Playing the mean girls' game

JANE CLIFTON
Last updated 08:47 11/10/2012
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COMEDY: Don't Trust That B**** in Apartment 23 is about friends in New York.

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How to resist a show entitled, Don't Trust That B**** in Apartment 23, Tuesday, on Four? You'd have to be pretty prissy about swearing not to be entertainingly appalled by this wonderfully black new American comedy.

In the subversive tradition of Modern Family, this show parodies anything and everything, under the delightfully flimsy guise of being about two pretty young room-mates in rough, tough New York. Sweet-as-pie June arrives from the Midwest to begin her exciting new job, to find her firm has been raided as some kind of Ponzi scheme, and she has nowhere to live, either.

This delivers her into the clutches of Chloe, whose schtick is to pretend to be a dream flatmate in order get a whopping great rental deposit from a succession of trusting naifs from the sticks, then behave so vilely that they quickly leave. “I am part of the great digestive system that is New York,” she says, Holly Golightly's evil twin.

“Hi. I was going to help you move your stuff in. But then I didn't want to,” she tells June bluntly, eating yoghurt in the nude while the chubby voyeur in the adjacent apartment building looks on drooling. She deals drugs and promises June's virtue to a couple of drunken men. June is satisfyingly shocked and horrified. But she still won't move out. Before long she has turned the tables, selling Chloe's furniture to recoup her money. Now it's Chloe's turn to be shocked, and, she decides, rather impressed that Little Miss Corn-Fed Perfect has an inner B****. An unlikely alliance is formed, and the pair agree to exploit the big city together, with their competing ethical compasses see-sawing constantly.

And just to provide a nice little satire of post-modern affectation, Dawson Creek's James Van der Beek plays himself – a once-famous TV hunk who is Chloe's unlikely platonic friend.

Early on, June is advised to “adopt a looting mentality” and that's pretty much what Don't Trust That B**** does with respect to humour.

Everything is fair game, but most of all, it's the stereotypical hard-boiled New York ethos that's sent up.

Chloe is nasty and calculating to the core, and James' claim that she is secretly loyal to her friends is just another inadvertent one-liner, as plainly she would Ponzi her grandmother if the chance arose.

“I don't have any girl friends. Girls are mean,” she says. Never more so than this.

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