Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
At today’s TCA panel on Don’t Trust The B— In Apartment 23, creator/executive producer Nahnatchka Khan said the show is different from other new “roommate” comedies like CBS’ 2 Broke Girls because one of the roommates is a total bitch. The bitch (Krysten Ritter’s Chloe) is the B— of the title. It’s a word ABC entertainment president Paul Lee said earlier in the day could not be included in the title of a network show, even though it might work for cable. The new series — from American Dad executive producer Khan with David Hemingson and Jeff Morton — is about a sweet girl from the heartland (Dreama Walker’s June) forced by circumstances to bunk in with a wild roommate who doesn’t mind having sex on top of a birthday cake.
Khan said she was OK with taking “bitch” out of the title but is glad the phrase “Don’t trust” was maintained, rather than shortening the title to Apartment 23. “The ‘Don’t Trust’ part I feel strongly about; it says it’s something is dangerous and a little bit different,” Kahn said. “I like the warning of it.” She added: “The B, as we like to call it, will always be a B.”
Khan said she likes bad girls. And she said she pitched the show with the cold open of the sex-with-frosting cake scene. “There seems to be a vibe in network TV right now that is accepting of girls who behave badly,” she said. She joked that trends in TV must happen because network executives must all be getting together to have a secret meeting. “Another year, it might be the year of the fat man with an attractive wife,” she cracked.
Another distinguishing factor from other roommate comedies: Star James Van Der Beek (Dawson’s Creek) plays himself in the show. “It’s a lot more fun not to take myself so seriously,” he said. The actor said references to Dawson’s Creek would not dominate the comedy. Kahn said the idea of taking someone from real life and making them a character is the vein of a series such as Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm. She added that to a Twitter generation that grew up on reality TV, the line between fiction and reality is already blurred.
After the session, Kahn said that in the past bad girls were not readily accepted on network TV. And although this show was in development before the movie hit Bridesmaids, she says the film’s success “gets the audience prepared” for Apartment 23. She added that writers did not allow New Girl to influence their scripts for the 13 completed episodes. “That show has a specific tone, and we’re doing something else,” she said.
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