The ‘Bitch’ Is Back

ABC has a modest hit in ‘Apt. 23’

It may be unwise to place too much trust in the occupant of Apt. 23, but Chloe the comely sociopath seems to have struck a nerve with viewers.

Per Nielsen live-plus-same-day data, ABC’s new comedy Don’t Trust the B—- in Apt. 23 appears to be holding up well in its Wednesday 9:30 p.m. time slot, beating CBS, NBC and The CW with a 2.6 in the adults 18-49 demo.

The final half hour of Fox’s 120-minute American Idol showcase won the slot outright, averaging 17 million viewers and a 4.7 in the demo.

With an average draw of 6.43 million total viewers, the second installment of DTTB retained 93 percent of its April 11 premiere deliveries. Last night’s episode also performed well in the demo, retaining 90 percent of the series opener’s 2.9 rating.

Fox’s juggernaut aside, DTTB easily outmatched CBS’ Criminal Minds repeat, which served up a 1.7 in the dollar demo. NBC’s underperforming Rock Center With Brian Williams delivered a 0.8 rating opposite DTTB, while America’s Next Top Model drew a 0.5 for The CW.

While the DTTB numbers suggest the show may have legs, the ratings game will only get tougher next week. ABC on April 25 will air all repeats in the 90 minutes leading up to DTTB, which essentially erases the Modern Family benefit. (Last night, Modern Family averaged 10.2 million viewers and a 4.1 in the demo.)

Reaction to DTTB has been largely positive. According to Networked Insights, much of the chatter in the social media space centered around co-star James Van Der Beek, aka “the Beek from the Creek,” who archly plays an exaggerated version of himself.

(Those of you who have forgotten about the majesty of Dawson’s Creek are encouraged to go laugh at the Beek’s constipated crying face here.)

Lead actress Krysten Ritter also gets a lot of Twitter love, boasting 21,700 followers. Her Twitter bio reads, in part, “New show Don't Trust the B—- in Apt. 23 on ABC WEDNESDAYS 9:30—yes I’m the bitch. mwah hahaha.”

Two weeks before its premiere date, the pilot episode of DTTB was made available on Hulu, and Comcast’s Xfinity service.

Networked Insights lead analyst Sean Reckwerdt said there are many opportunities for brands to “unlock” the DTTB audience, noting that “some of the other content that Apt. 23/Dawson’s Creek fans have engaged with are actor James Franco, the new Black Keys album (El Camino), the retail store Target and the shows Gossip Girl and Modern Family.”

With a median age of 45 years, DTTB is attracting a marginally older audience than the previous time slot occupant, Happy Endings. The show draws three women for every two male viewers.

One bunch that isn’t enjoying DTTB is the tin-eared advocacy group/nuisance machine the Parents Television Council. The Cotton Mather-esque PTC yesterday issued a statement claiming that the series’ name “represents a continuing and disturbing trend of using offensive, profane language in the very title of the program, where it is nearly impossible for families to avoid.”

Of course, by definition, that euphemistic deployment of placeholder dashes automatically recuses ABC from any charge of obscenity/profanity. “Bitch” is an impolite and often vulgar word. “B—-” is not a word at all.

Idol handily dominated the night, averaging 16.9 million viewers and a 4.8 in the demo from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. That 4.8 rating gave Fox a decisive Wednesday win—runner-up ABC averaged a 2.5, while CBS’ first-run Survivor and two repeats (Criminal Minds, CSI) delivered a 2.0 in the demo. Univision took fourth place (1.5), while NBC finished out of the money with a 1.2 rating.