Ten years ago today, Don’t Trust the B— in Apartment 23 debuted on television, and it was unfortunately doomed to have a short run. Nonetheless, the sitcom made an indelible impression on loyal viewers, and has gathered something close to a cult status in the years following its cancellation.
Don’t Trust the B— in Apartment 23 follows June Colburn (Dreama Walker), a business graduate from Indiana who moves to New York for a Wall Street job that suddenly doesn’t exist thanks to the company’s illegal activities. Instead, she starts working as a barista alongside fellow ex-finance worker Mark (Eric Andre) and moves in with Chloe (Krysten Ritter), an unscrupulous and incredibly fun scam artist. Along the way, June meets Chloe’s best friend James Van Der Beek (playing a fictionalized version of himself), Chloe’s stalker and ex-roommate Robin (Liza Lapira), and Eli (Michael Blaiklock), the pervert neighbor and local health inspector.
A few factors contributed to the show’s downfall. Episodes were aired out of order, which made the show difficult to follow. Then there’s the title, which is overly long and feels a little childish with the censored “bitch.” The first episode includes Chloe getting a teenager drunk and the network is worried about the word “bitch” in the title? Weird, but okay.
For the casual viewer flipping between channels a decade ago, Don’t Trust the B was also not marketed particularly well. It was sold as a show about “two single gals living in New York,” which is accurate, but also a pretty boring and incomplete summary. The sitcom proved much more bizarre and entertaining than that tired description promises, but you can’t blame a pop culture consumer in 2012 for not knowing any better.
Since the show’s untimely demise, creator Nahnatchka Khan has gone on to have a prolific career, creating series like Fresh Off the Boat and Young Rock, as well as directing the Ali Wong vehicle Always Be My Maybe. Ritter, of course, went on to star in Jessica Jones and The Defenders. Walker played Connie Stevens in Once Upon A Time in Hollywood, but her potential seems to have been slept on since Don’t Trust the B went off air. Andre has paved his own way as a surreal comic genius, making the sitcom a funny normie time capsule for him (even though he gets plenty of room to be his own strange self on the show, nothing reaches the utter absurdity of The Eric Andre Show).
Without further ado, here’s every episode of Don’t Trust the B, ranked from worst to best:
This episode’s main plotline lands it in last place. It sucked then, and it sucks now. June tries to keep Chloe blackout drunk so she’ll keep hooking up with a man who recently sustained serious brain damage (and who happens to be the son of June’s soon-to-be boss). It’s just a gross and exploitative storyline all around. Thankfully, there’s some relief in the form of JVDB’s B-plot, in which he schemes with June’s wily mother Connie (Eve Gordon) in order to get himself the best Dancing with the Stars partner possible. The JVDB/Connie friendship is one of the most unexpectedly lovely parts of the show.
Plenty of sitcoms don’t know what to do when the will-they-or-won’t-they couple gets together. While Mark and June’s chemistry wasn’t a central pull of Don’t Trust the B, the writers had been stringing their potential romance along for a while, and “Using People…” feels like such a let down in response. Mark and June finally confess their feelings for each other and sleep together, but it turns out they’re not sexually compatible. While that is very much a thing that happens in real life, it feels like a cop out here.
The series finale of Don’t Trust the B is a bit of a mess. Chloe goes after the “original bitch” in apartment 23, Trish (Sarah Wright, aka Millicent Gergich on Parks and Rec), but most of the actual action ends up taking place in Chloe’s dream. The writers go all-out strange here—Charo’s appearance as Chloe’s dream guide is a definite highlight—but the zaniness ends up undercutting the emotional conflict at the heart of the episode (June feeling like Chloe doesn’t let her in emotionally). The episode is better than I remember, though, especially Chloe’s line when she bursts in to catch a would-be intruder: “No cops. Never cops. Just a tranq gun.”
While it’s interesting to learn a bit more about Chloe’s upbringing—her childhood friend Teddy (Michael Stahl-David) from Camp C.U.T.S. (Callous Unemotional Trait Survivors) comes to town—the main plotline gets derailed by the reappearance of Benjamin (Ben Lawson), the director who’s supposed to be the male equivalent of Chloe and thus her love interest. I never quite bought it, though. Benjamin simply isn’t funny enough; he comes across as smarmy more than anything else. All the same, I do love Chloe’s derisive comments to June when the latter runs out of underwear: “June, you deserve that urinary tract infection that bathing suit’s giving you.”
Don’t Trust the B always thrived in the little moments: the throwaway lines, the featured extras who really go for it, the strange tangents Chloe goes off on. “The Scarlet Neighbor…” is full of those unexpected gems, from the stranger on the street who says he’ll kick June in the “clam,” to the building resident crying out in anguish that the tenants’ trip to Atlanta was canceled, to June desperately singing “Carol of the Bells” at her indifferent neighbors.
June loves Halloween, JVDB hates it. June loves rom-coms, Chloe hates them. JVDB and Chloe are each forced to face their fears, with the former uncovering some dark memories from his past (honestly handled a little lightly considering the subject matter). This episode is the first appearance of Benjamin, who Chloe has decided to play a Halloween trick on—but little does she know he’s more than aware of her machinations. There are some decent examinations of rom-com tropes here—June is sidelined as the “best friend” character and forced together with Benjamin’s uncouth pal Zonk (John Gemberling, best known as Matt Bevers in Broad City)—but Chloe thrives as an agent of chaos, not one half of a couple.
The James/Chloe dynamic is a strange one, so it makes sense to have an episode examining it. Here, the pair take some time apart, and the so-called dire consequences include JVDB gaining weight and Chloe working at a cell phone store (and wearing “orthopedics, solid black, dead as night,” as per Luther). The Chloe part is genuinely funny as she yells at customers and declares that “We own your ass!” Fatphobia, though? Not so much.
Chloe gives June a “D” for her first year in New York, making the Hoosier reevaluate her priorities, especially her lack of a dating life. Unfortunately, the guy she ends up seeing, Will (Nicholas D’Agosto, who you may recognize from Fired Up), works for Chloe, which drives a wedge between them. Bonus points to this episode for featuring Donnie Jarvis (Joel Spence), JVDB’s very LA agent, and some June/Luther time, which is always welcome.
Taking a show outside of its typical setting is always a risk, but one that mostly works for “A Weekend in the Hamptons…” (in part because the Hamptons is always treated as a rich person’s extension of NYC in media). After the disaster of his DWTS premiere, JVDB takes the crew out to the Hamptons to get away from it all. It’s always great to have an episode featuring Robin and Luther, but the best moments come from June trying to soak in the Hamptons in the most WASPy ways possible.
Yes, it’s another Benjamin episode, but this one’s redeemed by some interesting directing choices—namely the montages of bathrooms set to “I Love It” by Icona Pop. Chloe discovers that Benjamin has a dating rotation, just like her (but it’s called a “cycle” instead because he’s Australian). Suddenly, though, she finds herself jealous. Episode highlights: James telling Eli (in the window across the way, where else?) to take the foil out of his hair and June’s encounter with her middle school boyfriend.
June finds herself a nemesis at work: Paris Fox (Angelique Cabral), purveyor of leather headbands and schemer extraordinaire. Cabral is fantastic as the two-faced Paris, who obviously clicks with Chloe upon their meeting. This episode also has one of the best needle drops, going out on “Seven One Eight” by FannyPack.
Honestly, as much as I love June and her work antics, her Midwestern friends Crissy and Rob steal the show here. Crissy’s pregnancy throws James, who thinks that he may be the father (and, like any normal person would, he decides to listen to “Danger Zone” by Kenny Loggins and sit on a motorcycle to deal with his feelings). The episode’s high point has to be Crissy deferring to Rob when it comes to recounting her hookup with James.
Finally, the big day arrives and JVDB is making his debut on DWTS. He enlists help from June’s mom Connie (“Is that my favorite MILTTT? Mother I like to talk to?”), who accidentally ends up sabotaging him at the premiere. Meanwhile, June has become disgusted by Chloe’s myriad lies (including starring in Three Men and A Baby and having “several framed photographs of me curled up in Ted Danson’s wig”) because she is an “honest Colburn.” Soon, though, she realizes that her mom’s been lying to her for years (a montage which is particularly hilarious, Gordon is so underrated), and June ends up going a bit off the rails. All plot aside, JVDB gets to shine during the tag, when they show his full DWTS dance routine.
June tries to teach Chloe how to be friendly, a lesson which Chloe of course exploits for her own devious ends. She’s trying to butter up Luther so she can find where he’s hidden JVDB, who’s hiding out before his DWTS premiere. Here we see yet again how Ray Ford nails line deliveries as Luther, hissing “Be gone, succubus!” at Chloe, or, in a sweeter moment, cooing, “That is a fragile plum.”
The best parts of this episode come from Chloe’s genuine pride in June as the latter decides to dip a toe into the casual sex pool. From Chloe walking in on June masturbating in the tub (“This must be how moms feel on the first day of kindergarten!”) to the fake number she gives June for her new hook-up (“It’s Kelly Osbourne’s and it’s never not funny.”), Chloe gets loads of great one-liners despite it being a June-centric episode. And no shade to June—horny June is hilarious, and the needle drop every time she admires Soy Latte Guy’s abs still makes me laugh. The B-plot involving Chloe and JVB’s sex tape is funny in its own right, especially when James calls in June’s mother as a consultant.
For years, Chloe’s been faking letters to JVDB pretending to be the Dawson’s Creek cast begging for a reunion, and for years the ego high he’s had after supposedly turning them down means James treats Chloe to whatever she wants. June’s not in on the grift, though, making an impassioned slide show to convince James to do the reunion. The Season 2 opener includes some great cameos, including a frightened Frankie Muniz, peeved Busy Philipps, and, best of all, a very intense Mark-Paul Gosselaar, all playing fictionalized versions of themselves.
Plenty of pilots are hard to return to—think the U.S. Office and Parks and Rec—but Don’t Trust the B is one of those rare shows that knew what it was from the beginning. It has just the right amount of absurdity sprinkled in to let you know this isn’t just another “gals in the big city” show, while taking the time to introduce the characters in a way that feels lucid and well-paced.
“Parent Trap…” zeroes in on Chloe’s lack of responsibility, whether she’s meant to take care of a plant, a goldfish, or a diabetic neighbor. During her “busy season,” though, Chloe decides to foster a kid who can work as her assistant. Naturally, June picks up the pieces as she attempts to also take on extra duties as the coffee shop and starts an unpaid internship (Saturday Night Live alum Nora Dunn makes a great cameo as her overly efficient boss). JVB’s side story is particularly hilarious, as he prepares for a Freaky Friday-type role opposite Kiernan Shipke.
Don’t Trust the B’s one Thanksgiving episode works well because it doesn’t try too hard to sell viewers on family, found or otherwise—till the end, that is. That’s the Chloe bait-and-switch, making you think she’s all about the grift before you discover she’s actually more Robin Hood than Bernie Madoff.
“Dating Games…” pulls off the task of being thoroughly entertaining while also moving the plot forward, the latter of which is not always a priority on the show (and that’s okay). Chloe and June vie for the same guy through a dating game hosted by JVDB, but in the process June learns about Mark’s true feelings for her. The high point of the episode comes when Chloe is on a picnic date with the guy in question, Daniel, and only brings whiskey and a raw egg.
We get a glimpse of Chloe’s vulnerable side in this episode, as she worries about being forgotten once she’s no longer New York’s It Girl, but that doesn’t mean “Shitagi Nashi…” is short on laughs. We get a David Krumholtz cameo and an instantly classic line from Chloe when she takes off her underwear and decides to be a tall slut with no panties again: “I can see!”
How much does June love Chloe? Apparently enough to help her cover up a murder. We get to see some genuine growth as the roommates become closer. We can’t forget some of the hilarious side players, though, particularly June’s pilates friend Carmen, who keeps quoting La Bamba.
June’s newfound sense of freedom after breaking up with her fiance is quickly dampened when she sees a cute baby and is reminded of her oh-so-important life plan. Chloe sets June up with her father (not that June knows who Scott is to Chloe), leading to June’s repeated, disgusted refrain: “I touched it through bike shorts!” Between the Lionel Richie song cues and June’s prudishness (“We just dry rubbed for hours”), this is her episode to shine.
Chloe helps June get her groove back, but is threatened by June’s sudden confidence and close relationship with JVDB. Emotional stakes aside, this episode is packed with amazing one-liners, especially from Eli, who ends up playing the wedding that June attends with James (“I’m layered, June, like an onion. A sexy, sexy onion. Do you like the word bulbous?”). The bride and groom (the aforementioned Crissy and Rob) also get their moments in the sun. JVDB might be Crissy’s freebie, but Rob is more into Peri Gilpin of Frasier fame (“She’s so dry.”). Add June doing her best Alanis Morrisette impression, and you’ve got a winning episode.
I’ve said it already, but it bears repeating: horny June is hilarious. She goes full horndog as People magazine prepares to unveil their sexiest man alive, an event she follows religiously with her mother. However, Chloe steals the show when she storms into People as their supposed managing editor and draws a wang on the whiteboard to confuse everyone into submission.
There’s a moment early on in this episode that made me realize I love this show. June’s walking down the street, her internal monologue bemoaning her lack of funds. She thinks a rich woman is offering her crab cakes, but the lady instead gives the forkful to her dog. Suddenly, we’re in the rich woman’s internal monologue, who’s speaking over noir-ready jazz: “Maybe I was bored, maybe I was lashing out at Jeffrey. Either way, it was something to do.” This kind of out-of-the-box choice that will always make me return to Don’t Trust the B, whether in ten years or twenty.
Clare Martin is a cemetery enthusiast and Paste’s assistant comedy editor. Go harass her on Twitter @theclaremartin.