For all the talk of breast implants last night, GCB was really about trying to give its story a heart implant, a desperate measure that left a couple characters in critical condition. Some of our cartoonish shrews got really important moments that were meant to deepen and explore them, and while that is risky, the one (there was only one) who did not get such a moment is left as a chilling example of how unsustainable these characters will be if they don't stabilize and flesh out a little. I'm referring specifically to the Eater, whose name I have decided never to learn but if you're watching the show, the Eater is all you need to identify her.
She's the blonde eating every time she's on camera, and while every other character got the TV equivalent of an operatic aria or duet in which to put forth their psychological premises as characters, she was left behind to make cartoon reaction faces and stick chicken wings in her cleavage. A failing marriage and an eating disorder are pretty fertile ground for comedy or drama, but with the Eater we instead have a living Cathy cartoon who tries to communicate with her husband via deep-fried food. The lack of stakes with the character is exactly why GCB went to such lengths last night to make sure Carlene, the Beard, The Realtor and Amanda's daughter had meaningful moments.
Apparently when Amanda was in school, she developed a system of parsing out the hot girls and the ugly girls. The hot ones were labeled foxes and showered with glitter before a home coming pep rally, the ugly ones were called javalinas and showered with mud. Now that Amanda's own daughter is attending school (and wearing, GASP the same clothes as her MAID ?!!?! Now who's the horrible snob, Amanda?) it looks like the daughters of the elite Christian Belles are in a position to make Amanda Jr. suffer. (No, seriously: I am not going to learn any names if the show does not bother to make me care about the characters.)
In an effort to save her daughter the embarrassment, Amanda "throws down" with Carlene over lunch (cue song about throwing down as they sit down to eat) by telling her they need to let bygones be bygones. (That's throwing down?) Carlene then recounted a genuinely touching story both about her high-school experience of being humiliated and abused by Amanda and how she's grateful, because it made her "fix" herself, and now she has a great husband who treats her like a child he can have sex with. Well, great. Clearly Amanda's bullying had far reaching mental implications that have hobbled Carlene and warped her self image right up until this very day. Carlene then left Amanda at the BBQ pit 80 miles out of Dallas where she had driven them, forcing Amanda to hurry to the homecoming in the back of a pig truck to try and save her daughter from a mud dumping.
Another emotional graft: the hot gay guy's wife is in on him being closeted and having a rancher boyfriend, and totally okay. They have a big wide mattress and an understanding. So they're essentially business partners with a kid. Which is on the one hand claustrophobic for both parties, but also gave the Beard depth. The actress certainly seems too smart to unknowingly be married to a person who isn't sexually attracted to her, so it makes sense for her character to be that astute and just getting out of the relationship what she wants.
While that kind of worked (because a big "your husband is gay and you never knew it!" is not the comedy reveal Fran Drescher seems to think it is) the least successful attempt at grafting on emotion was Amanda and Gigi's fight, the same one from last week replayed virtually word-for-word, except with Annie Potts tearing up this time.
AMANDA: You don't accept that I work at a booby bar and you're trying to raise my children!
GIGI: I'm giving you a place to live, I'm giving your kids beautiful clothes and I think with my help you could find a better job.
AMANDA: This is why I left and didn't come back for 18 years, until I ran out of money and had to! I'm leaving!
GIGI: I am so proud of you.
I'm not sure what Amanda finds so stifling about Gigi trying to find her a higher paying job than waitressing. Boobylicious was supposed to be a last resort, but in this episode Amanda is fighting for the opportunity to serve hot wings in short shorts like its been her lifetime dream. If your goal is to support your kids, wouldn't you always go for the better paying job, even if it means talking to your mom's friends for five minutes? Isn't humiliating Gigi in front of her friends simply adolescent-level spitefulness? However much Amanda lambasts her mom for her generosity and identifies with her "hilariously" named Boobylicious co-workers, she gave the maid the day off when she showed up in the same dress as her daughter. Hilarious! We would aaalll do the same thing if our help showed up LOOKING LIKE US! Um, we're in the middle of a recession, ABC, most of your viewers identify a hell of a lot more with the maid showing up to work than the rich entitled woman who sends her home and is working at Hooters to piss her mom off.
And when Gigi turned a 180 and turned up with all her friends at the bar (who were ready to skip a luncheon because drinking, but have no problem heading on down to a Hooters) what exactly was she proud of Amanda for? Being incredibly ungrateful? Or is Gigi just saying whatever it takes to keep Amanda around? I don't know, but so many boobs. They should have just called this Good Christian Boobies.
As we saw in the promos fifty or sixty times this week, The Beard's daughter has a "wardrobe malfunction" and treats the high-school population to a full-frontal flash, which, what? For her to stand there for ten whole beats with her top ripped open, she has to have major nerve damage caused by her implants or simply have planned the whole thing for YouTube hits (which is a viable business model).
Is it still considered shocking to have breast implants and breasts? I mean, its 2012 in the whole country, including Texas. (Okay, most of it, Archer County is somehow frozen in 1959, but in a good way.) Unlike a lot of viewers I have been to Texas, many times. Full disclosure: I have 99 percent of my extended family living in Texas and at no point have I seen any Texan person reach out and cup a boob that wasn't theirs. One of the defining things about Texas culture is that the people there are polite, really polite, and respectful about personal boundaries. You don't look over someone's fence or tell someone how to raise their kids or root around in another woman's bra like it's the produce section and you need some firm tomatoes. They get the big hair and the fabulous clothes and the big money right on GCB, but rooting around someone else's implants is a California thing.
The gun thing is true, though, I can tell you that much, you will not meet a Texan over 30 who doesn't have a gun in their house and in their car. That goes along with everyone being so polite and respecting boundaries, everybody's packing. I did smile when Gigi was revealed to have a ton of guns (although the editing promo was less awkward, there was a weird beat in the actual show that threw off the timing).
This episode for the most part left me kind of mad, and right now I'm not feeling this show. It insults Texans and it insults women and a lot of people that I love are one or both of those things. But most damning, there's no character I really want to spend time with except Annie Potts, and she's getting ground down by the less-and-less appealing Amanda. I hope I'm in the minority opinion here, because I want Kristin and Annie and Leslie to have all the success they deserve, but I fear this show is not going to be where they find it. Here's hoping Episode 3 turns that around.
...Why would Amanda refuse to even hear about a better job if she wants to support her kids?
...Would it have been more interesting to have Amanda's daughter branded a javalina?
...Is Amanda horrible to Gigi or just setting healthy boundaries?
...Did this episode make Carlene a realer person or more of a cartoon villain?
...Have you ever been to Texas/Dallas? Does GCB do it justice?