Don't Trust the B— in Apartment 23
Episode 8: Paris
By: Carlos Uribe
Don't Trust the B— in Apt. 23 is about Chloe, a total crazy girl, and June, an almost crazy girl. It also has James Van Der Beek playing himself.
At the end of the last episode, June managed to get herself a job at Wall Street. She's happy about this job but she quickly finds herself in petty office drama. She quickly meets a co-worker named Fox Paris. Fox pretends to be a friend at first but she reveals herself to be June's nemesis. Fox tries her best to make June look bad in front of their boss and to turn the other co-workers against June. This all culminates in a climax where June accidentally literally stabs Fox in the back. It's a funny scene of chaos but it does get Fox to agree to leave June alone. The main plot on it's own would have worked fine because it's entertaining to see nice June have to deal with a Chloe-like character where friendship isn't on the table. What makes this main plot even better is that Chloe isn't given her own sub-plot but is involved in it. The episode kind of hints at that in the beginning when June is going through her morning routine for work but quickly finds obstacles in misplaced Chloe objects. It's as if the series is trying to state Chloe is going to get involved in her professional life. It's not a bad way to open the series as it helps to provide laughs while setting up the viewers on what's going to happen for the rest of the episode.
So how did Chloe get involved? She begins the episode by warning June that her co-worker is just trying discover weaknesses to use against her. When June finds out the truth, Chloe offers to take her down. It gets to the point where June accepts and Chloe is delighted at the chance to take someone down. That is until Chloe gets to know this co-worker and actually becomes her friend. It comes as a big surprise when Chloe reveals that she actually thinks that the co-worker is awesome. This series manages to really work when it's able to get Chloe to do something that the viewer doesn't see coming. We've seen Chloe taking people down before so it's a complete shock when she does quite the opposite. That this manages to be completely in-character helps make it really land. June's plot would have been fine without Chloe but it was made memorable and classical because of her. It also helped that this ensured that Chloe doesn't have her own plot. If she had, then the series would have been too busy rather than having the sharp focus that it had.
The episode did have a single sub-plot and it involved Mark and James. Mark asks James advice on what to write on the goodbye card that the coffee shop employees are giving June because he doesn't know what to say. Mark is eventually able to come up with the perfect message but not before some uncomfortable but funny scenes with James. The one problem I have with this sub-plot is the suggestion that James was molested by his acting coach. The show tries to shrug this off at the end when James decides that he's fine but it isn't. I'll admit that I was laughing because it was funny but at the same time I was very much disturbed by the idea that James was molested. James Van Der Beek might be playing a fictionalized version of himself but he's still portraying basically himself. The suggestion that he was molested when he was younger might have made for a good laugh but it also struggled as the line between fiction and fact isn't as strong as it would be if James was simply playing a fictional actor.
Paris is a pretty funny episode of Apartment 23 and it's funny from the beginning to end. I just have problems with the idea that James was molested simply because he's supposed to be playing himself. The main plot didn't cross such a major line and it still managed to be surprising and very funny. Apartment 23 is a show that excels when it surprises the viewer, even if that means that it occasionally crosses a line that it shouldn't. This was simply one of the times where it did.
I'm seriously questioning Mark's role on the show, especially since June didn't lose her Wall Street job at the end of the episode. I get that he loves June but I doubt any real shippers exist between them and I could care less about his relationship with her.