ABC's much-hyped new series, the timidly titled GCB, finally premieres Sunday night after Desperate Housewives. That time slot is no coincidence. By all accounts, ABC is hoping that the new show — based on the novel Good Christian Bitches, about gossipmongering Bible thumpers in Texas who talk the godly talk but don't necessarily walk the godly walk — will enjoy the same runaway success as Housewives, which is ending this year after eight seasons. The two shows have much in common: Saucy female characters, biting one-liners, and soapy story lines (in GCB, a former Dallas mean girl returns to her hometown after her husband's scandalous death, facing the wrath of the cliquey girls she once tormented). But is GCB as good as Housewives was when it burst onto the scene and racked up awards in its first few seasons?
Not even close: ABC couldn't be less shy about its intention to turn GCB into the next Desperate Housewives, says Verne Gay at Newsday. But while the latter was addictively scandalous, GCB is "scandalously dull." Aside from aggressively driving home the point that these women are Gucci-wearing, Bible-thumping hypocrites, the show is "only intermittently sharp or funny." Even then, the laughs can all be attributed to the expertly wry Annie Potts, who "steals every scene that she's in like an accomplished thief."
"Review GCB: Loving Jesus, Gucci and payback"
But that won't matter: "For people looking for the next Housewives, GCB could be the perfect replacement," says Tim Goodman at The Hollywood Reporter. And thanks to buzz surrounding the show's name and religious subject matter, it might just come out of the gate strong. For better or worse, GCB relishes its broad, brazen comedy "in that high-gloss caricature way that seems to create hits." Nothing here is subtle. The sex jokes are over the top, the Bible-quoting is relentless, and most characters are shameless stereotypes. All of which should go down easily with the millions who've been lapping up a similar formula on Housewives for eight seasons.
"GCB: TV review"
It's a missed opportunity: Like its "ludicrous title," says Chuck Barney at the Contra Costa Times, GCB plays it too safe. The show was originally called Good Christian Bitches, like the juicy book it's based on, but ABC settled on the vague GCB to avoid offense. Similarly, the show itself had the chance "to deliver some sharp commentary about religious hypocrisy and America's cultural divide," but instead serves up watered-down faux outrageousness. It strenuously tries to replicate the caustic humor and "melodramatic guilty pleasures of Desperate Housewives," but never quite gets there.
"ABC plays it safe with caustic GCB"