Belles ring in with new GCB,
‘Nobody wants to watch normal,’ says Steel Magnolias writer about his new TV series GCB
The new TV series GCB is an old-time soap opera, warmed over and freshened up for a modern-day audience, says Alabama playwright and Steel Magnolias writer Robert Harling. Think Desperate Housewives, set in Dallas, with Southern belles behaving like the good Christian beauties they are — when they’re not bickering, feuding and gossiping, that is.
GCB, originally titled Good Christian Belles — and a less flattering “B” word before that — sets out to prove that you can go home again, but only if you’re ready to face the sins of your past.
GCB premieres tonight on CTV and ABC, following — what else? — Desperate Housewives. GCB stars Leslie Bibb as Amanda Vaughn, the mean girl everyone learned to hate in high school, who returns, unwanted and unloved, to the community she grew up in. The supporting ensemble
DAVID JAMES ELLIOTT, cast member of GCB, on the characters in the series
includes Kristin Chenoweth, Annie Potts, Miriam Shor and Marisol Nichols as various and sundry Dallas socialites, and Canadian David James Elliott as Chenoweth’s character’s husband and ball-and-chain.
“We all love complicated, interesting characters,” Harling told reporters last month, in Los Angeles. “Nobody wants to watch normal. I think I’m normal. Nobody wants to watch me on TV.”
The good Christian belle and reformed mean girl is merely a jumping-off character for GCB’S soapy tales of backstabbing and extracurricular nighttime activities. It’s a starting point virtually everyone can relate to, though, according to Bibb.
“High school is awful,” Bibb said. “Hollywood is like high school, but with more money. High school is an awful time. When you’re in high school, you’re just trying to keep your head above water, and everybody is just trying to swim.
“It’s like a shark tank. My character, Amanda, as an adult who’s 35, is looking back, and everything’s being slapped in her face. People are telling her, ‘You were awful, you did this, you did that,’ and she’s like, ‘I was just in high school.’ She’s facing this constant realization of who she used to be.”
Elliott, a veteran of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival who played navy lawyer Harmon Rabb, Jr., for 10 seasons in the series JAG, says GCB is a multi-dimensional comedy with seemingly onedimensional characters who are deeper than they seem.
“Everybody has a face they put on when they present themselves to the world,” Elliott explained. “These are real people, and they’re fallible, like all of us. They’re put in these wild, crazy scenarios, and it’s just really funny. (The story) has a wonderful sense of humanity.”
Harling insists GCB is a different show from Desperate Housewives, but he’s not averse to obvious comparisons.
“Everyone says write about what you know,” Harling said. “I know this world very, very well. What we’ve tried to do is create a story about a group of women.
“To be compared to Desperate Housewives, a show that’s one of the biggest hits in the history of television that has maintained its particular point-of-view and wit for eight years, is flattering. I would love to eventually be compared to that.
“Right now, though, if you look at the two shows, the dynamic of Wisteria Lane and Desperate Housewives is universal. It could be happening anywhere, whereas this show is more specific to a time and place.”
‘These are real people, and they’re fallible, like all of us. They’re put in these wild, crazy scenarios, and it’s just really funny. (The story) has a wonderful sense of humanity.’