GCB | TV Review

With Desperate Housewives signing off at the end of this season, ABC appears anxious to fill the void and it seems they've found their show with GCB. With all the perfectly coiffed, wealthy bitches with too much time on their hands, it's a wonder they didn't just name it Desperate Housewives of Dallas. Based on a book by Kim Gatlin, GCB's plot bears some significant resemblances to the 1998 Sandra Bullock film Hope Floats, filling out the rest with cartoonish and compassion-less antagonists that are, at their best, shrill.

When Amanda's (Leslie Bibb) Ponzi-scheming husband dies in a car accident while getting fellatio from her best friend, the widow returns home to Dallas with her teenage kids to live with her mother, Gigi (Annie Potts). The trouble is, prior to her departure, Amanda burned a lot of bridges in her hometown. Former high school classmates Carlene (Kristen Chenoweth), Sharon (Jennifer Aspen), Cricket (Miriam Shor) and Heather (Marisol Nichols) all have past grudges against the former mean girl and while they may preach forgiveness when they go to church on Sundays, they're not looking to practice it. While Amanda would prefer to just find a job and get her children settled in so they can get over their personal tragedy, the new crew of she-devils are determined to run her out of town by any means possible.

While GCB seems to think its band of harpies is cute and funny, they just come off as petty and horribly mean-spirited. There's nothing entertaining about watching these ladies try to destroy a woman's life while exhibiting no regard for the collateral damage. Carlene, the ring-leader, seems to have little care for how Amanda's children might suffer from her actions and, in the second episode, has similar disregard for her target's co-workers, who also become negatively impacted by the bullying. Additionally, Bibb's Amanda is an incredibly dull character. While we're told a lot about how terrible she used to be when she was younger and we see how "aw-shucks" nice she is now, there's no indication of the journey that lead her there. Everything we know about Amanda is told to us and very rarely shown. How did this former high school bitch come down to Earth? GCB doesn't seem interested in exploring this. It would rather drag Amanda through the ringer, daring her into the games of competitive Christianity that her rivals want to play. It's not fun, it's just oppressively unpleasant.

GCB premiere Sunday 9pm on ABC.

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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)