Don’t Trust The B---- In Apartment 23: “The Scarlet Neighbor...”
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Don’t Trust The B---- In Apartment 23: “The Scarlet Neighbor...”

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Don’t Trust The B---- In Apartment 23

“The Scarlet Neighbor...”

Season 2, Episode 9

“Turn down the judgment, Judge Judy!”

“A slut by association”? Shut up, June. I was glad that “The Scarlet Neighbor…” didn’t go the way of “Whatever It Takes…”, which I felt completely went against the show’s lasseiz-faire attitudes toward promiscuity from either gender; this at least ended with June realizing that her attempts to shame Chloe into having a less insane sex life were really dickish.

I didn’t hate this episode—in fact, I found it really funny at times. It just felt a bit like a less-effective and less-funny retread of some of the same ground these characters already covered, particularly in “It’s Just Sex...” There, Chloe was teaching June about casual sex; I found No-Fun June teaching Chloe about serial monogamy (and farmers markets) both less fun and way less believable—the Chloe of past episodes would have put up with maybe three seconds of June talking about kale and monogamy before surfing right out of there on a magnificent eyeroll.

Because A. Nobody cares about fucking kale and B. Even though this show is cartoonish enough to pull off a sight gag involving several clowns emerging from a tiny port-a-john that, minus the implied group sex, would have felt right at home on Looney Toons, the writers have still had the characters learn things and grow instead of just hitting reset after each episode a la The Simpsons. So it’s aggravating when June suddenly gets amnesia and starts acting like she’s fresh off the bus from Indiana or wherever, or when Chloe suddenly starts caring about what June and their neighbors think about her and her sex life because that’s convenient for the plot of a particular episode.

JVDB plays the voice of reason a couple times in this episode, trying to remind June that Chloe is already fun and happy the way she is, and requires no fixing. I kept hoping that Chloe had a hidden motive for tolerating June’s bullshit that would be revealed in a way as funny as “I am required by Meghan’s Law to tell you…” But nope—just spooked by the cougar bar that no cougars would ever actually flock to because it is named Saddlebags. And it seems pretty clear that Chloe is only spooked by their oldness—and people don’t age because they have sex (if they did, then Highlander conventions would be taken to a whole ‘nother level), they age because they get older regardless of how many people they bang. Chloe’s usually very pragmatic, and having her overlook this bugged me a bit. At least, unlike in “Whatever It Takes…” which dealt with related issues of sluttiness, the lesson at the end is learned by June, and it’s that she shouldn’t be so judgmental about about other people’s sex lives.

Ugh, I’m kind of bummed about this, but if I didn’t go into each episode equipped with all this arcane knowledge about when this episode was supposed to run and where it exists in the timeline of the show and how high my expectations should be, I would be really frustrated with Apartment 23. And most people do not go into a sitcom having done research.

This first-season leftover episode is kind of mystifyingly out of order with the show's timeline—June’s still working at the coffee shop, and Mark is back with his terrifying girlfriend, only to break up, only to get back together. (Still wondering if we’ll at some point meet Jennifer, who we learn hates hair, reggae, tank tops, muscles on a man and brunch, and loves hiking with the cats.)

 Sweet Chloe’s back with her seemingly accurate read of what Mark’s really saying (“I like June! I really like June! I don’t know it yet, but I like June.”) She seems to realize that Mark’s eagerness to adopt June’s weirdnesses (the Saltines by the bed are reminiscent of the lemons in the purse from “Daddy’s Girl…”) is a sign that she probably should actually put only Mark on the verboten list, while re-qualifying every other potential man in the world (who’s over 18).

Stray Observations:

  • “Hey, get a load of the slut detective!”
  • Since Chloe obviously had some sort of ulterior motive for going to the tenant meeting, I thought her nonchalant “Oh, hey, I am legally required to inform you that I’m a sex offender!” was a really effective surprise. However, given that this show has historically been a little ooky with jokes about less-than-consensual sex—it may stick out less when Chloe implies she banged a man she’d shot with a tranq gun or a haunted JVBD mentions that it’s not fun to be a blonde dude in a Vietnamese jail than it would if the genders were reversed, but it’s still icky, and that’s not even getting into “Whatever It Takes…”—I was glad that the writers didn’t go for the low-hanging fruit with statutory hottie Anthony, aka Nut-Nut.
  • Speaking of Anthony: “Yellow belt, huh? Weak.” Exactly what I thought, Chloe—what, is he, like, 8? The Capri Sun and string cheese don’t help.
  • Tonight’s This Line’s For The Ladies: “Yeah, Vitamin C for Careless!“ as Chloe throws back a Plan B.
  • God, I am so full of regret that the phrase “Well, I’m gonna go take him down to Poundtown!” was not in my lexicon when I was in my early 20s.
  •  “Sometimes you throw brunch, and sometimes brunch throws you.” There’s something too funny about the greeting-card perfection of that line.
  • Chloe yelling “ARIGATO HEYYYY!” after finishing banging a random Asian dude may have sounded kinda racist to viewers unfamiliar with Hansel, the tastemaker trifecta from “Making Rent…” and “A Reunion…” I’m glad that Chloe and James find it funny enough to make it an inside joke between them, because I will find ARIGATO HEYYY funny to infinity and beyond. And Krysten Ritter’s “enh?” face after hazarding a guess that the rando’s name was Tim is great.
  • Chloe texts “I’m having sex, save me some eggs!!” and then immediately asks where her eggs are upon emerging from the bedroom ten minutes later.
  • Ray Ford is so great as Luther, seriously. When I think about how lame the intermittent flashes of him as JVDB’s wingman/saboteur could have been and compare them to how funny they actually were, it’s pretty astonishing. Ray Ford appears to be equally great IRL: Here is a really adorable/strange HEYYYY left for him on IMDB by the actor who played Mario (who doesn’t like to hold hands on the subway). And here is a similar one. Those are the only two discussions of Ray Ford on IMDB. Those earrings are terrible.
  • Whoosh, sorry this one took me so long to get up—no screener this week and I’ve got the flu.

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