Chloe, the titular b—- in Apt. 23, is terrible, horrible, no good, very bad news. She finds roommates, steals their money, then acts so awful that they move out. She has no qualms about getting an 11-year-old boy drunk or selling illegal Chinese energy tablets on the black market. She’ll screw your fiance on your birthday cake to prove a point. She’s best friends with James Van Der Beek.
ABC is hoping that despite all this, viewers will love Chloe — or at least keep tuning in to see what appalling thing she does next. But can we really be expected to root for, or even tolerate, a character who has basically no redeeming qualities?
Don’t get me wrong: I think that Don’t Trust the B—- in Apt. 23 has a lot going for it. As the show’s pilot proved, its reference-filled dialogue is witty and its cast — especially Krysten Ritter as Chloe — is incredibly appealing and committed. More importantly, Apt. 23 pulls no punches; its creative team realizes that not everyone will be into a sitcom that’s twisted and dark, but they don’t bother trying to win over those who like their humor with less bite.
In theory, I admire their refusal to compromise. But even so, I’m not sure if Apt. 23‘s tendency to go for the jugular will be sustainable. Every time Chloe says or does something that could possibly be construed as nice, she immediately balances it out with something terrible. Take, for example, the Beek from the Creek’s story about his BFF throwing him a lavish birthday party, then leaving him to be incarcerated in a Vietnamese prison. Um… hilarious?
Eventually, watching Chloe scam someone or ruin a life for the zillionth time will feel both tiresome and unpleasant. Apt. 23 can avoid that pitfall by turning her into a person rather than sociopathy personified. Krysten Ritter deserves the chance to play a character rather than a caricature — and I also think that deepening Chloe would make the entire show feel richer and less shallow.
What do you think, PopWatchers — did you enjoy Apt. 23? Does Chloe’s strident heartlessness bother you? What, more broadly, does the show get right — and where is there room for improvement? (I also have some issues with wacky supporting characters like Pervy Eli and Pervy Robin — but that’s a topic for another post.)