Take a bit of Designing Women, add a touch of Desperate Housewives, mix in just a hint of Dallas, send everyone to church, and you have something of the idea of GCB. After a failed marriage, Amanda Vaughn returns to Dallas with her children to live with her mother. Amanda left lots of enemies when she left Dallas. In high school, she was the top of the food chain. She was the one who stole boyfriends. She ridiculed those beneath her (which she figured was about everyone). Now, all those people have established lives and she has nothing. How will they all get along after all these years – and when they go to church together? Revenge? Is that how good Christian people act?
First of all, let’s deal with the name. The show is based on the book Good Christian Bitches by Kim Gatlin. ABC is reluctant to use the word “bitch” in a title on broadcast TV. (They have another show coming in a few months called Don’t Trust the B—- in Apt. 23. Here again they aren’t comfortable with the word.) They’ve played around with titles for the show. Officially, according to ABC Entertainment Group President Paul Lee, GCB stands for “Good Christian Belles.” Executive Producer Robert Harling spoke of the name at a recent press tour, saying, “And so the idea of calling it ‘Good Christian Bitches’ was sort of not something that seemed to settle at first. Then, ‘Good Christian Belles’ sort of popped up. But when we were shooting the pilot in Dallas, everywhere we went—you know, when you shoot things, there’s all these signs that say the trucks go this way, the talent goes this way, and it was always—they’d come up with this GCB logo, and I always looked at it and thought that’s really cool, like LOL and ROLF and BTW, so—really.”
Obviously, this show may be a bit controversial with some Christians. At the press tour, Lee spoke a bit about the show and its attitude toward religion: “You know, the show, it’s actually very pro-religion, but it looks at hypocrisy, which is, by the way, a tradition that goes back tens of hundreds of years. In the end, it’s really a soap opera about these amazing Texan women and their big attitudes and big hair and big shoes, and it’s more about that than anything else. Certainly it deals with hypocrisy, which is a great subject for comedy.”
During the Q&A with the GCB cast and producers, I got a chance to ask a question: “There is a segment in Christianity who distrusts Hollywood and are probably going to assume that you’re going to ridicule them. What reassurances do you have that you are treating this with respect?” Harling responded: “There’s no possibility of it not being treated with respect. My cohorts, my partners in crime, these fabulous executive producers, Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts, are—they’re the heart and soul of this show. Even Aaron’s father is the Reverend Steve Harberts. So in‑house we have a consultant that we call a lot of times just to make sure we’re getting it right. I was speaking with Gretchen, and I wish—she’s so much more eloquent about this, but it’s—in looking at this show and the—if you do a cop show, the precinct is the center. If you do a medical show, the emergency room is the center. We’re doing a show where the church is the center. And a church is sacred. The ER, the whatever—a church is sacred. There are rules. And you have to be respectful of that rule—of those rules. Even if it’s a temple or a mosque or whatever, you have to be—you have to be aware and respectful of faith systems. And, you know, the joy of it is watching these people try to function within these rules. And the rules remain the same. The respect for the faith remains the same. The fun is all of us, because God knows I try—even—I even try harder, now that we’re all working in this wonderful environment, but the goal is to watch people try to be good. I know I screw up all the time. And sometimes it’s funny. Sometimes it’s sad. Aaron Harberts, our producer, says this show – ‘Well, you laugh and you laugh until you don’t,’ because there’s always the emotion. There’s always the reality that underpins this humor of these wonderful characters. So I’m babbling on and on and on and on, but basically what I want to emphasize is that we will never ever look at this in any other way other than the most respectful way possible. Now, it may be funny. We’re going to go out there, but—in fact, we have table reads, and people say, ‘Are we really going to do this?’ And it’s like, ‘Yeah, yeah, we’re going to do it.’ And God love these people, they do it. God love ABC, who says, ‘Go for it.’ But within those parameters, we will never ever, ever be disrespectful.”