‘GCB’ Pilot Recap: “That’s Texan for Karma”

With ‘Desperate Housewives’ finally winding down, ABC is already trying to line up a replacement series to fill that empty slot in the “catty rich women stabbing each other in the backs” genre. Or rather, another series to fill that slot. Although ‘Revenge’ still seems to be doing pretty well, the network apparently wanted something a little lighter and funnier to go with it. Thus we have the new Bible Belt satire ‘GCB’, which premiered on Sunday. Is this the second coming of Wisteria Lane?

In case the promo ads haven’t made it clear, the title stands for “Good Christian Bitches.” Between this and the new sitcom ‘Don’t Trust the B- in Apt. 23’, ABC is all about the bitches this season. You might say that the network is in the Bitch Business. Shame that Standards and Practices still won’t allow that word to actually be used in a show title. The acronym works particularly awkwardly with the network’s incessant need to brand everything with its own name. This can’t just be ‘GCB’. No, it has to be “ABC’s GCB.”

The series stars Leslie Bibb (who played Will Ferrell’s smokin’ hot wife in ‘Talladega Nights’) as Amanda Vaughn. I suppose it’s just a weird coincidence that the lead character in ‘Revenge’ is also named Amanda. As we learn in the opening scene, this Amanda was married to a Ponzi-scheming corporate crook who died while simultaneously attempting to drive and receive oral gratification from his mistress. Has ‘The World According to Garp’ taught us nothing?

When the government seizes everything she owns, Amanda is forced to pack up her two teenage kids and head to Dallas to move in with her estranged, yet very wealthy, mother (Annie Potts doing her best Swoozie Kurtz). There, we learn that Amanda used to be a Mean Girl back in high school. She reluctantly reconnects with her old circle of frenemies (the most notable being Kristin Chenoweth as busybody neighbor Carlene Cockburn), who smile to her face and gossip about her behind her back. The social scene in Dallas seems to revolve entirely around going to church, which Amanda isn’t all that thrilled about.

Plot-wise, the ‘Pilot’ episode is all about putting the pieces in place. When Amanda searches for a job and a new place to live, she’s routinely thwarted by the social circle of bitches eager to knock her down a peg. She eventually takes a waitressing gig at a Hooters-like restaurant so-subtly called Boobylicious, which she finds liberating and empowering, as only the character in a TV show could. The episode ends with her defiantly announcing this in church and publicly humiliating Carlene with the information she discovered that the restaurant is secretly owned by Carlene’s husband (David James Elliott from ‘JAG’).

The show is meant to be a comedy. It takes a lot of shots at big hair, gaudy clothes, and the ostentatiousness of the Dallas church scene. None of them dig too deeply, however. This is light and frothy entertainment, unlikely to offend anyone.

My problem with the series is Amanda herself. She’s drawn as entirely too smart, sensible and self-possessed, while everyone around her is a cartoon character. How is it that a person with her over-privileged background, her history as a Mean Girl, and her marriage to a scumbag white collar criminal could be just so danged nice? The show goes so far out of its way to make her a likeable character that I actually found her unlikeable. I’d have preferred it if she had been one of the title bitches. Instead, she’s portrayed as a fish-out-of-water, which makes little sense given that this is the pond she’s originally from. I also don’t buy into the Boobylicious storyline, which feels gratuitous, clichéd and unlikely.

The pilot episode isn’t awful or anything, but nor does it fully exploit the potential of its premise or setting. I can see the ‘Desperate Housewives’ audience being entertained by it. Unfortunately, the show didn’t do much for me. I don’t plan to watch again.


  1. JM

    How do you guys decide which shows to recap and which to ignore?

    Why ‘GCB’ and not ‘Spartacus Vengeance’ or ‘The Loving Story’?

  2. Every time I saw another TV spot for this I hated it just a little bit more. I love Kristin Chenoweth in ‘Pushing Daisies’ but I just couldn’t bring myself to even tune into the pilot. The incessant, annoying TV spots killed the little interest I had.

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