FLAT­MATES FROM HELL!

What hap­pens when a sweet, eas­ily led girl moves in with a ly­ing cheat... with some rather in­ter­est­ing friends?

The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - FEATURE - Lina Das

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.

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