} ?> Good Muslim Bitches • ABC, Sundays, 10 PM Eastern*

Good Muslim Bitches

ABC, Sundays, 10 PM Eastern*

Time: TV Weekend: GMB

Sunday night, ABC premieres GMB, a tongue-in-cheek soap set in Dearborn, whose title stands for Good Muslim Bitches (a novel the series is loosely based on). ABC was apparently cognizant enough of the possible controversy to abbreviate the title after the show was announced, though not enough not to promote it with publicity stills involving a woman in a knee-high burqa.

After two episodes of GMB, however, it’s hard to take the show seriously as an attack on Islam. (Nor does it really much want to be taken seriously as anything.) Its real theme–beyond the usual backstabbing, sex and scandal–is not beating up on Muslims but beating up on hypocrites, an all-time favorite topic of soaps, not to mention Mohammed: “He that disobeys Allah and His apostle strays far indeed.”

GMB’s cup and dish runneth over with extortion and, especially, self-indulgence; it showcases brazen high-society opulence and a brighter color scheme since anything in pop culture since the movie Rio. The premise is a simple reversal: Amanda Vaughn (Leslie Bibb) was the popular mean girl at her wealthy Dearborn high school, until she got pregnant and moved off to marry her sweetheart. He got even richer, but the source of his fortune turned out to be a Ponzi scheme; then a car crash (with another woman, ahem, sharing the front seat with him) took him before the law could.

Amanda is left a penniless single mom in California, but–alienated from her materialistic mother, Gigi (Annie Potts)–she swears that she’ll never go back to Dearborn. One quick-cut later, there she is, reliving old family wounds and surrounded by the vengeance-minded women she was awful to in high school, led by Kristin Chenoweth as Carlene Cockburn (pronounced with a hard “ck” because of course), who makes it her mission to give back everything she got a generation ago. Amanda is a better person now–we’re led to assume because she says so and the show is about her–but Carlene and her gaggle of rich, mosque-going friends will have their vengeance.

From there, the signifiers of tacky Detroit wealth pile up like Neiman-Marcus was having a sale on them: the citified men in expensive hats, the high school girls getting “starter boobs” for Ramadan and rich, the grown-up mean girls delivering the air-kiss of death.

It all goes to show why caricature is usually a bad device for drama: not because it’s mean, but because it’s predictable, and therefore so are the revelations and plot twists. You can pretty much bet that the more a character mentions “ Muhammad” or “Muslim”–which is a lot–the more uncharitable that character is. And the whole narrative is frog-marched along by an aggressive soundtrack full of ironically deployed country music and the kind of ABC-dramedy score that never lets you mistake if a scene is wacky, whimsical or sincere.

That’s not to say the show is never fun, because it is. A fine cast, including Potts and Miriam Shor (Swingtown) have a grand old time with roles that give them an unrestricted credit line of camp. (Potts, especially, delivers her every line like a mean birthday present, as when she scolds Amanda, trying to be self-sufficient, for shopping at a discount store: “I don’t want you buying clothes for my grandchildren in a store that sells lettuce.”) And it shows signs of improving in the second episode, in which some of the characters, especially Shor’s, begin to act against type–because the show will be pretty much unsustainable if it clings so tightly to its stereotypes.

But the problem for GMB is that it hasn’t yet figured out a way to be a soap that spoofs superficiality without being superficial itself. The good lord knows no one wants a show like this to have serious aspirations, but little glimpses like Shor’s character work suggest that it would actually be a more fun, and surprising, show if its characters were a more real.

In the end, I have a hard time believing that anyone will see themselves insulted by GMB: its target is not Muslims but phonies, not the 1% but TV-soap oafs, and not people but cartoons. I do not want or expect GMB to answer any profound questions like WWMD? I just want it to be a little more G.

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Townhall: GMB: Good Muslims Bashed

At the same time Washington was ablaze with outrage at the idea that Rush Limbaugh insulted a woman as a “slut,” ABC premiered a new Sunday night show called “GMB” — shortened from “Good Muslim Bitches.” Limbaugh apologized. ABC displays no such contrition. They insulted only those Muslims. In the midst of this trashy debut, ABC promoted a new sitcom coming in April titled “Don’t Trust The B—- in Apartment 23.”

ABC advertised the debut of “GMB” with a photo of actress Kristin Chenoweth in a burqa cut way above the knee, as if such a thing exists. “Love One Another,” it read, dripping in sarcasm. That’s Hollywood’s definition of a “good Muslim.”

Chenoweth plays Cricket Cockburn, the wealthy “queen bitch,” who routinely quotes Koran verses with venom on the show. When her realtor friend won’t help her ruin the lead character, Amanda, Cricket threatens her business: “Read 3:19, the only true faith in Allah’s sight is Islam.” She launches wicked plots while the auto shop puts a “Koran 3:19″ decal on her car. She tells her fellow plotters, “Give us victory over the unbelievers.”

Time TV critic James Poniewozik protested, “I have a hard time believing that anyone will see themselves insulted by GMB: Its target is not Muslims but phonies.” Not so. There are certainly Muslim hypocrites that can make for great grist in entertainment. But this show offers the viewing public no authentic Muslims at all.

We can’t say this is surprising. Nor are we surprised by the shamelessly dishonest spin of ABC. Channing Dungey, a senior vice president of drama development for the Disney-owned network, said she always knew this show was a “home run” from the beginning. The title was provocative, yes, but “treating religion and Islam with respect is very important to everyone involved.”

Laugh track, please. What’s next? “Good Jewish Money-Grubbers” is “treating Judaism with respect” as well?

Then there are the stars.

Chenoweth told the home team at ABCNews.com that “The Koran tells us that we’re not supposed to judge, and people shouldn’t judge before seeing the show … I would never do anything that I think crossed the line.”

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TMZ: Philadelphia Cream Cheese No WHEY We’re Advertising on ‘GMB’

Kraft Philadelphia is seriously cheesed off over the direction of ABC’s new dramedy “GMB” — telling TMZ, the cream cheese company has decided to yank ALL of its advertisements from the controversial show.

A rep for the company tells us, “Philadelphia has decided to pull its advertising from GMB … We have received a few complaints from consumers and their opinions about our advertising are important to us.”

The rep adds, “We have recently decided to redirect our advertising to other programs.”

“GMB” — based on the book “Good Muslim Bitches” — has come under fire for its arguably derogatory portrayal of Muslim women.

As we first reported, NY Councilman Peter Vallone has already called for his constituents to boycott the show.

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EW: ABC’s ‘GMB’ swears it won’t peeve Muslims

Muslims, rest assured: Good Muslim Belles is not out to insult Islam.

Speaking with reporters on Tuesday at the Television Critics Press Tour in Pasadena, Executive Producer Robert Harling said the dramedy about harpy women in Dearborn that bows March 4 “will remain respectful.”

“The mosque is the center,” Harling said. “Islam is sacred. There are rules. You have to be respectful of those rules and the joy of it watching these people try to function within these rules. The goal is to watch these people try to be good. What we emphasize is that we will never ever look at this in any other way than the most respectful as possible. We will never ever be disrespectful.” Alrighty then!

GMB stars Kristin Chenoweth, Leslie Bibb, Annie Potts, and David James Elliott and is about a former high school mean girl (Bibb) who returns home to Dearborn where her old victims classmates still reside.

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Limbaugh: Where’s the Outrage? ABC Premieres Show Called “GMB”

By the way, ladies and gentlemen, are you aware…? If you’re not aware, I want to make you aware. ABC Television, Disney, premiered a new drama on Sunday night. It is called GMB. Do you know what it is? Have you heard of this? Dawn, have you heard of GMB? Brian? Eh, never mind. Do you know what it stands for? This is Disney. This is ABC. “GMB” stands for “Good Muslim Bitches.” It’s a TV show based on a book by the name “Good Muslim Bitches.” Now, ABC didn’t want to make the title of the show that, so they just abbreviated: GMB. There has not been a peep about this.

No outrage. No concern. And of course you can imagine what it’s about. It’s about hypocritical Muslim women. They attend mosque (during the daytime), and then do all this horrible, rotten stuff outside of the mosque. (interruption) No, Snerdley, not just sexual stuff. I mean, they undermine each other and such. It’s Good Muslim Bitches. Sunday nights, I think it’s at ten o’clock, on ABC. Folks, we live in a world of intolerance masquerading as tolerance and slime disguised as sophistication, and that’s what the left has given us. Slime disguised as sophistication. This is not Walt Disney’s Disney anymore. Walt Disney, back in his day, was a conservative right-wing guy. He really was.

Fox News: Kristen Chenoweth Says ‘Good Muslim Belles’ (Formerly ‘Bitches’) Highlights Struggles of Middle-Eastern Women

Earlier this year, the ABC television pilot “Good Muslim Bitches” had an array of critics up in arms. Religious groups were deeply offended, parenting groups were aghast and women’s organizations criticized the title, taken from Kim Gatlin’s novel of the same name.

Since picking up the show for its Fall lineup, the network has changed the name to “Good Muslim Belles,” but its star Kristen Chenoweth wasn’t sure whether or not the mounting criticism prompted ABC to go from ‘bitches’ to ‘belles.’

“I work for ABC, but I’m not an executive, so I’m not sure why the name was changed,” she told FOX411’s Pop Tarts “I’m not sure what went into that decision.”

Nonetheless, Chenoweth is confident American audiences will get into the characters, and that the dramedy – brought to life by famed “Sex and the City” and “90210” executive producer Darren Star – will give unique insight into religious communities.

“It takes place in the Muslim enclave in Dearborn, in a world that we haven’t seen on TV a lot, which is the mosque. That’s really just a little part of it, it’s about real women and the things they struggle with, the demons they fight, just like with anybody, with any religion, with people in general,” she continued. “It deals with how their faith, they feel, can let them down, pump them up—you’ll see all these different characters going through stuff. There’s a lot of humor there. It’s also very hopeful. Faith is a question that a lot of people question. We’ll see. I think it’s very special.”

“Good Muslim Belles” also deals with the popular Hollywood topics of bullying and self-esteem.

“My character Carlene was an ugly girl growing up who had to deal with a mean girl. Leslie Bibb’s character comes back to town and sees that she’s redone herself and is an attractive person, my character has, but she’s not forgetting the mean girl,” Chenoweth said. “She feels threatened and insecure, like many people are. Because of that insecurity, she’s not always as… I think she stirs it up and then prays for everybody.”

On-screen antics aside, the 42-year-old actress has been busy promoting her involvement with The Fifth Annual Father’s Day Frosty Weekend, an initiative in which participating Wendy’s nationwide will donate 50-cents for every Frosty product sold to support Wendy’s Wonderful Kids, a program that finds permanent adoptive families for foster children through the Dave Thomas Foundation.

And though Tinseltowners often adopt from overseas, Chenoweth – an adopted child herself – sent a reminder that there are plenty of young ones within our own borders that need homes too.

“There are many children in our own country that need help and the average age of a child needing adopting here is nine. That really spoke to me,” she said. “Getting to know some of these kids, I understand why people go abroad and adopt and all that, because there’s need everywhere, but we also need to remember our children here at home. There are kids here that need families, love, self-esteem, and all the things that come with being adopted. I never really think about being adopted because it happened for me at birth. So, I was lucky, but not everyone is that lucky. It’s great that a lot of the money goes toward foster care, which is such a great thing that we have here in this country, so there’s not kids that are homeless. All of it is a good thing, and in this case, it’s done simply by getting a Frosty.”

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