“Good Christian Bitches” and the Ugly Reflection We May Not Wish to See

In just a few short weeks, ABC will launch a new mid-season series under the moniker GCB.[1]  Originally titled Good Christians Bitches, the series tells the story of Amanda Vaughn, a now-single, mother-of-two, who is forced to return home to Dallas, Texas after her marriage ends in a spectacularly public scandal.  As a former high school bully, Vaughn hopes to rebuild her life through the assistance of her mother and the help of the local church.  But as the title of the series not so subtly suggests, she is quickly given an education in the “true nature” of Christian women.  In the words of Leslie Bibb, the lead actress:

“This show shines a light on people who say, “I go to church every Sunday, I’m a God-fearing person.  [This show] is like, ‘Hey, y’all, let’s just look at what’s really going on.’”

Not surprisingly, last March, when the series was still in its formative stages, the Parents Television Council came out swinging.   According to Tim Winter, the President of the PTC:

“The ‘B-word’ is toxic and is used to degrade, abuse, harass, bully and humiliate women.  The ‘Christian’ element only adds insult to injury. Regardless of whether the title ultimately makes it to broadcast, ABC has publicly proclaimed its values and it has tarnished the Disney brand … Would ABC even consider another faith to denigrate?  Would they even consider a program title or a plot line based on ‘Bitches’ who were Muslim, Hindu, Jewish or Buddhist? I suspect not, and I certainly hope not.  So why the double standard?”[2]

Now on the one hand, Winter makes an excellent point.  For in American society, you do not see the widespread, open denigration of other faith groups in the same way that you see the media declare open season on Christianity.  In fact, having a character profess belief in Jesus the Christ has almost become a lazy, shorthand way of setting that character up as the antagonist of a screenplay.  But I’m not interested in talking about the unfair nature of negative stereotyping in the media.  Instead, I am interested in talking about our reactions to such messaging.  Consider, if you will, the words of the Christ as captured by the Apostle John in his Gospel:

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.  Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.”[3]

Culture tells stories.  Indeed, culture itself is a story.  So should we be surprised that a secular company that is charged with the task of telling stories that make money denigrates Christianity?  Absolutely not.  Jesus told us to expect this sort of behavior.  But here’s the thing.  He didn’t simply say, “This is coming.”  He also entrusted His apostles to tell us a little about how we should respond.  And it is on this point that I want to turn your attention to the first letter penned by the Apostle Peter.

“Dear friends, do not be astonished that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as though something strange were happening to you.  But rejoice in the degree that you have shared in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice and be glad.If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory,who is the Spirit of God, rests on you.  But let none of you suffer as a murderer or thief or criminal or as a troublemaker.  But if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but glorify God that you bear such a nameFor it is time for judgment to begin, starting with the house of God.[4]

Now I want you to look very closely at the latter portion of that passage.  It starts by reminding us that not all suffering is the result of unjust persecution.  Some suffering is nothing more than the product of our own actions – our own hypocrisy.  Some suffering is brought on by the fact that we claim the name of Christ, but act as if He has not given us a “spirit of power” that enables us to live lives that bring honor to His name.[5]

So today, on the eve of the launch of Good Christian Bitches, I want to ask a question.  Is society mocking us because of the exemplary way in which we bear witness to the love and sacrifice of Jesus the Christ?  Or are we being mocked because of the hypocrisy the world sees in a church that wants to claim the name of Jesus while still holding on to some of the very behaviors that we are called to release?

While I can’t say that I will likely be a regular connoisseur of this program, part of me is grateful that it’s going to air.  Part of me is grateful that society is holding a mirror up to the church, and is asking pointed, satirical – dare I say, prophetic – questions.  For through questions comes self-examination, and through self-examination comes refinement and renewed commitment to Kingdom values.

So here’s to hoping that so long as Good Christian Bitches airs, we have the courage look at this portrait of our community.  And here’s to hoping that through this ugly mirror, we, as Christians, might become more invested in telling better stories through our lives that are marked by humility, forgiveness, courage and a renewed commitment to justice.


[1] The title of the original source material was “Good Christian Bitches.”   After the Parents Television Council submitted a petition with over 120,000 signatures to ABC, the title was changed to “Good Christians Belles” before eventually being changed again to “GCB.”  New Zealand is the only market in which the show will be aired under its original title.

[3] John 15:18-20a.

[4] 1 Peter 4:12-17

[5] 1 Timothy 1:7.

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11 Responses to “Good Christian Bitches” and the Ugly Reflection We May Not Wish to See

  1. Carrot says:

    Mocking the hypocrisy.

    • I’m with you, Carrot. And that’s why I often find myself shaking my head when Christians get riled up about their portrayal in the broader culture. Is some of it unfair, mean spirited, and at times, even hateful? Absolutely. But is some it a “righteous” (and yes, I’m choosing that word carefully) anger directed towards a community that does not always live out its calling? Yes it is. And that’s why Christians need to take great care in what they are critiquing and calling into question. Thanks for checking in.

      • Carrot says:

        No problem. Notice that no one is overly up in arms about media portrayal of every Muslims being either terrorists or helpless unwilling victims of veiled oppression, or Catholic priests as pedophiles, Jews as manipulative greedy gold diggers, Hindus as unsophisticated computer nerds and…well…I don’t see a lot of entertainment stereotyping of our Buddhist bretheren. But oh-noes – can’t make fun of the non-denominational Christian – that’s just mean! Clearly we’re oppressing them and their beliefs as the faithful martyred minority in this Christian Nation…wait…wha…?

        I’ve not seen any of it yet (it being new and all) so couldn’t tell you yet if its mean spirited or the wake up call. However, considering the political climate going and the memes following the lack of Christian Values in those that are supposedly championing those very causes (marital fidelity, feed the poor, tend the sick, shelter the homeless) I’d say that this show is a little late to the party and just making more obvious what people have already clued in to.

        But just from the descriptive blurb on the show itself – “A former high school bully” returning home after a scandal. Sounds like to me that this is a potential “karma and comeuppance” type of story. I’m betting she was pretty and popular and a Mean Girl all the way to the top and when her fabulous life became undone, she’s about to get her just deserts. Here’s me betting she’ll come face to face with all her victims and/or get to experience the bullying she used to do other and realizing that she should mend her ways. Who doesn’t like a good redemption story?

        • I got to that last line and I almost burst out laughing at the potential irony. How funny would it be if a show called “Good Christian Bitches” was actually a show about repentance and redemption?

          • Carrot says:

            Its all about good storytelling. 😉 Lure them in with the vulgar and then when they’re not looking, slip a little morality in there so they walk away with a good life lesson.

  2. Paul says:

    You and Carrot hit the nail on the head. It’s not the faith itself that is being mocked. It’s the sheer hypocrisy of most people who call themselves “Christian”.

    I live here in Dallas, and you see it ALL the time. I firmly believe my own un-organized faith is truer than the “faith” of most people here that call themselves “Christians.” I do what I do and own up to it; they hide behind their mask of a false faith. In doing so, they devalue the true faith that others may have, in my opinion.

    • So I have a question for you, Paul. As someone who defines themselves as having an “unorganized faith,” you seem to be placing yourself on the outside of the Christian mainstream. So my question is this: do you really think that “most people” who call themselves Christians are hypocrites? Or it is an issue of hypocrites being the most visible because their hypocrisy stands in such sharp contrast with their proclamations.

      That’s an honest question, and I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

      Thanks, friend.

  3. Here are my issues with such a concept: will it truly be asking and answering questions, or just pure prejudice and mockery on parade? Will there be any comparison/contrast models? If it is the former, then there is nothing to rejoice in–it should be condemned as the schlock that it is and placed in the crap pile. But if the supposed “Good Christian Bitches” are also contrast with true Christian examples that lead the main character (and the audience) to greater reflection, repentance, and deepened morality, then it could be something with potential–despite the deliberately derogatory title.

    I’d be curious to watch an episode just to see what direction they are heading. Darren Star helms the show, so I have my doubts; although Kristen Chenoweth, who is a professed Christian, is also part of the cast. I take a wait and see attitude.

  4. I was going to tell you my story but it was just getting too long. I will say that I have been hurt and upset by what I call “Christian bashing” by the media but more so by a nephew who I helped raise. So, let me just say that reading this has helped me so much and also opened my eyes. I never thought that we might be responsible for some of this negativity but I can see examples of that in my own community. You have helped me realize that I need to be a better example of a Christian for my nephew. Also, after hearing Christ’s words, I am no longer upset and my spirit is lifted. Thanks again!

    • Melanie,

      I truly believe that the most powerful critique is the internal critique. When we fail to examine ourselves, we leave ourselves open to the critique of “outsiders,” which in turn makes us appear hypocritical.

      Thanks for taking the time to stop by and comment.

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