It's a bold choice to use the “B-word” in the title of a situation comedy, but I couldn't think of a more appropriate title for this ABC series. Chloe, the main character, lives up to the insult and is completely untrustworthy. But this is also what makes her one of the most fun and funniest female characters on primetime.

It's a bold choice to use the “B-word” in the title of a situation comedy, but I couldn't think of a more appropriate title for this ABC series. Chloe, the main character, lives up to the insult and is completely untrustworthy. But this is also what makes her one of the most fun and funniest female characters on primetime. 


Chloe (Krysten Ritter) is roommates with June (Dreama Walker), a smart, kind, go-getter type of girl who gets her dream job in New York. She shows up for her first day at the office to find that the office is going under thanks to a corrupt boss. No job means no company apartment, so June is forced to look for a place to share. Chloe's place is perfect and so is Chloe until she starts to make June's life miserable. Chloe's way of paying for her apartment is to bring in roommates, collect their share of the rent and then drive them away. But June is feisty and desperate and while she doesn't quite beat Chloe at her own game, she gives her enough of a challenge to gain her respect. So begins an unusual and hilarious female friendship. 


June quickly discovers that Chloe is the kind of roommate who will steal your boyfriend, eat all your food, sell your clothes and throw out your mail. Her idea of celebrating Thanksgiving is to call all the married men she sleeps with just to make them nervous. On Halloween, she chooses one person at her friend's annual party, finds out their biggest fear and spends the entire year to make sure it comes true. On a recent episode, she tells a lie so that June has to pretend she is in a wheelchair. Are you laughing yet? Yes, all these scenarios seem like anti-comedy but in Ritter's hands, they come across as genuinely funny. Smart writing helps but it is Ritter's ability to play Chloe with a playful wickedness that really makes the show work. She looks like a Japanese Anime character but is more like the Mad Hatter (with a good dose of The Queen of Hearts) to June's Alice in Wonderland. 


As good as Ritter is at making Chloe awful and likeable at the same time, the show also owes much to the performance of James Van Der Beek, who plays Chloe's best friend and a narcissistic version of himself. The James on this show lives off the fame from his days as a heartthrob on “Dawson's Creek” and sends up publicity loving celebrities by being one. One storyline had him volunteering at a soup kitchen on Thanksgiving and leaving immediately after a celebrity magazine snaps his photo. After he is forced to return and finish his shift, he enthusiastically tells Chloe and June that the best part was he lost 2 pounds from the stress of it all and could now kick off the holiday season with a weight deficit. 


“Don't Trust the B--” is edgy comedy with jokes that make you feel a little bad for laughing but then not really. Chloe does mean things at the expense of her friends but she also cares about them. Making June pretend she can't walk was Chloe's plan to get money from her parents so June could afford to fly home and spend Christmas with her family. It's twisted but sweet, just like Chloe. 


“Don’t Trust the B—in Apt 23” is on Sunday at 10:30 p.m. EDT on ABC.


 


Melissa Crawley is the author of “Mr. Sorkin Goes to Washington: Shaping the President on Television's 'The West Wing.’” She has a PhD in media studies and is a member of the Television Critics Association. To comment on Stay Tuned, email her at staytuned@outlook.com or follow her on Twitter at @MelissaCrawley.