Apt 23
Credit: Kelsey McNeal/ABC

Any actor who has appeared on a successful, well-loved ensemble show has one question that haunts him forever after the series finale: “When are you guys going to get together for a reunion?” The season 2 premiere of Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23 takes that question head-on.

In the kick-off to the show’s sophomore season, which airs tonight, James Van Der Beek, played by James Van Der Beek, debates whether or not to pursue a reunion show for the cast of the turn-of-the-millennium teen drama that made him a star, Dawson’s Creek. SPOILER ALERT for those of you who don’t want to know any details about who from the Dawson’s bunch shows up. But for everyone who wants a peek into the production of this meta, reunion-within-a-reunion episode, read on.

The one cast member from Dawson’s Creek who joins Van Der Beek in this episode is Busy Philipps. Casting Philipps in the episode was a no-brainer from a logistical point of view – she shoots Cougar Town in Los Angeles, while other Dawson’s alums are currently working in Vancouver and New York – and Apartment 23 creator Nahnatchka Khan also said “we were thrilled Busy was available.” Dawson’s fans may be quick to point out that Philipps came aboard the show only for the last two years of its six-season run, but don’t worry – that fact (and plenty more in-jokes about the WB show) gets worked into the humor of this episode.

To fit into the over-the-top comedy of Apartment 23, Philipps played a heightened version of herself in the guest role, just as Van Der Beek does with his character, a “completely narcissistic but kind of sweet” fictionalized version of the real James Van Der Beek, as the actor described. It’s a role that Philipps admitted was “uncomfortable” to play.

“It’s harder for me [than it is for Van Der Beek]. He’s used to it now. He’s done it for a year. I feel like I don’t know how to do it,” Philipps said.

But Van Der Beek assured us that his co-star was “doing a killer job,” and Khan said Philipps “totally got it,” when they first talked after she had read the script.

Shooting her scene with Van Der Beek gave Philipps a major sense of déjà vu. She recalled that the weather in North Carolina when she shot her first scene with Van Der Beek was sweltering just like it was in Los Angeles for the Apartment 23 shoot this August, and her co-star was wearing a blue shirt on both sets.

“So I was having a moment when we got on set, and it took me right back to North Carolina,” Philipps said.

Though the episode takes plenty of time to mention and poke fun at the rest of the Dawson’s Creek crew, neither Katie Holmes nor Joshua Jackson nor Michelle Williams make an appearance. (As for why they don’t show up, you’ll have to watch tonight’s episode to find that out.) But should the actors ever sign on for a guest role on the show, the Apartment 23 bunch are ready with ideas of what the actors’ heightened selves would be like.

“Katie’s got a really great sense of humor. The saucier side of her personality would mesh well with the show,” Van Der Beek said. “And Josh would be a really great straight man. He’s such a personality, but he could also just play it really straight.”

Khan is fascinated by the idea that the Dawson’s stars have some sort of animosity for James, so she imagined that “it would be funny that they show [up at a reunion] just ’cause they think something bad’s happened to him. Katie Holmes shows up in a red dress with champagne to celebrate his misery or whatever. ‘Ding Dong the Beek is dead!’”

As for a real, complete, non-poking-fun-at-themselves Dawson’s Creek reunion, Philipps has a clear opinion about what that would look like.

“My ideal reunion is behind closed doors with no f—ing paparazzi and nobody eavesdropping on our conversations,” she said. “And we just get four bottles of wine and we’re all locked in a room—”

“Only four?” Van Der Beek interjected.

“We’re grown-ups now, James!” Philipps playfully shot back. “OK, maybe fourteen.”

The season 2 premiere of Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23 airs on ABC Tuesday, Oct. 23 at 9:30 p.m.

Follow Emily on Twitter: @EmilyNRome

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