Goodbye bitches and/or belles

This week ABC announced they were canceling the TV series GCB after ten episodes. You may wonder why I’m bothering to blog about a TV comedy when the President is about to declare a war on faith and marry homosexuals during a prime time press conference, but the show stirred up quite a controversy after its release. This controversy may have caused it to be cancelled when other shows with lower ratings made the cut.

Okay, it was only two shows, and one of them Body of Proof only cratered after following a Tuesday night series with even worse ratings. But crater it did.

The series was originally titled Good Christian Bitches after the book it was based on. Then, wisely sensing that the title might inflame the Christian right far more than it did when the book of the same title languished in the publisher’s mid lists where fewer people would notice it, ABC renamed it Good Christian Belles. But that name sounded sexist, so they settled for GCB.

Once they realized that no one would get the title “GCB” ABC started an ad campaign hinting that the “B” word rhymed with “witches” and “riches.” Finally they launched another b-word series called Don’t Trust the B in Apartment 23 to make sure we would make the connection.

GCB and the book are the story of Amanda Vaughn, a young Christian mother who divorced her husband after years of infidelity and fraudulent business and moved back with her mother in the wealthy Highland Park area of Dallas. After the move, however, she discovers that the members of her church aren’t quite as forgiving as Jesus. Quite the contrary, they launch a campaign to belittle and humiliate her.

The author, Kim Gatlin, ends the book with Amanda realizing she can be just as judgmental as the women who persecute her. But she can console herself with the fact that she never treated the other girls as badly as they treated her. The Christian bitches in this book live up to their names in every sense of the word.

Not so, the bitches in the television show. In fact even the worst of the lot, Kristin Chenoweth’s character, Carlene Cockburn, is remarkably sympathetic. Crazy as a loon, but still sympathetic. Unfortunately for ABC, the characters also include a closeted gay businessman and adulteress and a would be adulterer. We all now that no such characters would exist among real Christians in real Christian churches.

From the beginning, however, GCB became a target of the Christian right, and I can’t help but thinking this outrage (or posturing) had a lot to do with the show’s cancellation. One Million Moms boycotted the show and, together with groups such as the National Prayer Network, they successfully persuaded major advertisers such as Kraft, Pepsi, Huggies, Progressive and BareEscentuals to drop the show.

The invective was a hateful as it gets. Truthseekers.com called it a Jewish hate crime against Christians . The evidence being the fact that GCB was a “Jewish Disney/ABC” production. I guess the Jewish label belongs to Michael Eisner, and Roy and Walt Disney were famous Jewish conspirators whom we all know plotted to subvert the minds of American youth and convince them to undergo circumcisions and mitzvahs.1

It gets better. Legalize Jesus called GCB “Christophobia” and demanded that readers “BOYCOTT ABC over their new blasphemous TV show CGB…. (and) the liberal secular progressive Christ-hating mob.” Okay, maybe that’s not better.

I hate to say it, but it seems that the only real nastiness is coming from the critics. Sure, the show portrays the Christians in Highland Park’s churches as vain, gossiping and back stabbing. Being raised Baptist Preacher’s Kid (BPK), I didn’t see anything that sounded out of character with churches where my Dad worked. Or the churches I joined as an adult.

The characters may have been over the top, but by the last episode viewers realized just about every character was well meaning, if not flawed and vain. Did they compete for recognition in their church? Yes. Did they conspire to get one up on each other? Yes. Did they pack guns? Absolutely, but in Texas you can’t love Jesus if you don’t join the NRA.

Personally, I think a lot of Christians jumped the gun on judgment. Had they waited the season out they might have discovered the series didn’t portray Christians in a negative light. Certainly not as negative as many Christians manage to portray themselves.

But I really don’t get the bellyaching. Aren’t Christians supposed to be mocked and criticized? If they aren’t, doesn’t that mean they aren’t doing a good job for Jesus? Let’s take a paragraph to recall the Sermon on the mount:

“Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
-Matthew 5:11-13 (KJV)”

That sounds to me like Christians who aren’t being persecuted aren’t doing their job. The religious right is whining about perceived persecution when they should be embracing it. Jesus said Christians are blessed when they’re persecuted. GCB should be one of God’s blessings by their own thinking.

But can’t we turn this back on the producers of GCB? The fact that so many Americans want to revile, persecute and falsely accuse them of Jewish hate speech and Christophobia, suggests to me that their salt that hasn’t lost its savor. It really stirred things up.

Personally, I’d be happy to see the show back. I even signed a petition at Save GCB.

And how does Jesus feel about all this? I doubt it’s a blip on his radar. And there will be other shows, and better shows. The world is not about TV. Especially when no one’s forcing us or even our children to watch it.


1If you check the links you will notice how all of these groups have “truth” in their domain names. back

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