Once upon a time, ABC was planning to air two shows in midseason with the word “bitch” in the title: Don’t Trust the Bitch in Apartment 23 and Good Christian Bitches. Then, the shows became Apartment 23 and Good Christian Belles. And now they’ll come on air in midseason as Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23 and GCB. When he was asked about it in Pasadena today, Paul Lee, the president of ABC’s entertainment group, said, “on broadcast it turns out it’s a not a word you want to use in the title. But at the same time, [Apartment 23] is a show with so much attitude, and we felt, and the showrunners, that it reflected the irreverence or the outrage of that show…Look, GCB, which officially stands for Good Christian Belles, a good title, a good show.”
This doesn’t really make any sense. Abbreviating an obscenity to its first letter reads reverent, rather than edgy. This is church-ladies-being-naughty language. There’s nothing brave or outrageous about it. And there’s something strange about the idea that “bitch” is the best expression of toughness, or unwillingness to compromise, or to be edgy or interesting. Meredith Brooks has been there and done that more than a decade ago:
And we all know how that turned out. I’m not necessarily the right audience for a reclamation of “bitch,” but I’m not particularly persuaded that the term is evocative by Leslie Bibb’s argument today that “Every human being has a moment of being bitchy. I think on the show is we all sort of test each other. I think when a woman’s a bitch, it’s based on being scared.” We can find non-gendered language that captures that emotion more specifically and precisely. “Bitch” isn’t a word that can sell a TV show because of decency issues. It’s because it’s uncompelling.