“GCB” will offend neither Christians nor bitches. The stars and creator of the show formerly known as both “Good Christian Bitches” and “Good Christian Belles” are confident that the comedic soap opera, which tackles television’s third rail, religion, will be embraced by the Texas Baptists that it chronicles. Said the show’s executive producer, Robert Harling at TCA on Tuesday, “There’s no possibility of Christianity not being treated with respect. If you do a cop show, the precinct is the cernter. We’re doing a show where the church is the center. A church is sacred. There are rules.”
The show boasts one of the most powerhouse female ensembles since the classic film “Steel Magnolias,” which was also written by Harling. Kristen Chenoweth and Annie Potts are joined by Leslie Bibb (“Popular”), Miriam Schor (“Swingtown“) and Marisol Nichols (“24“). They play a group of churchgoing, gossipy Dallas women whose guns are as big as their hair. Bibb plays Amanda, a former high school mean girl, who returns to her hometown after her husband dies and finds herself dealing with the fierce, grown up versions of the frenemies she used to torment.
As to which of the female characters are the titular bitches, Bibb said, “They all have moments of bitchiness… What ends up happening on the show is we all test each other. Being a bitch is based on being scared, so you just put up this wall. Everyone has a really beautiful, delicious moment of being bitchy and a great moment of redemption.”
Said Nichols, “My character, [Heather], would probably say that Carlene [Chenoweth] as much as she loves her, is definitely the queen bitch.” She admitted her character becomes bitchier over the course of the season.”Heather gets picked on the most, and doesn’t stand up for herself until Amanda comes into town and she can go after Carlene. The bitchiest thing that she has done so far. She isn’t so bitchy at the beginning and then she comes into her own.”
The show, which premieres Sunday, March 4th at 10/9c, has been compared to its lead-in “Desperate Housewives,” but the stars insist that it’s a very different take on women’s lives. Said Bibb, “Nobody writes for Southern women they way Bobby Harling does.” Harling explains, “The fabulous thing about “Desperate Housewives” is it’s sort of universal and Wisteria Lane, the dynamic could be happening everywhere… Our world could only take place in Texas, and only in Dallas, and only in a particular area of Dallas.”
Chenoweth, a native Oklahoman explained that all of the South is not alike, ” Everyone knows Oklahoma women are nicer than Texas women.”
Potts elaborated on the show’s unique flavor. “”If you like “Designing Women,” you’re going to love this. I think there are a lot of comparisons. There are some of us who are really sweet, and some of us were a little naughtier. Southern women are broad and vital and funny and fierce. Bobby corrals all that and makes an astonishing, flavorful chili.”
Harling views the show, which is based on a bestselling novel by Kim Gatlin, as an affectionate salute to his native Texas. “I don’t think it’s a send up at all. I would like to think it’s a love letter. This is where I live. The great thing about Texas people is they get the joke. They understand that they are larger than life and they love that… No self-respecting Dallas woman leaves the house unless she looks like she’s going somewhere.”