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GCB (ABC) - Series Premiere: Synopsis and Review

Updated on April 21, 2013

ABC’s ‘GCB’ premiered on Sunday March 4th, at 10/9c.It revolves around Amanda (Leslie Bibb, ‘Popular’), whose husband attempted to run away with his mistress (who also happened to be Amanda’s best friend) and a lot of money. They did not succeed in their endeavor however, due to some bad steering on his part after an attempt to help him relax on her part. Nudge nudge, wink wink. Let’s just say; letting go of the steering wheel isn’t a very good idea when you’re flooring your car.

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After his demise Amanda learns her husband wasn’t quite the angel at work either when federal agents seize and raid her house for everything valuable. She now has no home and there is an investigation being conducted in relation to her late-husband’s activities, so all her assets are frozen as well. She has but one option left: take her children and go back to Dallas to live with her mother.

Once back with mother, with whom she doesn’t have the easiest relationship, she reconnects with her old high-school ‘friends’, portrayed by Kristin Chenoweth (‘The West Wing’), Jennifer Aspen (‘Glee’), Marisol Nichols (‘24’) and Miriam Shor. As soon as she moves in the girls call each other, and it’s clear they’re not happy about her being back. Apparently she was quite the ‘biatch‘ during her teenage years, and the girls haven’t forgotten about it. Amanda now has to build up her life again, find a job and a new home, while living with her mother and facing the women who just don’t believe she’s changed since her teen-years.

I have to say, I started watching this show with a bit of a prejudice. I’m not a fan of the mean high school girl who spreads rumors and steals boyfriends. It’s a moral thing I guess, but either way; I found it hard to pity Amanda when her husband died. It doesn’t help that she’s apparently always had a privileged life, with huge houses to live in and enough money to buy whatever she wants, and that she doesn’t seem to be grieving over her husband at all. (Sure, he was a bad person, but I’m assuming she loved him, whether she likes it or not.) It’s no surprise that I agreed with the church sign: you reap what you sow. Or in other words: karma, baby.

Now, I realise people do change, and I guess having a former mean girl be in forced contact with her former victims makes a good format for a series, but they haven’t really done it properly. Amanda keeps on saying that she’s changed, and she does say sorry a few times, but she doesn’t really seem to mean it. It seems she just wants everyone to get over the past. Now, this may be easy for her to do, but when someone spreads the rumor you have herpes, like Amanda did with Cricket, you don’t forget easily. When it comes to solid back stories, the old school girls with a grudge are far more believable than the Amanda character. Furthermore, the show’s trying really hard to make Amanda the good guy in all of this. Now like I said, I might be a bit prejudiced, and it’s probably hard on her being in this situation (although I really sensed a huge lack of grievance on her part), but in my opinion Amanda isn’t realising what an impact her actions had on her victims.

It won’t surprise you to hear that the show isn’t really my cup of tea up until now. However, if you just forget Amanda’s history, it all makes more sense and the series is actually enjoyable. ‘GCB’ has been compared to ‘Desperate Housewives’ and I’m sorry to say this isn’t really like ‘Desperate Housewives’ at all. However, I do see the two shows pulling in the same type of audience. Also, Kristin Chenoweth is genius as Carlene Cockburn and I really felt like she was carrying the entire story.

Concluding I do have to say this show is worth the watch, because I expect the Amanda character to develop more. I suspect they will show some more background to her life, perhaps showing what made her change or what really was her reason to be so mean as a teenager. They’ll have to do it fast however, because this bad girl gone good angle needs something to support it.

What did you think of 'GCB'?

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    • Robin Oatley profile imageAUTHOR

      Robin Oatley 

      6 years ago

      Hi Dragonflyb! You make some very valid points, and I do agree with your view on not living in the past (especially high school). But that is what I would expect from someone in real life. And let's face it; TV series are everything but real life. In TV series you need a lot of explanation and background stories to understand the characters. So when you have a character like Amanda, I'd expect to find a lot of emphasis on her inner struggle, so one would understand where she's coming from. They didn't show any of that however. True, they revealed she is a recovering alcoholic, but this was merely a short mentioning. (As for her not so supporting 'friends', it wouldn't really fit their characters if they cared enough about her to acknowledge this I suppose.)

      In my eyes, the show really lacked small confirmations that would make the impact of these things more intense. They could for instance add something as simple as a shot of Amanda sighing while putting away a morning paper with the death of her husband on the front page, or a longing look at a bottle of wine when she’s confronted with people judging her. A subtle but nonetheless noticeable confirmation of her struggles.

      Maybe my expectations were set too high, but if a show like 'Desperate Housewives' can provide a strong emotional background for their main characters in only one episode, why can't GCB do the same? I feel like I know a lot more about the motives of the (so called) Christian high school 'friends' than I do about Amanda. I guess what I'm trying to say is: subtlety in a TV series should still be somewhat over the top. When it's actually subtle, it doesn't have enough impact, especially when you have other extreme characters like this show does. It just gets overshadowed by everything else. However, I do still suspect bits and pieces of information about Amanda to emerge this season, which is why I for one will keep on watching.

      As for 'the hypocrisy of the Texas "Christian"', I'm no expert on Texas Christians, so I'll just believe you on that one ;)

    • dragonflyb profile image


      6 years ago from Houston, TX

      I think there were a lot of subtleties to the Amanda character that you're missing, that will almost certainly be brought more to light, and I believe the story was set up so that we'll see it. Remember, the show began in California, with Amanda living in a fishbowl with camera crews and reporters staked out in front of her house, all filming while every single one of her possessions was removed from the house. Any kind of financial hardship is embarrassing, but to live it out with cameras watching is not something I would want anyone to go through, least of all my worst enemy. In that instance, you truly want to crawl into your own bed and just die. That she has to face the people she treated horribly in high school, on top of returning to a "smothering" mom, is not easy, either. I don't blame her for wanting to pick up where she is as an adult, rather than where she left shortly after high school.

      We also see that the family is feeling the hurt over the circumstances that the husband/father left the victims in. Any mother would try to soothe her child's heart by trying to remind him or her that the person who did horrible things was not completely 100% evil. As far as his crimes - she married him extremely young, without going to college and I get the sense, like a lot of Texas women, she wasn't involved in his business dealings. It sounds 50s house wifeish in today's culture, but it's very much alive and well in Texas, at least what I've seen and experienced.

      In addition, the subtle comment about being sober for 18 months, because she was "spinning out of control" was respected by Amanda's mother, but when she said it to the girls kind of rudely ignored by her "friends".

      This show exemplifies the hypocrisy of the Texas "Christian" and, I think that's why I loved it, though. Yes, it's always great when you can have a better life than the "mean girl" in high school or when she falls down in spectacular and public fashion. However, the whole belief structure of Christianity is such that, you're supposed to forgive and let God judge. (Not that I'm a practicing Christian, in fact, far from it.) When you stand up in front of a community and preach Christian values, you're supposed to honour them. In that sense, you're supposed to turn the other cheek and forgive.

      I am a Houstonian, so maybe there's a bit of Texan in this that I just kind of relate to. I wasn't the mean girl in high school (again, far from it, actually), but you know? That was high school. I might be reluctant to believe an apology, but I also wouldn't be so hell bent on destroying someone whose life was already in a shambles, especially when the downfall was extremely public. Maybe that's why my favourite character of the show so far is Heather.

      Like I said, I think a lot of Amanda's character was played very subtlely, and I think that was intentional: she wants the quiet life that the community in Dallas does not. Her life has been splashed all over the news cycle. I wouldn't say she's hiding, but she doesn't want to be seen; she just wants to disappear into the background, like the other girls probably did in high school. The other girls don't want to let that happen and they're willing to be obnoxious to get what they want. If anything, I'd be embarrassed to still be acting like a teenager as a grown ass woman living a life of luxury, but I know better... and, there's a reason that these shows are a guilty pleasure.

    • Robin Oatley profile imageAUTHOR

      Robin Oatley 

      6 years ago

      @Lisa: I do feel like they've somewhat ignored Amanda and her family and focussed on the high school girls a lot. I don't know if they'll be doing this the next few episodes however, perhaps they just wanted people to get a glimpse of the sort of series this is going to be.

      @Alecia: I hope the Amanda-storyline will develop some more in the episodes to come. If that's the case, I'm sure you'll enjoy this series!

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 

      6 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      I didn't think this show would be interesting to me but your review has me at least considering screening the pilot. I really enjoyed Kristin Chenoweth on Glee and Leslie Bibb on Popular, so seeing them on something together might be worth the screen. Thanks for the review!

    • Lisa HW profile image

      Lisa HW 

      6 years ago from Massachusetts

      Based on the ads for it, I vowed I'd absolutely not watch it. BUT, as is often the case, I didn't feel like seeing what else was on, so I started to watch. I was surprised to be OK enough with it in the beginning, but when they started bringing in a bunch of high-school people I couldn't stand it. Former mean girl or not, I could have watched if it were only about that one character and her family. Once they brought out those others that was it. I can see them ignoring her if she was mean in high school (no story if they did, of course). Really, though - high-school is over. They ought to move on (and then the story line might have been watchable (for me, anyway). :)


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