an 11-year-old drunk to pump him for information.
The Smart, Racy Dialogue
The banter comes fast and furious, which we love. Especially when there are one-liners that crack us up like: "You can love grandma's Ottoman and still want to make money on pills," regarding drug trafficking; "We weren't really compatible... genitally," in reference to why Chloe and James split up; "Don't be a blond dude in a Vietnamese jail, June. That's the real life lesson here," says James on some rougher times.
The Crazy Girl in Apt. 21
There's Robin, the girl down the hall from Chloe, who tries to warn June away. Sure, it's because Chloe may murder someone in their sleep, but it's also because Robin is obsessed with Chloe. And that's creepily delightful in a stalkery sort of way.
The Found Footage
Best part of the episode? Probably the footage of James Van Der Beek's Vietnamese commercial for some kind of energy drink. "Khap-Pao! Dawson is the Moon!" Makes no sense, which makes it great. This moment was followed closely by the rap video that Chloe once made: "I got champagne sprayed in my ass." We'd definitely love more of the Beek doing things to make money (and judging by what we've seen, he'll really do anything).
We thought that his little farm girl would be all sweet, but she actually has some strength hidden underneath that innocent demeanor. And that's refreshing because the nice girl act would get old. Quickly.
Mark at the Coffee Shop
Times are tough and June's almost co-worker at a big brokerage firm is now her manager at the coffee shop. And he's pretty enterprising at that. Can't let there be a gap in the resume.
We may be sick of Ted on How I Met Your Mother narrating his life, or Meredith Grey lecturing us about lessons learned, but we're totally cool with June giving us a sneak peek of some random predicament that she's gotten into because of her roommate, and then rewinding back to show us how all the action unfolded.
Eli the Pantless Perv
He lives next door and gets off on watching June sweat and Chloe walk around naked. It's disturbing... and intriguing. Not sure what that says about us, though.
All the Dawson Fodder
Van Der Beek plays Paula Cole to get girls in bed and works his flannel shirt like no one's business. He's clearly not afraid to poke fun of his famous alter ego on this show, which makes us deliriously happy. There's also a little Varsity Blues humor thrown in, and you can never get enough of that. Can there be an episode where he just cries the entire time? We'd watch the hell out of that for 30 minutes.
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