Gaudy 'GCB' good trashy fun

ALASTAIR PAULIN
Last updated 15:01 18/05/2012
GCB
SYRUPY: GCB set in high-gloss American primetime soap opera land, sparked moral outrage.

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The GC or GCB? If you're confused about the debut of two similar sounding shows in recent weeks, I've designed a little quiz to help sort them out.

Which one ignited a political firestorm because of its provocative name, and later changed it?

Which one ignited a political firestorm because of its use of taxpayer money, and later changed its name?

GCB was originally titled Good Christian Bitches, after the book – by a Christian author of the same name, but was forced to change it (to Good Christian Belles, and later, to the even tamer GCB) because of outrage from moral majority lobbying groups. Former United States presidential candidate Newt Gingrich called it an example of "elite media bias".

The GC attracted flak for pulling in $419,000 of taxpayer-funded NZ On Air support, back when it was called Golden Mozzies. Broadcaster Mike Hosking called it "the most appalling, low-rent, pointless piece of televisual crap I have ever seen in my life".

The GC supposedly refers to the Gold Coast but people on the Gold Coast say no-one refers to it that way. A fun party game is coming up with alternative titles for those initials. I'm going with The Great Cringe for now but welcome your suggestions.

Which one is good trashy fun, and which one is just trash?

Which one is scripted and which one is "reality" television?

OK, that last question was a trick, because despite The GC's purporting to be reality television, it sounds poorly scripted, with the most wooden acting ever seen on Kiwi productions.

To make up for the trick question, here's a final easy one: Which one has been called an embarrassment to Christians and which one has been called an embarrassment to New Zealanders?

GCB desperately wants to be the new Desperate Housewives. It follows Amanda Vaughn's return to her hometown of Dallas, 18 years after she left high school where she was the "queen of mean".

Life has softened her, and she returns to live with her overbearing mother after her Ponzi-scheme-running husband dies in a salacious car accident with his mistress.

So we're in high-gloss American primetime soap opera land here, and to magnify that formula, we're in Texas. The hair is big, the outfits gaudy and the accents syrupy.

Amanda's place as queen bitch has been taken over by her neighbour Charlene, played by Broadway actress Kristin Chenoweth with scene-chewing relish. She leads the posse of women who all have reason to feel slighted by Amanda from their high school days. She's moved on; they haven't.

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A former ugly duckling, Charlene has "had a little work done" confides Amanda's mother, Gigi.

"A little work done? That's a tear-down!" retorts Amanda.

Those types of zingers are a little forced but most of them fall to Gigi, played by Annie Potts, ex-Designing Women, who is easily the best thing about the show so far. She's a pistol – scheming, manipulative and clearly having a lot of fun with her role.

Telling Amanda she must go to the society event, the Longhorn Ball, she says: "If you don't put it in the window, how will anyone know it's for sale?"

"Mother, I am not a heifer!" replies Amanda.

"Exactly, you're too old to be a heifer!"

The show is supposedly taking aim at the hypocrisy of these jealous, petty women who claim the moral high ground from their pews at a wealthy Dallas church. But mostly the show seems content to wallow in the muck more than critique it in any meaningful way.

That's OK. It really is good trashy fun – while it lasts. GCB has been cancelled after just 10 episodes. As for its almost identically named Kiwi cuzzie – we should be so lucky.

COMING SOON:  Necessary Roughness has been slotted into TV2's schedule at 9.30pm on Tuesdays and they are now running promos for the series. Tough and sexy Callie Thorn, last seen here as Denis Leary's mistress on Rescue Me, finally gets top billing as a psychologist who becomes a therapist for a professional football team and quickly becomes the go-to fix-it person for troubled stars from many professions. -

- © Fairfax NZ News

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