When Don't Trust the Bitch in Apartment 23 first came on the air in 2012, I was amazed and hopeful over the state of network television. It was irreverent, quirky and frequently unbelievable. The antics of resident bitch Chloe (Krysten Ritter)--who is obviously the type of "it" girl who needs no last name--border on absurd, yet somehow still within reason. Originally intended to air on Fox (far more notorious for airing surreally real programming—like Arrested Development), the fact that ABC ultimately chose to greenlight the project was perhaps a then-sign of the impending 2012 apocalypse.
Encapsulating the prototypical ingénue with a dream who decides to move to New York City to “make it big,” June Colburn (Dreama Walker) is the angelic foil to Chloe’s nefarious nature. No other show has poked so much fun at that odious archetype: The plucky girl who imagines she can take the big city by storm. And this is perhaps the foremost reason that Don’t Trust the B was unable to succeed. Because no one wants to believe they don’t have a chance at New York (and let’s face it, most people attempt to move here at some point. Everyone else is just stark ravingly sane).
Apart from the core theme of the show being generally too unabashed for normal audience members to bear, there is also the recurring cast of macabre and zany characters to consider. And this doesn’t just include James Van Der Beek playing himself. For instance, June and Chloe’s neighbor, Eli Webber (Michael Blaiklock), a peeping tom who constantly peers into their kitchen window to deliver unsettling commentary, uses his connections as a health inspector to get free food in exchange for favorable restaurant gradings. Dyeing his hair for an hour and putting on an art show about cheeses are just some of the ways in which Eli would inevitably make the average person feel uncomfortable.
And then, of course, there’s June’s friend and love interest Mark (Eric Andre) to add to the so awkward it’s funny vibe of the show. As the manager of fictional coffee joint It’s Just Beans, Mark hires June after the cushy Wall Street job she had lined up falls through—perhaps another element of Don’t Trust the B that proved too real for those spurned by the New York job scene. His lovable idiosyncratic personality initially draws June in as a friend, though they eventually try to be something more, which leads to one of the weirdest sex scenes ever rendered on television.
Although there were times when creator Nahnnatchka Khan (who wrote three of the twenty-six episodes) guides the show toward a moralistic vein (i.e. trying to infer that Chloe is a good person “deep down”), it was always evident that Chloe was out for herself. Even when they tried to make her more sympathetic by being enamored with one man instead of several, she still had “six guys in her rotation.”
Whether or not Chloe was a mirror of the cold, callous essence of the modern human or a foretelling of the lack of humanity to come, it seems that her tongue in cheek, at times sociopathic character was too difficult to take in stride. Or maybe it's just that the experience of living in New York is too singular and bizarre for anyone to understand until they’ve survived or been steamrolled by it. Hence, identifiability issues with the show. And yet, somehow Girls and 2 Broke Girls are still on the air. The lesson? Sanitization is key to ratings.