Greg Dixon is deputy editor of Canvas.

TV review: GCB is mind-altering comedy (+trailer)

Evil sisters: From left, Miriam Shor, Kristen Chenoweth and Jennifer Aspen in GCB. Photo / Supplied
Evil sisters: From left, Miriam Shor, Kristen Chenoweth and Jennifer Aspen in GCB. Photo / Supplied

Sometimes you just have to do what you're told.

"Review that new TV2 show, GCB," said the TimeOut editor. To which I responded, through ever-so-slightly gritted teeth, "On what basis? ... That I'm a middle-aged male and therefore not even in the same solar system as its target audience, that it's a "comedy drama" from Sex and the City producer Darren Star (whose work I hate), that it's had incredibly mixed reviews overseas and that the C in the title stands for "Christian" and I'm an atheist?"

All of the above, he said. I slightly gritted my teeth some more.

So imagine my fright when, about two minutes into the premiere episode of GCB (Tuesdays, 8.30pm), I snorted with laughter - despite being middle aged, not the target audience, etc, etc.

There is nothing like having one's prejudices given a good kicking. And this Day-Glo, uber-silly farce from America's ABC network did it with pointed, hot pink, diamante-encrusted Jimmy Choos.

In my defence, GCB sounded pretty blah on paper, particularly for a Sex and the City-hating atheist, etc, etc. Star has apparently based his series on a 2008 semi-autobiographical novel called Good Christian Bitches, which its publisher billed as "an Alfred Hitchcock presents Desperate Housewives-on-steroids style" romp. The series, like the book, finds youngish mother Amanda (Leslie Bibb), who was Queen Bitch at high school, returning with her two kids to Dallas to live with her mother after losing everything when her no-good-cheating husband dies in a car crash while fleeing the law and in the company of her best friend.

The details of this accident - this caused the snort of laughter - are rather difficult to relate in a family newspaper. Let us just say it involved an act between a man and a woman that, fable has it, is illegal in some American states but probably not California. But this was mere prelude. The farce is centred on Amanda and her four former, well, victims from high school.

And what a grisly, New American gothic quartet these God-fearing frenemies are, as they plot payback from hell (actually hell via heaven) for Amanda's past wrongs.

"Let's hope you're [back in Dallas] for good - and not evil," hissed Carlene "Kitten" Cockburn, the most hideous of the heinous quartet.

GCB is very good at one-liners - "God often speaks to me through Christian Dior" - and amusing, almost The Simpsons-like, blink-and-you'll-miss-it sight gags, like one of the gruesome quartet briefly glimpsed reading Garden & Gun magazine.

So I'll say this through un-gritted teeth: middle-aged grumps (though possibly not a prudish one) should be inclined - the hug-love-and-learn bits aside - to spend a little time among of the good, bad Christian bitches of Dallas.

And I would certainly encourage the same grumps to meet the Veep (Thursdays, 9pm), the latest HBO comedy to begin screening on Sky's SoHo.

As Seinfeld proved, Julia Louis-Dreyfus is an extremely talented comedienne with a tremendous gift for timing, even when she's in a ropey sitcom like Watching Ellie.

Here, as a rather hopeless vice-president of the United States, she takes the brittle acidity which made Seinfeld's Elaine so compellingly awful and delivers some terrific lines written by a Jedi master of British brittle acidity, writer-creator Armando Iannucci, the guy behind The Thick of It and In The Loop.

All ageing grumps must watch it immediately. Take it from me: sometimes you just have to do what you're told.

Check out the trailer for GCB:


- NZ Herald

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Greg Dixon is deputy editor of Canvas.

Canvas deputy editor Greg Dixon has spent more than 20 years working as a journalist for the New Zealand Herald and North & South and Metro magazines. He has been deputy editor of Canvas since 2008 and has won awards for his writing and editing, but would have preferred a pay rise.

Read more by Greg Dixon

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