Are you watching “GCB”? Because if you’re not, get your butt in front of a streaming or DVR device of your device and hop to it. You’re not too far behind, so you don’t have much to catch up with, and you won’t regret it.
It will only take a few hours to turn you into a convert, unless you have no sense of humor and an appalling taste in television1. This show is turning into the highlight of my week for its sheer frothy delightfulness, and I can’t be the only one. Well, okay, the ratings are slipped a bit between the premiere and subsequent episodes so maybe I’m among a dwindling number2 but you know what? WATCH IT ANYWAY. Because I say so. Madeline does too!
Normally I’m not all that into comedy shows in general; I’ve given them a thorough try and there’s just something about the genre that usually doesn’t work for me as a general rule. They try too hard to make me laugh, or employ humor that isn’t to my taste, or make references that I don’t really get, and thus I end up losing interest fast. Darlings like “Community” and “30 Rock” just don’t grip me all that much. I have accepted the fact that comedy is usually not for me, just like “The Hunger Games” are not for Lesley. It’s okay.
And it’s not blanket genre hate or anything, it’s just kind of a thing, with me, that comedy is unlikely to work in my world. This probably makes me sound a bit snobby, but it’s an accusation I’m used to hearing at this point. Sorry, comedy fans; it’s not you, it’s not me. Really, I swear.
“GCB” is a deep satire, though, and this is the kind of comedy I can get into; many parts remind me of “Arrested Development,” one of the few comedies I was able to get interested in. It doesn’t escape me that both shows also have embedded class commentary, which is something pretty much guaranteed to endear me. The characters are larger than life and ridiculous and overblown, but there’s also a core of truth to them; in this case, “GCB” is poking fun at upper middle class evangelical Christian culture in Texas, but I think it’s doing so in a fun and self-aware way.
It has in fact been criticized for this by folks who are offended by it and read the show’s depiction of Christianity as harmful. Not being Christian, I’m not really in a position to speak to that, but I do note that the show’s deep satire is designed to point out hypocrisy more than to poke fun at Christianity; I don’t read the message as “evangelical Christians are bad people” or “Christianity makes people hypocrites” but rather a depiction of people who happen to be Christians. The problem isn’t the underlying faith of the characters, but the fact that their professed faith doesn’t match with their actions.
The Good Christian Bitches (as the show was originally known, referencing the book it was based on) talk the G-d talk when they’re in public, but they’re schemers in private. They take each other down, plot the downfall of Amanda (Leslie Bibb), the lead character, and definitely indulge in some of the Seven Deadlies, like greed and lust. As Kristin Chenoweth, one of the big name stars of the show, puts it, “The thing is, just because you’re a Christian doesn’t mean you’re perfect.”
This is not a show about how evangelical Christians are evil; Chenoweth herself is Christian and has firmly stated she she won’t work on productions that denigrate her faith. It’s a show about humanity, and the ridiculous and cruel things people will do, and it’s set in a specific insular subculture that is absolutely fascinating to watch at work. It’s why I keep coming back for “GCB” each week; not only is it hilarious in many parts, but it’s also about a world that is utterly unfamiliar to me and it’s like taking a field trip to an unknown land.
These characters are mired in shenanigans, high school rivalries that refuse to die, lust for vengeance, greed, and some good old fashioned sexual hijinks. From Cricket (Miriam Shor) and Blake’s (Mark Deklin) white marriage to Gigi’s (Annie Potts) over-the-top personality (I mean really, who hasn’t thought of ordering a truckload of clothes from Neiman’s?), I’m starting to love everyone on the show, including Carlene (Chenoweth), the antagonist. They’ve got personalities and they’re fun and they’re also very, very human and that makes me want to keep watching.
“GCB” isn’t setting out to make any sort of grand social commentary. It just wants to have fun, and so far, it seems to be doing so. It’s not what I would call high art or amazing television, the kind of show that’s going to spark discussion and derivative works and excitement for years to come, but it is just fun, and I have to admit, I get excited when I check Hulu on Monday mornings and there’s a new episode. Because sometimes, you just need a little fun in your life.
1. KIDDING. I made a funny! Everyone calm down. Return
2. s.e.’s law of television shows: If I like it, it will be canceled within two seasons. If you have a good show that you want to save, hide its existence from me until it’s well and truly finished with its run, and then let me watch the DVDs. Return