FLATMATES FROM HELL!
What happens when a sweet, easily led girl moves in with a lying cheat... with some rather interesting friends?
Who would have believed that sleeping with your roommate’s fiancé — on her birthday cake, no less — would prove the ultimate act of selflessness? Granted, it’s not the most conventional start to a friendship, but then Apartment 23 isn’t the most conventional of comedies.
It starts off conventionally enough, though, with a wide-eyed June (Dreama Walker) arriving in New York from rural Indiana, ready to start her dream job at a mortgage company in a dream apartment overlooking the city, ‘just like in Friends’. Events veer off course on June’s first day at work though when the mortgage company is shut down due to a fraud scandal, the dream apartment is repossessed and June finds herself jobless and out on the street. During her search for a place to live, she happens upon Chloe (Krysten Ritter) who at first glance looks the perfect flatmate: a beautiful party girl with Dawson’s Creek star James Van Der Beek (played by himself) as one of her best friends.
But the perfect flatmate turns into a nightmare when Chloe tries to cheat June by charging her extra rent and partying every night in an attempt to force her out of the apartment (and thus keep hold of June’s deposit) — a scam she’s pulled off repeatedly. But when June stands her ground, Chloe actually starts warming to her and it is then that she performs the noble service of bedding June’s fiancé — a feckless cheater unbeknownst to June — atop her birthday cake. As June later remarks, ‘It was the best thing that ever happened to me.’
The show, created by American Dad! executive producer Nahnatchka Khan, is fast-paced and not a little crazy. Says Khan, ‘Chloe is based on a compilation of a bunch of different people I’ve known over the years who, for legal reasons, will remain nameless.’ Krysten adds, ‘If Holly Golightly and Satan had a child, it would be my character.’
Though the strange friendship that develops between Chloe and June is eminently watchable, critics agree that it’s actually James Van Der Beek who steals the show. He plays a heightened version of himself — a single, sweet but self-obsessed actor desperate to distance himself from the role in Dawson’s Creek which turned him into a star (but who still finds plenty of time to bed Dawson groupies). In real life, Van Der Beek is married with two kids and, unlike his parody of himself, self-deprecating. ‘My character is just kind of crazy,’ he says. ‘Really sweet but completely narcissistic. Every once in a while I come back home to my daughter and say, “Sorry what I’m doing to the family name, kiddo.” This has been the most fun I’ve had doing anything. By episode three James Van Der Beek bears less and less resemblance to me, which just made it even more fun.’ Apartment 23, Thursday, 9.30pm, E4.