Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Clawing Towards Friendship with Don't Trust the B* in Apartment 23

I feel I've established many times that I like my female characters complex, interesting, and at least a little deep.

Well, sometimes I don't. Sometimes I like me some cheesy fun too.

Don't Trust the B* in Apartment 23 is just that cheesy fun.

As a basic summary, and to placate those of you who, like me, mentally scream "Bitch! Just say bitch!" every time you hear the title, here's the deal: June (Dreama Walker) is a wide-eyed mid-westerner who moves to NYC for a big job, only for her job to be immediately shut down for embezzlement. Unemployed and increasingly broke, she looks for a roommate, and finds Chloe (Krysten Ritter), who seems like just the wonderful, sweet girl friend she's been looking for. June moves in, and Chloe proceeds to make her life a living hell. She steals, she lies, she proposes late night fourway action, all with the express purpose of making June move out so that Chloe can keep her rent money.

Except it doesn't work. June really does have nowhere else to go, and she's determined to make this work. So when it finally gets too much, she fights back, and sells everything Chloe owns. Chloe is shocked into considering June a player, and starts to actually show emotions other than piracy. She even introduces June to her best friend, James Van Der Beek (basically playing himself from those Funny or Die videos, it's awesome). Some other stuff happens, June's fiance visits, and Chloe realizes that he's a big fat cheater. She decides to do June a solid and tell her, but June at this point rightly doesn't trust anything Chloe says, so she has to show her instead.

That's how June walks in on Chloe screwing her fiance on her birthday cake. It's epic. Better, though, it shows that Chloe really is trying to look out for June, in her own terrible, terrible way.

Maybe what I like about this show is that, for once, Hollywood got it right. Yes, the characters are generally bad people doing awful things to each other, and true, they aren't very developed, but the show is primarily about the friendship between two women. It's a complicated, thorny friendship that is well worth more than the sum of its parts, and it's what makes the show watchable. That, and James Van Der Beek.

Hollywood has a history of not really understanding how female friendship works. Sex and the City usually serves as their benchmark, and while I know a lot of women who love that show, I've never found it remotely relevant to my life. It's always seemed a bit more like a gay man's idea of what women are, reinterpreted by women. Very fabulous and very fun, but all too much like dressup. Don't Trust the B*, on the other hand, isn't about best friends, or friends for life, or even women who like each other very much. It's about how sometimes you don't like your friends, but they're your friends anyway. You'd do anything for them, but you still want to murder them with a saw for eating your yogurt.

There are just as many kinds of female friendship as there are kinds of women, but I appreciate the way that June and Chloe manage to actually care about each other's lives, don't spend all of their time talking about boys, and while they do get into wacky adventures, their wacky adventures are generally suited perfectly to reveal flaws in their characters.

Take, for example, episode 3, "The Parent Trap", where June gets an internship and Chloe gets a foster child. June knows Chloe won't take care of the kid, because Chloe only got her as an assistant during her "busy season". June can't take care of the kid, because she's working two jobs and taking on more responsibility at both of them. Naturally everything explodes. It's a great episode because they both have issues that can only be worked out with the other's help, and neither of them is willing to admit it. It's well-written, but more importantly, it rings pretty true.

So, here's to you, silly show that I enjoy watching far too much. Carry on with your wacky ways, as Chloe slowly learns to process these things humans call "emotions" and June learns that she doesn't have to be perfect to be great.

And James, never change.

Perfection.

Don't Trust the B* in Apartment 23 is on ABC, Wednesdays at 8:30. I highly recommend.

3 comments:

  1. I've never seen this show but it sounds funny. I recently had a very conservative relative try to jab at me for putting up so many feminist things on my facebook by calling attention to a status I had about a chick flick marathon. Because feminists can only watch Iron Jawed Angels.

    I think you can find something good in everything you watch so keep defending your show! :) At least it shows complex female relationships past the BFF or the frenemy. I'll have to check it out.

    Emily
    www.accidentpronefeminist.com

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    Replies
    1. Feminists hate humor, haven't you heard?

      Though, for serious, I do kind of cry every time I watch Iron Jawed Angels.

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  2. SO glad to see someone preaching for this show. It's fascinating, and hilarious!

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