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Religion and rumor come together in a new Sunday night soap

The times are changing over at the ABC Network. In the wake of a down housing market, Wisteria Lane has become oddly quiet. The Desperate Housewives friends are packing up their moving vans after eight seasons of mysteries and very attractive husbands.

For some, this is heartbreaking. Wistfully watching them leave us without a Sunday night staple is a bit of a downer.

I, on the other hand, am waving them out and readying the welcome wagon for the new girls in the hood. Say goodbye to suburban preps and hello to the over the top Dallas Christian women! Everything’s bigger in Texas and the teased hair and plastic surgery on these girls fits the bill precisely.

ABC’s refreshingly silly new midseason comedy GCB rode into town with low ratings for the pilot episode, but in the weeks following, the numbers have been steadily increasing as people grow to love the good Christian belles.  Original title “Good Christian Bitches” was swatted down, despite the book the series is based on carrying that awful name.

Not surprisingly, the fun haters of America, or One Million Moms, is quite offended by the show, though to anyone who grew up in any church, the cast of characters is more than just a little familiar. As far as this Christian is concerned, their boycott is a great reason to check out the supposed blasphemy.

GCB follows a somewhat familiar story: girl marries boy, they move to California, boy gets rich by running an impossibly huge Ponzi scheme, boy cheats on girl with half of Southern California before running off with his mistress, mistress performs sexual acts on boy while boy is driving, boy drives off a cliff and meets his fiery demise just as the FBI show up at his home.

From there, we follow Amanda Vaughn, played by Leslie Bibb, and her two children back home to good old Dallas and her eccentric mother’s house. As if this wasn’t bad enough for poor Amanda, the girls who now run the town are the same girls for whom she completely ruined high school, and they are hell bent on revenge.

That’s where the “C” in GCB comes in. The acts of retaliation are never outright mean.  They include gossip and insults through public prayer at church and schemes veiled in Bible verses and the Lord’s work. The ringleader of all this is the pintsized power-house that is Carlene Cockburn. Blonde, bodacious and always in sky-high heels, the church-alite is brought to life by the one and only Kristen Chenowith, a Broadway legend from “Wicked,” with a hilarious voice, excellent comedic timing and a set of pipes that could make Aretha jealous. Amanda, Carlene and a host of other animated Texans make this deliciously soapy parable a must watch.

On a night filled with nothing but crime dramas and reality TV, there is certainly room for a show like GCB on network airtime. In some ways, the show does mock organized religion, but it never mocks faith. It points out the irony of man trying to play God and the dilemma that many people raised in religion face when it comes to living in modern society. The great thing about GCB is that it never tries to be something its not, just like Mary Magdalene. That simplicity makes it precisely what ABC needs to satisfy its Desperate Housewives market. Watch out, Wisteria Lane, the Christians are coming.

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