Don't Trust the B— in Apartment 23
Episode 11: Dating Games
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.
June likes a guy but she gets annoyed when Chloe asks him out. This is because June has a rule where she can't be with anyone that has slept with Chloe. If Chloe goes on a date with him, then this guy will no longer meet her standards. The solution to this is James Van Der Beek decides that he'll test out a reality show idea that he had on the two. They will both compete on a fake dating show where the winner gets the guy. June agrees to do it because the games rules stipulate that there will be no sex until the fifth date and Chloe agrees because she can't help but be attracted to a guy that someone else likes. This allows the show to create an episode that mocks the entire dating game genre while at the same time allowing for conflict between the characters and a few surprise revelations. It's a basic idea that works really well because James has already been presented as ridiculously wealthy and cartoonish enough that he would find a way to make this fake dating show work. So let's take this dating show step by step.
It's pretty obvious that this is an episode is going to deal with dating games when Mark and June begin the episode watching a fake Bachelor show. The difference being that instead of roses, the girl hands out a golden spring. It's a bit of a surprise that they didn't actually go with the Bachelor considering it would have been great cross-promotion. It's not like the series shied away from having a whole Dancing with the Stars plot so it's not like it would feel like the network was taking advantage of this low-rated comedy. It wouldn't have felt forced and it might have even convinced a few people to tune in considering how excited June gets for these kind of shows. The fake dating show not only helps to foreshadow what this episode is really about but it also helps to give a nice bookend to the episode when June goes over to Mark's place in order to watch the finale. The actual show-within-a-show is a great satire of the genre in that it's able to show just how ridiculous the genre can be. It's almost as funny as the insane Belgian gameshow that James had hosted. If there's anything funnier than making fun of American reality, it's making fun of the crazy foreign game shows. James' own version of the dating game show is yet another satire that does two things. The first is to provide even more satire of reality television tropes. The second is provide a comment on how the genre is incapable of finding true love in real life because of how crazy it is. Making love a competition doesn't work in real life simply because it makes it difficult to make actual human connections. Consider how James doesn't consider a single true personal connection to be made during his hosting or how June realizes she doesn't actually want the guy when she gets him. Both of these are stating that while they might be fun to watch, they're not actually going to lead anywhere meaningful.
Now let's talk about the conflict between the characters. The show has already established that Chloe and June are best friends but that doesn't mean that they're without their squabbles. June is generally an easy person to get along with but she can get crazy when the situation calls for it. Chloe is a character who is not only able to drag out that crazy but her lack of self-control and lack of morals makes her a constant source of conflict with June. That's why June is constantly trying to have Chloe take responsibility of her own actions while acting as her conscience. Having a guy come between them isn't anything new as many shows have explored the idea of a man coming between two female friends. The show manages to make this fight unique because of it's take on dating shows but also because of who Chloe is. She can't help but want to have sex with him because June wants him. She was attracted to Mark because he secretly had a crush on June. June is allowing Chloe to take some responsibility so that means Chloe resolves the conflict when she encourages the guy to give June an actual chance. A chance that makes June realize she can't be with him because he's not for her.
Finally, on the surprising revelations. During the course of the fake game, James decides to inject his own version of a reality show twist when he tells June that Mark has a crazy crush on her. This blows June's mind as she tries to process this information. The Mark having a crush on June is a plot that has been going for a while now and this is the first actual step it's taken since Mark realized it. When James has noted that Mark's crush has lasted a really long time, it's the show admitting it. It's a major revelation for James to have made but at least it's not a secret from Mark. He finds out that June knows about his crush but her reaction was to continue to win the dating game. This might have been a shocking revelation but it was an even bigger twist when the ending revealed that all the reality show “confessionals” was actually the group recounting the entire story to a police officer. This revelation was not only genius as it made everything funnier and make a lot more logical sense.
Dating Games is a funny episode of Apartment 23 that makes fun of dating games by having a fake one. It made sense with the characters and this series is just cartoonish to make it work. It's an important episode in that it allows June to realize Mark has a crush on her and he knows. It should be noted that since the network has clearly shown they're not interested in airing the episodes in proper order, it's just as likely that the next episode will have Mark antagonizing over how to tell June he has a crush on her.