Luke Graham continues his episode by episode review of E4’s latest American sitcom…
Making Rent was another strong episode of Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23 and was in some ways stronger than last week, which left out characters like Luther (Ray Ford), Mark Raynolds (Eric Andre) and Robin (Liza Lapiri). Every member of the principal cast made a contribution to this week’s story, which explored themes of exploitation, desperation and jam fetishism. Appropriately enough, the episode also satirised the film noir genre, with June (Dreama Walker) giving Double Indemnity-style narration and monologues.
The plot of Making Rent focused on room-mates June and Chloe (Krysten Ritter) trying to, well, make this month’s rent. Chloe tried her old room-mate scam from the first episode to make money, but is foiled by June. In turn, June tries to make money by making and selling jam to her Korean church. Of course, Chloe hi-jacks this scheme and ruins it by secretly filming June’s cooking for a fetish website.
This particular sequence was rather funny, with a typical cooking montage re-cut into a parody porn site and some great dialogue from June, Chloe and pervert neighbour Eli. On the other hand, the joke was a little overplayed and seemed like overt fan-service; basically it felt like lowest common-denominator titillation.
Out of a mix of desperation and desire for retaliation, June decides to exploit Chloe by giving obsessed yet well-off neighbour Robin access to her. June’s money worries are solved, but her conscience doesn’t let her rest easy.
Meanwhile, Chloe, out of desperation, tries to get money from James Van Der Beek, who is releasing a new clothes line of super skinny “Beek jeans.” James’ tailor, personal-assistant and now financial advisor, Luther, refuses to give Chloe any money. A rivalry between Luther and Chloe emerges in this episode because of her refusal to read his screenplay. I’m interested to see whether this rivalry will continue.
Chloe’s schemes to make a quick buck become more self-destructive by the end of the episode, as she plans to throw herself down a flight of stairs in order to sue James. It’s all played for laughs, but also underlines my point from my previous review that Chloe is not a bitch, but a psychopath in need of therapy.
I know I keep banging on about this, but for me the most interesting thing about the series is the question of who is the real bitch in apartment 23, and Making Rent openly engages with this topic, with June outright exploiting Chloe for her own selfish needs. One of the final scenes in the episode deals with June’s fear that Chloe’s influence is making her worse and could be making her “the bitch.” Chloe brushes this aside, arguing that they are making each other better, but it is a fairly flimsy argument and I am interested in seeing where the characters go from here, especially with only two episodes left of this season.
While it was a shame that James’ role in the episode was reduced from last week, we did see some great character development: we found out what Robin and Eli’s day jobs were (and what Eli’s stickier fetish was) and the relationship between Luther and Chloe was fleshed out. These moments are important as they serve to add depth to the series, as the characters develop from walking joke dispensers to real people.
As usual, there was plenty of great cutaway and non-sequitor humour, and my favourite character, Luther, was given some great moments, as he quoted lines from his screenplay, which sounded very much like leftovers from a Tennessee Williams script. Overall, it was another strong episode in a brilliant series.