Last night’s innaugural episode of GCB (aka Good Christian B*tches) sets up our characters, the storyline and the bitchy tone in break neck speed. With Annie Potts, Kristin Chenowith and Leslie Bibb, it has a lot going for it. Did it meet this crazy, camp-loving bitch’s standards?
Let’s find out.
Let’s start with the good shall we? This episode set up multiple storylines in a no time at all. The scenes were short and nothing felt like it dragged or was unnecessary. I really enjoyed the main storyline of the reformed mean girl (Bibb’s Amanda) who comes back to town and the tormented girls who greet her with icy open arms – and knives behind their backs. There is definitely potential in this and the actors are more than up to the task of delivering some really great bitchiness. I just hope that the creators and writers exploit this to the fullest.
Kristin Chenowith is by far the best thing about the show as the reigning queen B, Charlene Cockburn. Cheno is probably best known to viewers as Olive Snook from the wonderful but cancelled series Pushing Daisies or as the original Glinda in the Broadway musical Wicked (Glee fanatics may also recognize her as boozy April Rhodes). It is a real treat to see her play the bad girl here and she does it with a-plomb. I loved seeing Charlene spy on Amanda from across the street, using stools and chairs so she could see and in the process making fun of her well known short stature. It was also nice to see her have a sweet and loving – and a little kinky – relationship with her husband, Ripp (the suprisingly enjoyable David James Elliott of Jag fame).
On top of that we have the glorious return of Annie Potts to primetime television, and it is a welcome return for one of my favorite Designing Women. Potts, as the overbearing and over-the-top matriarch Gigi Stopper, gives it her all in a role that unfortunately still feels clichéd. The character itself is somewhere between Arrested Development‘s Lucille Bluth (Jessica Walters as the gold standard) and 90210‘s Tabitha Wilson (Jessica Walters as one-dimensional cut out). This isn’t necessarily bad, but it’s not great either. Last night’s episode proves what a great actress Potts is and with better material she could knock it out of the park and develop a really great character.
The rest of the ladies are enjoyable, notably Miriam Shor as Cricket Caruth-Reilly. The actress plays Cricket with great shrewdness and definitely proved to be a stand out as the frustrated wife of a closeted gay cowboy. Then there is Jennifer Aspen as the overeating and somewhat naive Sharon Peacham. Although her character and storyline didn’t seem all that interesting, the scene where she pretends to be Amanda to get information about a gift card is one of the few genuinely funny moments from the episode. Rounding out the cast is Marisol Nichols as high powered real estate agent Heather Cruz. Unfortunately for Nichols, she’s been saddled with the least interesting character as Heather is utterly forgettable in a cast of crazy ladies.
Now with the truly bad. First off the main character, Amanda Vaughn, is a bore next to all the over-the-top characters that surround her. Leslie Bibb, bless her heart, tries to make her interesting, but I feel like the writers depend too much on the assumption that we will feel for her because she is down and out (apparently this should make her relatable to the TV viewer). The problem is that we don’t relate to her and we don’t really care for her because we don’t know her. Other than an obvious love for her children, Amanda doesn’t seem at all genuine, feels one dimensional, and Bibb doesn’t really convey warmth very well. Of course this is the first episode and hopefully all the characters will become less cookie cutter as the series progresses.
By far the biggest problem of the show is the writing. It’s just not that great. Some of the storylines have a “been there, done that” feel, and nothing about this first episode gave me any indication that there was anything interesting coming. And really this show is supposed to be over-the-top and bitchy, but other then a few passive aggressive comments and back handed compliments there isn’t that much bite to the comedy. I was reminded of another Leslie Bibb show, Popular – the short lived 90s show – which in hindsight plays like a prequel to GCB. In that show, Bibb played Brooke McQueen, the reigning queen of her high school in a show that was a juicy bitch fest with some of the best one liners in recent memory (the 90s are recent right?). And Tammy Lynn Michaels as Nicole Julian was a great example of a “queen of mean”. I hope that GCB aims to become more like shows such as Popular and Ugly Betty, which are both great examples of drama filled with delicious campy goodness.
So far I’m not convinced that this show will make the cut, but am willing to give it a few more weeks to spread its wings.
What did other folks think of GCB? Does it get a season pass or a Texas-sized thumb down? Is this your go-to to replace Desperate Housewives when that evening sudser bows out later this year? And did you find Sharon’s food related humour funny or offensive? Sound off below!
GCB airs Sundays at 10pm ET on ABC