Pilot Review: GCB 1×01

GCB, as its title finally wound up, was one of my most highly-anticipated mid-season freshman shows for 2012. Though I’m not a fan of Desperate Housewives nor any of the Bravo franchises, each trailer still kept me hopeful. Before we begin, though, I should admit that the reason I was looking forward to this was that I grew up in Oklahoma City (which is due north of Dallas by about four hours, for those of you geographically-challenged). Though it’s a more toned-down version of the GCB world, I’m not going to say that this show oversteps its bounds by too much. All the same, I’m not sure that being a good parody of Texas and Big Oil will make this a good show.

Plot overview: Amanda Vaughn (Leslie Bibb), daughter of high society in Dallas, has moved herself and her two teenage children back in with her mother Gigi Stopper (Annie Potts) after her husband died in a car wreck while escaping from the mess of his unveiled Ponzi scheme. However, life at home isn’t as rejuvenating as she had hoped, since we learn she was the Regina George of her high school, most of whom still live in the same town and have since created their own clique. Amanda thinks she’s grown up, but they aren’t so sure, and the four ladies who now run the town (Kristin Chenoweth, Jennifer Aspen, Marisol Nichols, Miriam Shor) have circled their wagons to make sure Amanda isn’t back for round two. Meanwhile, Amanda keeps getting lavish gifts from a secret admirer, who turned out to be her mother. As she settles back in at home, Amanda starts to learn who’s changed since she left – but more importantly, who hasn’t.

Yes, it’s a bit over-the-top, and no, it isn’t completely realistic (come on, it’s television), but at the same time, there were parts that really felt true to me. First, the fierce family loyalty – I can see Amanda’s mom pulling out her figurative (or as we’ll see, literal) guns to protect her and her children, especially as the gossip lingers. Because, and trust me on this, gossip doesn’t go away in communities like that. Anyone who’s seen a soap drama knows that. But where some shows would have family selling out family, I think GCB will hit it on the head with the mafia mentality of family first.

Something I’ve heard a bit of grumbling about is the outfits. Y’all, Texas can get gaudy. No, not every part of it, but serious beading, blending colors, all of that, reminds me of Texas. Big Oil Culture can get pretty ridiculous, and I look forward to seeing how they do it. No, people aren’t always sporting cowboy hats, but, uh, it’s more often than you’d think. Texas Fashion takes itself quite seriously, and this episode was no disappointment. Big prints, big jewelry, big hair – you know what they say about Texas, don’t you? Everything is bigger, even if they have to make it that way themselves.

What sets GCB apart from other shows of its kind, though, is the blatant premise of hypocrisy in religion. It seems like every soap drama has a hypocritical religious character, but that’s one of the foundations of this entire show. And, you know, I’m not going to say that this is definitely not how things are. Yes, there are plenty of truly pious people in Texas – don’t get me wrong. But in the Midwest, especially in Texas, going to church is an assumed way of life – in fact, having some sort of Christian-based faith is so overwhelmingly widespread that if someone doesn’t, he or she is potentially under suspicion of not being a good person. The fact that these women were able to recall scripture from memory while twisting it to their own purposes was not at all surprising to me. And if we’re talking about the potentially more serious aspects of GCB, this is something the show is making fun of, and I don’t see people taking this well. I think it’s something that needs to be looked at, and while I probably wouldn’t have picked a show like GCB to broadcast that message, I think it’s a small part of something bigger. At the least, it has the potential to get people talking about it.

Things I wasn’t impressed by:

  • Gigi, Amanda’s mom, being the source of the gifts.
  • The fact that the gift-giving mystery is dead.
  • Men can’t seem to keep themselves away from Amanda. Is she really that appealing?
  • There were no horses present. If you’re going to parody Texas, parody Texas.
  • Was it really a whole bunch of white people? Seriously?
  • I have a fever, and the only cure is more “y’all.” No, but really, that’s actually a thing people say all the time in Texas. It’s okay to write it into your script.
  • More things I can’t remember now, but trust, there were more.

Do I expect GCB to be more than a Desperate Housewives replacement? Not really. It’s going to be fun while it lasts, and I know I’ll enjoy having a good laugh. It didn’t premier as well as hoped, opening only to 7.6 million and 2.2 in the demo, but it was cute enough that I could see it getting better ratings as it goes. It’ll have to get much more dramatic than “white girls get their feelings hurt and clutched their pearls about it” to stay on the air, though. Even Desperate Housewives started with a murder, right? As they say, everything is bigger in Texas – but in this case, not necessarily better.

All in all, I wasn’t too impressed. It was mildly funny, mildly pointed, and if the best thing I can say is that it might spark political controversy once we stop talking about how funny their clothes were, then…well, that’s not very good. After a slew of excellent freshman shows, including the most recent Awake from NBC, I’m sad to say that GCB may go down PDQ. I’m trying to give it a chance, but I just can’t say I’m decided either way at this point – and that’s usually not a hard decision for me.

All the same, though, if you grab the bull by the tail, don’t be surprised if you get a pretty quick visit from the horns.

Did you watch GCB? What did you think?

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About Bailey

I'm a writer and a feminist. I read a lot of books and I watch a lot of television.

2 Responses to “Pilot Review: GCB 1×01”

  1. Just another example of Hollywood (or whoever) stereotyping Christians in a negative way. I’m not impressed.

    • I’m not saying I disagree, but I also didn’t think it was an unfair representation of Big Texas, either. Of course, I haven’t seen anything beyond the pilot, so that’s all I can speak for.

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