GCB Review: ABC's New Drama Premieres Sunday Night
With Desperate Housewives on its way out, ABC will have a vacancy for a new set of upper-middle-class suburbanites meddling in each other’s lives and finding themselves buried in drama on a regular basis. GCB answers the call, and while it doesn’t start off with as intriguing a hook as DH had at its start, those looking for more soapy drama in the suburbs may find what they’re looking for here.
Based on Kim Gatlin’s book Good Christian Bitches, GCB follows Amanda Vaughn (Leslie Bibb), a woman whose husband died a scandalous death, leaving her and their children penniless and forced to move back to Dallas to live with Amanda’s mother Gigi (Annie Potts). The homecoming reunites Amanda with her old school mates (played by Kristin Chenoweth, Miriam Shor, Jennifer Aspen, Marisol Nichols). We soon learn that Amanda was a mean girl in high school and some of the people from her past may still be holding grudges against her.
The premiere episode has Amanda begrudgingly returning home and attempting to start her life over after the well publicized catastrophe that was her husband’s death. While people in her Dallas community act mostly friendly and welcoming on the surface, the hostility some are feeling is barely veiled, which offers a bit of catty humor and sets up fast rivalries. Kristin Chenoweth’s Carlene Cockburn is probably the most enthusiastic in seeing Amanda suffer, despite being a church-going Christian woman. While we’re given more than enough reason to understand why Amanda is disliked by some of the people from her old life, she’s now set up as sort of an underdog.
For whatever the reason, she’s no longer the mean, shallow person she once was. So we’re meant to want to see her overcome the obstacles being put in her path, despite the fact that she may have been making people’s lives hell when she was busy ruling high school years ago. And speaking of high school, her own kids are now tasked to adjust to their new reality, which includes adapting to Dallas culture and the same socially competitive lifestyle Amanda grew up in, but might not want for her children. This includes her mother’s influence and a legacy she left behind at her alma mater.
There’s a strong female cast here. Bibb plays Amanda as sympathetic, and remorseful over her mean-girl days. Chenoweth embraces the role of a woman who's ruling the roost in her community, and she offers her musical talents by singing at church. And Potts plays up the energetic, opinionated mother/grandmother nicely. The men don’t quite shine as brightly as the women, and they’re not really set up to as this is definitely a female skewed drama, but there are some potentially interesting husband developments brewing.
There’s a sort of cartoonishness to the humor and the characters in this show, some of which might not cast Dallas women in the best light, or seems to celebrate stereotypes, at the very least. But, much in the way Desperate Housewives blends drama, humor and some primetime soap elements together, so does GCB, creating a world and story that could serve as a colorful, amusing and dramatic escape from reality for viewers.
As I mentioned earlier, GCB doesn’t offer the same dark hook that Desperate Housewives did in its opening episode, which leaves the drama a bit warm in terms of intrigue, but some may appreciate the humor and drama in female rivalry, and the story being set up for the lead character, which has her attempting to start over while also being forced to face her past. As for me, after a couple of episodes, I’m still on the fence on this one. There’s a lot going on in the premiere episode and it may take more than a few episodes to warm to the characters, which may prove to be an issue scheduling-wise, given how much is going on on Sunday nights.
GCB premieres Sunday, March 4 at 10:00 p.m. ET on ABC.
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