Tonight’s episode of Apt 23 is all about ‘being cool’, and the severe insecurities that lie beneath the surface of everyone, whether they’re cool or not. It’s not the best episode we’ve seen thus far – and since it wasn’t written as a season finale, does a poor job acting as one. It’s still a fun episode that continues the deconstruction of Chloe and June as individuals, and why that makes them such a great pair for friendship. Toss in a completely useless JVDB plot that takes up WAY too much screen time, and what you’ve got is a slightly above average episode of comedy, with a few good emotional notes in the final third.
In a nutshell, ‘Shitagi Nashi’ is the same as the six episodes before it: June & Chloe clash over their different personalities, learning something in the process that makes them stronger in the long run. But what keeps the show fresh is the wackiness that surrounds the familiar, repetitive structure: how many shows would explore friendship through comic books? The ‘Tall Girl, No Panties’ graphic novels not only add to the mythological magnetism Chloe’s defined by, but also an underlying insecurity that we haven’t seen yet from her. Sure, she’s confident and open, but she is always so wild because she doesn’t want to be forgotten, and feels like she has to compensate by being the biggest, wildest party hound in NYC.
It’s a touching bit of character that’s been needed for Chloe: while June’s done a lot of soul-searching in the first six episodes, all we’ve gotten from Chloe is her making some small concessions on how she likes to go about things, and haven’t really dug into what’s underneath all the witty dialogue and snazzy outfits. She’s really a very guarded person, the reasons of which have been alluded to in a couple jokes early on, and the ability of the writers to let us peek behind the Chloe Curtain and see the woman inside, without having her break down and bawl about it in some typical ‘bonding’ fashion.
There’s no hugging needed between them at the end when Chloe calls June her friend: June’s smile says it all, and it doesn’t turn into some sappy moment where people hug and remind us all why its good to have pals (like many episodes in the latter, terrible seasons of Friends felt like it needed to do when not doing crappy Rachel/Ross story lines). And it’s that balance between Apt 23‘s genuine emotional core and the absurdities of the world Chloe and June live in, that makes it such a fun and promising show to watch.
The trouble arises when it dives too far into cartoon or parody, something the JVDB story really suffers from. His actor insecurities might’ve parallaled well on paper with Chloe’s mini-journey through the episode, but in execution, it failed miserably. I like the Beeker much better when he’s interacting with June and Chloe, or having short little one-off jokes like his personal action figure collection or reporting June’s comics to the FBI. It doesn’t help that the talent-less Dean Cain (who looks…. different?) in a pointless cameo, where he’s given nothing to do except remind us that C-list celebrities are usually the competitors on Dancing With the Stars.
Thankfully, some humanized moments (FINALLY) from Robin and Eli balance out the cringe-worthy ‘ceiling tile count’ plot with Luther and JVDB. The one thing I’ve consistently complained about is their over-the-top tendencies, and the show’s slowly been tuning down the wackier parts of them, to the benefit of everything around it. They still might not be interacting with the main cast in ways that don’t seem forced (I’m looking at you, Mark) but it takes a little time to unwind the kinks, and the progress of Robin & Eli are a great start.
So Apt 23 exits until the fall, where we’ll get to see what Khan & co. have in company for a full season of adventures. ‘Shitagi Nashi’ might not be the most consistent piece we’ve seen thus far, but the improvements of the minor characters and the show’s strong emotional core that comes out at the end of each half-hour are a promising sign. Apt 23 was one of the bigger surprises of this season’s new comedies, and I’m looking forward to seeing it paired with Happy Endings this fall on Tuesday nights.
- one thing I didn’t understand: why would June think her and Chloe have so much in common at this point in time? That stuck out a bit as feeling a little forced.
- speaking from personal experience, getting your stomach pumped from alcohol poisoning is a lot more painful when a catheter is involved. Not fun.
what did you think of ‘Shitagi Nashi’? Feel free to leave thoughts/comments below, and stop by next week for my final thoughts on season 1!