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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

‘GCB’ successfully replaces ‘Desperate Housewives’

Published: March 9, 2012
Section: Arts, Etc.

With “Desperate Housewives” soon leaving the air, ABC took the opportunity to premiere its new show “GCB” (Good Christian Belles) this past Sunday. The series follows Amanda Vaughn, played by Leslie Bibb, the widow of a Ponzi scheme artist as she moves back to her hometown of Dallas, Texas. She is immediately a character for whom the audience roots. Having two children to care for after losing all her possessions and being forced to leave LA, she becomes the one for whom people sympathize. When she comes back to Dallas, however, the history of her reputation as “queen bee” comes out.

No one character in the show has better lines than another. The directors’ casting of the typical Christian “do-gooders” was very well done. Kristin Chenoweth, who plays Carlene Cockburn, seems a surprising choice but is the perfect actress for a good Christian Dallas girl and the new queen bee of Dallas. We quickly learn that some of the show’s other important characters—Sharon Peachman (Jennifer Aspen), Cricket Caruth-Reily, (Miriam Shor) and Heather Cruz (Marisol Nicholas)—were all victims of Amanda Vaughn in high school. This new fact removes some of the initial sympathy. Amanda Vaughn’s character, however, later falls back into our favor when she begins to attempt to repair the tarnished relationships.

The back and forth between these previous enemies is reminiscent of the drama between the married women on “Desperate Housewives.” The show is also reminiscent of “The Stepford Wives” in the sense that all of the women seem to be identical on the surface: Christian and rich, as we are told they should be. Bibb’s character seems to return to her previous status in society in Dallas, as Aspen, Shor, Chenoweth and Nicholas’ jealousy snaps when the men begin to fawn over her.

This is when it becomes a show for a larger audience to appreciate than that which watched “The Stepford Wives” and “Desperate Housewives.” The show grabs the teenage audience and appeals to them with the drama that brews between the women and the ideal lives that these women lead, lives that teens can only imagine for themselves.

The fact that, as usual, the men involved in the show are all good looking is also a pull for viewers. Beauty is appreciated in audiences now, whether it is in the characters or in the setting, which in this case involves mansions, high-end retail stores like Neiman Marcus and expensive cars like BMWs.

There is also a sense of humor to the show as the four other women try to figure out who has been helping Bibb’s character fall right back into the folds of their exclusive society. The gossip that is exchanged between them and their antics around Bibb’s character are entertaining to watch and spice up what would otherwise be a drama-filled story of a widow.

The other character that viewers will most likely develop a love-hate relationship with is Amanda’s mother Gigi Stooper (Annie Potts). The character does everything she can upon Amanda’s arrival to push Amanda and her children back into the wealthy life that they had left. The relationship between Gigi and Amanda at this point seems unclear, as there are moments when you see both love and hate.

Though “GCB” could be considered very similar to what is already on television, the fact that it appeals to most ages and that the content is familiar to the watchers of “Desperate Housewives” allows it to stand out. The moments of humor are properly queued and allow the viewers to stay engaged. It also gives the viewer the feeling of anger when they miss one instant of an episode, a factor lacking in many shows currently on the air.

“GCB” has all the perfect components. It has the right setting, the right characters and the right amount of plot twists, many of which occur in the very first episode, which is already moving the show along at a nice speed. The pilot episode was successful because it allowed me to learn the basic premise of the show and made me want to keep watching. It offered characters I have already come to care about.

The humor of the show is also a big plus. With characters that all feel as if they are the only individuals who matter, it is expected to experience a lot of backstabbing. It will be important to the viewers to have the humor, so that the antics will come up as more funny than vindictive. “GCB” portrays the wealthy lives of Dallas’ high society women. It is an engaging and entertaining show that never fails to humor you from the first minute to the last.