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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

GCB is an appropriate name

ABC's newest drama, GCB, premiered this week. Originally titled Good Christian Bitches, but abbreviated due to decency standards, the story follows Amanda Vaughn (Leslie Bibb, Iron Man, Crossing Jordan), whose husband dies unexpectedly in a sexual encounter, not involving his wife, while driving. After his demise, it comes out that he ran a Ponzi scheme, and Amanda, who looses everything, is forced to move home to Texas, and in with her mother, Gigi (Annie Potts, Designing Women, Ghostbusters). Believe it or not, Amanda's life gets worse than that, as she has trouble finding a job, and is soon tormented by the girls she wasn't so nice to in high school.

See, Amanda is a former mean girl, and her past victims would like to turn the tables on her, especially when she is so vulnerable. This clique is led by Carlene Cockburn (Kristin Chenoweth, Pushing Daisies, The West Wing), who lives across the street from Gigi. When Carlene isn't making veiled criticisms of Amanda in church or spying with bionoculars through the window, Carlene calls upon her network, including business maven Cricket (Miriam Shor, Damages, Swingtown), beauty queen-gone-to-seed Sharon (Jennifer Aspen, Glee, Rodney), and real estate agent Heather (Marisol Nichols, The Gates, 24). Heather quickly softens towards Amanda, as they don't hate each other as strongly. But Carlene is in charge, and Heather isn't likely to stray too far out of line. 

GCB is good, not great. Which is why the title is apt. The problem seems to stem with Bibb. Surrounded by pros like Potts and the other main women, Bibb just doesn't have the chops to pull off being the center of the series. It's not that she's terrible; this just isn't the ideal role for her, and she doesn't feel all that authentic in it. Bibb's faults are glaringly magnified in the company of the others. She's still a pretty face, but she doesn't exhibit the depth the others do.

It's a story told before, and it isn't all that fresh just because of the Texas drawl several, but not all, of the characters exhibit. Viewers are supposed to feel sympathetic towards Amanda, no matter what her past indiscretions are, because she is in a sorry state, and has changed quite a bit while raising two teenage kids (Lauran Irion and Passions' Colton Shires) as a widow. However, as soon as she is back with her mother, Gigi seems to take over much of the parenting responsibility, and Amanda starts to slip back into her old ways. Perhaps this can be forgiven, as she is being pushed to it, but it's not a pretty quality for her.

There are men in this story. It may not be immediately obvious because they are basically eye candy, interchangeable amongst each other. Of course, this is just the "Pilot," so some of them may grow into something down the road. But despite a few distinguishing moments, such as Cricket's husband, Blake (Mark Deklin, Lone Star, Hawaii Five-0), flirting with a guy, and Sharon's Zach (Brad Beyer, Jericho, Third Watch) trying to sleep with Amanda, they aren't all that memorable. It's no wonder that their wives are unhappy, with spouses who act like this! With even the lone faithful man, Carlene's Ripp (David James Elliott, JAG, Close to Home), barely developed, these stereotypes are enough to drive any girl crazy.

What isn't clear is if any of these characters will turn out to be good Christians. There are bitches aplenty, but characters that actually stick to their moral values, well, those are less sure.

Besides all of the cheating and the backstabbing, the actual good story here trying to get out revolves around the relationship between Gigi and Amanda. Gigi doesn't seem to have approved of Amanda's high school attitude, but still loves her daughter. She eagerly opens her home, and even anonymously showers Amanda with gifts. This is a mom trying to make up for perceived failure, which may not even be her fault. Which makes Potts the absolute best part of GCB.

Following Desperate Housewives, and with a somewhat related sensibility, one would expect something a little better. GCB is not that something. GCB airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.

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