TV, Interrupted: Wild Network Sitcom Don't Trust The B---- In Apt. 23 Left The Party Early

(Welcome to TV, Interrupted, a series where the /Film team remembers, eulogizes, and makes a case for the revival of TV shows we loved that were canceled far too soon.)

People say never to judge a book by its cover, but when it comes to TV shows, sometimes it's just as important not to judge them by their titles. "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," for example, doesn't exactly sound like the groundbreaking and celebrated hero's journey that it is. Other shows like "Selfie," "Cougar Town," and the eventually mercifully renamed "Scrotal Recall" (it's called "Lovesick" now) are also way better than their titles would lead one to believe.

The same is true of 2012's short-lived ABC comedy "Don't Trust the B—– in Apartment 23," an outrageous, surreal, fast-paced sitcom starring Krysten Ritter, Dreama Walker, James Van Der Beek, and Eric Andre. Whereas some other titles oversell the wackier aspects of the shows in question, though, "Don't Trust the B" simply can't be tamed or contained by something as simple as a title.

This show by Nahnatchka Khan is an even wilder ride than its title — a whispered warning that country girl June (Walker) hears on the way to meet her first big city roommate — would imply. "Don't Trust the B—– in Apartment 23" is a witty, twisty, joyfully mean-spirited show about the worst possible housemate imaginable. It's also a show that should've lasted much longer than its two short seasons.

Why Don't Trust the B---- in Apt. 23 was great

When I pitch people on "Don't Trust the B—– in Apartment 23," I always think of a few plotlines that demonstrate how joltingly funny this off-the-wall sitcom could be. There's the time when stylish and vaguely sociopathic party girl Chloe (Ritter) tricks her sweet midwestern roommate June into falling for a hot friend of hers, only for June to later learn he's actually Chloe's not-very-single dad. This comes immediately after June's long-term relationship falls through when Chloe has sex with her boyfriend on top of her birthday cake.

There's also that time James (who plays a washed-up, self-obsessed version of himself in the show) gets to guest lecture at a university, only to find out that all his students just want to hear "Dawson's Creek" gossip. Plus, there's the plot where June walks into her new office job to see employees frantically shredding documents and lighting things on fire as an FBI raid looms. A few hours later, she runs into her boss Mark (Andre) at a coffee shop, where he's somehow already landed a manager job ("can't have a gap in the resume, right?").

The incredible thing about all of these examples is that they're just from the first two episodes of the show, and "Don't Trust the B—–" follows them up with 24 more bonkers plotlines. It's a show that seemed to be eternally in its comedic prime, always ready with a ruthless or perverted quip from Chloe or her bestie James, or an eccentric aside from June or Mark. Ritter, whose talent as a dramatic actor has been proven on shows like "Jessica Jones" and "Breaking Bad," is sharply hilarious here as the titular b****, while Walker and Van Der Beek match her beat for beat.

Why Don't Trust the B---- in Apt. 23 was canceled

In retrospect, it should've been clear from the start that this show was too weird for network TV. It bucks tradition at every turn, from its gleefully amoral friend group to its supporting cast, which also includes Chloe's ex-roommate and stalker Robin (Liza Lapira) and her peeping tom neighbor Eli (Michael Blaiklock), a friendly voyeur whom Chloe entertains by cooking in the nude. Every inch of "Don't Trust the B—– in Apartment 23" is purposely meta and messy and provocative, and that just doesn't seem to gel with a primetime lineup that also included "Dancing with the Stars" and "Modern Family."

The official cancellation for "Don't Trust the B—– in Apartment 23" came mid-way through season 2, when IndieWire reported that ABC yanked it from the network schedule without airing several of the season's remaining episodes. Ritter herself announced the news on Twitter, and in a Twitter post, Van Der Beek explained that the decision simply came down to ratings:

I know most of you watched us on your own time & platform and that the competitive network scheduling game is irrelevant to you, but network TV is a business dictated by Nielson [sic] ratings. And while that's an antiquated business model, it's the only one they've got. Thanks to all who tuned in. We had a blast making it.

He went on to ask that fans not get angry with ABC, because although the network didn't "nail it" when it came to programming the show, they did take "a shot at something original and edgy." It's true that the series had several hiccups along the way. Not only did it move time slots, but it also aired several episodes out of order, leading to an extremely confusing viewing experience.

Unfinished business

In the end, viewers were left with a frustratingly short and disorganized viewing experience, as several episodes from the second season were never aired. Luckily, they were restored on Hulu in 2013, in an early example of a series finding a new home on streaming. Alas, though, Hulu only signed off on streaming the episodes that had already been made, and no more seasons of "Don't Trust the B—–" were ever made.

The show didn't leave too many loose ends behind, but the one plot thread it didn't tie up is impressively random. In the final episode, Van Der Beek seeks out his birth father, only to discover that it may or may not be "MacGyver" actor Richard Dean Anderson. The episode ends on a joke that shows the series wasn't anywhere near ready to end, as he meets Anderson and ends up with the door shut in his face. Elsewhere, Chloe and June start to trust each other more as friends after Chloe finally deals with the baggage of a past reality dance show-related betrayal.

"Don't Trust the B—– in Apartment 23" is so creatively outlandish that had it continued, there's no telling where it would have gone. Its plots are nearly always surprising, but Van Der Beek did tell Vulture about one possible storyline he and Khan had considered. In it, the meta version of himself would turn the cop drama he wrote in season 1, called "Fingered," into a musical. Based on everything the show gave us in its first two seasons, I trust that every one of its songs would've been bangers.

Will Don't Trust the B---- in Apt. 23 ever return?

While "Don't Trust the B—– in Apartment 23" has continued to gain cult status since going off the air, it's still more of a deeply appreciated hidden gem than a widely recognized new cult classic. Still, programming options have gotten a lot more vast since it ended, so if its creator and stars ever got to give it a shot again, there could be a place for the show somewhere out there. In addition to Hulu, Logo also made the episodes available in order after the show's cancellation, which demonstrates that even if it was too edgy for ABC, it could've found the right home elsewhere.

There don't seem to be any immediate plans for a "Don't Trust the B—–" reunion, but the cast and crew would apparently be on board with the idea if it did happen. In a 2019 Bustle profile, Khan said that the show could someday come back for a limited run or even a holiday special. She says that the current TV landscape has characters and humor that remind her of the show, pointing out that irreverent "Killing Eve" sociopath Villanelle seems like a descendent of Chloe. She also says that Van Der Beek and Walker would be on board.

Ritter has also expressed interest, telling audiences at Comicpalooza in 2018 that the show's return would be a "dream come true" and that she's "always trying to find ways" to bring it back. At this point, fans expecting the series' return will pretty much have to do the opposite of what the show's title tells them to: trust the b—– in apartment 23 to come back again someday.