Monday, March 5, 2012
Review: GCB on ABC is Dallas, Dallas, Dallas
It's trash television, but we'll watch these queen B's again.
With Desperate Housewives in its last season, ABC premiered GCB right after Housewives on Sunday night, targeting the perfect audience to watch the new, big haired cat fight. GCB was so devilishly southern and contained so much smack about Dallas that it's bound to be a success.
The TV show was formerly titled Good Christian Bitches after the book by Dallas author Kim Gatlin, but the name was shortened, perhaps in a hackneyed attempt at southern decency. The name change might have all been a publicity stunt, and a believable one at that: Like the characters in the show, who would say the B word with Jesus watching?
In the first minute of the show, we see main character Amanda Vaughn's (Leslie Bibb's) husband Bill and his mistress -- Amanda's best friend -- flying off a cliff because the billionaire husband lost control of his car while his female friend did not-safe-for-work things to him underneath the steering wheel. It becomes known that Bill was a California billionaire because he ran a Ponzi scheme that his wife Amanda knew nothing about. Amanda and her kids leave the west coast to return to Hillside Park -- Dallas' Highland Park, that is -- to live with her rich mother and confront her old high school frenemies who have the money and meanness to make Amanda pay for ruling school some 20 years ago.
Cue the entrance to Dallas: a drive-by of City Hall, the Rosewood Crescent Hotel, Reunion Tower with no peek at the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, and finally, to grandma's manse on a green, tree-lined Swiss Avenue in not-so-fabricated Hillside Park. Carlene lives across the street and spies Amanda moving in with her pink bedazzled binoculars. As Amanda reunites with her former classmates, we learn that she ruined the lives of plenty of girls, and those women want to kill Amanda with their not-so-Christian kindness.
The screenwriters make Amanda seem to be the only one not off her rocker: She dresses in flattering long skirts while her blonde former friends don pink dresses and 6-inch heels; she wants a job while no female she knows works; and she seeks to buy her own home while her mother insists they stay put in her sprawling home. Amanda's most genuine high school friend, Heather Cruz (Marisol Nichols) is a real estate agent who takes Amanda's teeny income and halfway attempts to find her a home. There's a decrepit one-story in what looks to be Bluffview, where we see a Southwest Airlines plane soar seemingly 50 feet above the home as Amanda and Heather shout to one another amid the noise. Or, Amanda could buy a relatively decent place in her price range -- in Waxahachie, Heather digs.
The show contains plenty of questionable Southern accents, unbelievable scenarios, and stupid taglines -- "God often speaks to me through Christian ... Dior," says Amanda's mother Gigi Stopper (Annie Potts). The show supposes that all HP dwellers are church addicts who shop only at Neiman Marcus and are married to oil tycoons. But that's to be expected, based on every other Dallas-based television show we've seen in the past few years.
Look past all that, and you've got yourself a rich fairytale that hopefully is nothing like your own life. Reformed mean girl Amanda, now sober and grounded, spends most of the premiere episode convincing you that there really are nice rich people. Then, 57 minutes into the hour-long episode, Amanda becomes a queen B just like the rest of them -- at church, no less. And the world feels normal again.