'GCB': What the Critics Are Saying

ABC/Karen Real

Some say ABC's new comedy-drama could be a good replacement for "Desperate Housewives," while others say the show is struggling to spoof "superficiality without being superficial itself."

GCB, ABC’s new soap about a group of scheming Texas women was originally titled Good Christian Bitches, but then after a bit of outcry from some groups, changed to Good Christian Belles.

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The new series has been gaining plenty of media attention due to the controversial name change, and the supposed satire it plays on church in the South. It premeires on Sunday, March 4.

The series centers around Amanda (Leslie Bibb), the queen bee from high school who returns to Dallas to find that her high school peers have only gotten older and meaner. She has to deal with her high-maintenance mother, Gigi (Annie Potts), and her new neighbor and old high school classmate, Carlene “Kitten” Cockburn (Kristin Chenoweth).

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Critics praised the talented cast of the series, but many added that the show may have to grow past its “mean girl” shtick to succeed.

“There’s not a whole lot of subtlety in GCB, but there isn’t supposed to be,” writes The Hollywood Reporter’s Tim Goodman. “Created and written by Robert Harling, the show mixes the Texas lifestyle, Christianity, sex, riches, envy, revenge and sass into a sprawling, larger-than-life drama.

“For people looking for the next Housewives, GCB could be the perfect replacement. And no doubt the controversy will drive the curious to check it out. Either way, GCB probably will strike it rich,” added Goodman.

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“Where both Steel Magnolias and Desperate Housewives allowed even the most scheming and silly characters a solid core of humanity, GCB offers a parade of women that are such stereotypes of wealthy white Southern femininity they might as well be in drag,” write The Los Angeles Times’ Mary McNamara.

“The problem for GCB is that it hasn’t yet figured out a way to be a soap that spoofs superficiality without being superficial itself,” writes Time’s James Poniewozik.

“That’s not to say the show is never fun, because it is,” adds Poniewozik. “A fine cast, including Potts and Miriam Shor have a grand old time with roles that give them an unrestricted credit line of camp.”

GCB is certainly a satire on Bible-thumpers accessorized in Guccis and Marc Jacobs fuchsia blouses -- but it's one that's only intermittently sharp or funny,” writes Newsday’s Verne Gay. “Potts' Gigi gets the best lines and steals every scene that she's in like an accomplished thief.

GCB is neither an act of piety nor heresy. Mostly a waste of its stars, Leslie Bibb and Kristin Chenoweth, the series turns the clever concept of setting a show in a church into an utterly routine round of mean-girl slagging,” writes Alyssa Rosenberg of The Atlantic.

Sarah Rodman of the Boston Globe writes that the show “doesn’t quite add up to the most entertaining possible result, given the promise of the splendid cast and creative minds involved.”

“Every actor on the screen has done good work in the past and brings a positive - if not necessarily likable - quality to their character,” Rodman adds.