May 29, 2013
James’s personal assistant Luther (Ray Ford) is a portly black man who, just as his name suggests, looks much like that new 30-foot-tall statue on the National Mall of Martin Luther King”except that he’s flamingly effeminate. (In a series full of scene-stealers, Luther is the funniest of all.) These days, you aren”t supposed to portray gays on TV as less masculine than straights. And you definitely aren”t supposed to take Martin Luther King’s name in vain.
In the spirit of Chloe’s superfluous malice, are these intentional jabs at America’s two most untouchable racial icons? Why not? These days, who would even be aware of the show’s lack of reverence? As far as I can tell, nobody on the Internet has even noticed these jokes.
More fundamentally, Apartment 23 is a show about two women that demonstrates zero respect for feminist dogma. Chloe is as vicious toward June as city girl Gwendolen is to country girl Cecily in Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, a play that appears to be a model for Apartment 23‘s war on sentiment, clichÃ©, and cant.
The storyline’s meandering arc seems intended to eventually riff on Earnest‘s plot of babies lost and found. I suspect Chloe’s long-suffering mother and June’s opportunist mom somehow had their newborns switched in the maternity ward.
Already, at the end of season two, James discovers that the man he calls “Dad” isn”t his real father. His mother elucidates that his biological father was one of the summer stock cast of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, but his mother can”t remember which brother. “It was the 70s,” she notes.
Later, James explains to Chloe and June, “My real father is one of these seven dancers,” showing them a photo of seven leaping bearded chorus boys.
The always hovering and ever helpful Luther squints at the picture and pokes his finger, “Gay, gay…and gay.”
“My real father is one of these four dancers,” James patiently amends.
At the series” best, Chloe’s elaborate conspiracies against other characters are contrived not out of base motives for personal gain but out of aristocratic disdain for anything common. She’s an artist of living, an avenging angel who punishes anyone who doesn”t meet her inordinate standards of cynicism.
Things are funny because they are true”truer than many like to admit in this Age of Schmaltz. Not surprisingly, this high comedy failed to capture a mass audience on broadcast television.