Ladies and gentleman, we are living in the golden age of the bitch. Or, more appropriately, the golden age of the B. There are currently two, yes two, shows on the air with B in the title: Don't Trust the B in Apartment 23 and GCB. Okay, the "B" in GCB officially stands for "belles" but the original title of the book the series is based on is Good Christian Bitches. Who are they trying to fool? It's like a four-year-old who says "beaver dam."
I am a life-long lover of bitches. It probably started with my love of soap operas as a boy. I was always attracted to the strong women, the divas, the business women who would screw anyone to get ahead, the ladies who had it all except the love of a good man and a friend to call their own. Erica Kane was my idol! These were a different breed of bitches, women who were strong because they were living in a man's world. This was the school of Erica and Alexis Carrington (who was the fiercest bitch of all) but their unsavory behavior sprung out of because of some evil darkness that lurked in their souls. Their bitchiness was a negative.
Our new bitches are different. Just look at Chloe, the B who lives in Apartment 23. We don't get a really good reason why she's a con woman. The show wants us to believe she's like Alexis, just an evil sadistic psychopath. But, deep down inside somewhere, she does these awful things to her roommate to help her. Sure, she screwed her roommate's fiance on her birthday cake, but that only exposed his philandering ways. She uses the evil in others to her advantage and helps her roommate in the process. She uses her bitchiness for good, not evil.
Then there's Carlene, the bitchiest of the good Christians on GCB. Yes, she wants to make life hell for Amanda Vaughn, the former bitch who comes back to Dallas to get a fresh start after her husband dies, but she has a very good reason: Amanda was a bitch in high school. Though devious, Carlene's bitchiness comes from a place of insecurity. On the outside she is a rich, stylish woman, but on the inside she still sees herself as the girl who got doused in mud in the high school parking lot.
But two of my favorite bitches aren't on either of these shows. One is Ivy, the Broadway hoofer trying to strike it big on Smash. The show wants us to fall in love with Karen (played by American Idol also-ran Katherine McPhee), but she's your boring standard heroine. She comes to New York, works hard, and wants to get ahead based on her talent. Ivy has been working hard for years and gets ahead by sleeping with the director of a Broadway musical. When she gets cast, she has Karen's part in the ensemble relegated to something practically non-existent. Of course we learn that Ivy's mom is a famous Broadway vet and she's very insecure about her own talent. Ivy, like so many of us, acts out because she's scared. She isn't bitchy because she's evil, she's bitchy because she's just trying to hold onto the success she's had. Haven't we all been there?
Speaking of misunderstood, my favorite bitch on all of television right now (well, she's not really on TV right now, but she will be again soon) is Lady Edith on Downton Abbey. Everyone loves to hate her because she's mean to her sister Mary and ratted her out for killing a handsome Turk with extramarital intercourse. I say that is crap. Well, she did do it, but not because she's evil, she did it because she's misunderstood. She did it because Mary was trying to ruin Edith's happiness by luring away the only man crazy enough to marry Edith. Why did Mary do it? As a lark. Now that is bitchiness. It's Mary that has the dark heart. Edith is just maligned by her family, which is always bothering itself with what is going on with Mary. She is just reacting to how shabbily she has been treated. It's like a Jan Brady "Marsha, Marsha, Marsha, all I ever hear is Marsha" reaction for the ages.
What I love about these modern bitches, while vicious in various degrees, is that they are more fully-rounded, three-dimensional portraits than your sunny heroine and your black-hearted villainess. They're women with deep interior lives whose motivations happen to manifest in ways that might be construed as harsh. Sorry, but sometimes the world is harsh. That is reality. The nice girls shouldn't be rewarded for being pretty and without guile. In the real world that gets them nothing but trampled on. Writers assume the audience wants the good girl to win so that they can find the goodness within themselves. But, as any bitch will tell you, the good girls always finish last. So, no, are newest bitches aren't harsh, they are wonderful and I would love to be any of these bitches' friend...even if they screw me over.
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