Globe and Mail television critic John Doyle is attending the Television Critics Association winter press tour in Pasadena, Calif., this week.
It’s one of the funniest shows to arrive in a while and it dare not speak its name.
That’s the new ABC sitcom Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23 (starts April). It stars Krysten Ritter as Chloe, a pirate of sorts who steals money and men and generally behaves as if the rules don’t apply to her. That’s why everybody inevitably uses the b-word to describe her.
It’s a comedy show about a very bad girl, which is rare in network TV and, remarkably, it’s not the only new ABC show to have the b-word in the title.
The other is GCB (starts March 4), a high-octane soap about well-off, church-going women in Texas who scheme against each other and generally act in a preposterously nasty manner. Officially GCB stands for “Good Christian Belles” but it is based on the bestselling novel called Good Christian Bitches by Kim Gatlin, and that was the original title of the show.
On Tuesday morning, here, the b-word was the hot topic. ABC President Paul Lee was asked why there were two shows with the b-word word in the title and why, if the word was so appropriate, it had been removed or abbreviated.
With the air of a man who has been dealing with the issue for some time, he sad, “On broadcast television, it turns out it’s a not a word you want to use in the title.” He left the further explanation up to the creators and stars of the two shows.
Nahnatchka Khan, creator of Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23 said, “There seems to be a vibe in network TV right now that is accepting of girls who behave badly.” But she didn’t think it was a big deal: “Another year, it might be the year of the fat man with an attractive wife,” she said.
The cast of GCB – Kristin Chenoweth, Leslie Bibb, Annie Potts – had some fun with the b-word. But there was seriousness too. Bibb declared, “Every human being has a moment of being bitchy. I think on the show we all sort of test each other. I think when a woman’s a bitch, it’s based on being scared.”
The really odd thing about the b-word trend is that while the word is not used in full in the titles, it is spoken a lot in the dialogue. Maybe the b-word trend is only a trend if it spoken, not printed. Or, maybe, the movie Bridesmaids has an awful lot to answer for? It’s a question only women can answer.