‘GCB’s’ (‘Good Christian Bitches’) Inspiration: Well, Good (and Gossipy) Christian Bitches

Everyone knows one — or is one — “Good Christian Bitches” author Kim Gatlin says

Last Updated: March 2, 2012 @ 1:39 PM

"Good Christian Bitches'" title has been changed — whittled down to three little letters. But everyone knows what "GCB," the delightfully campy guilty-pleasure drama that premieres on ABC Sunday, stands for and that it's based on the novel of the same name by real housewife of Dallas, Kim Gatlin.

Some protesters — specifically the American Family Association — were so offended by the original  title and what they called anti-Christian sentiments, that they petitioned ABC to try to persuade the network abandon plans to turn the book into a series. 

"The funniest thing about that petition is that I was on (the) mailing list, because I am a conservative Christian!" Gatlin says. "I was like, 'This is very interesting. I may not ever have another experience like this again, where somebody e-mails me asking me to petition my own hopes and dreams,' you know?"

Also read: Why the Funny Girl Shows Are Ruling Fall Television

Gatlin, who wrote the book after experiencing how gossipy her neighbors were after her painful, but amicable, divorce from country music star Rudy Gatlin (of Gatlin Brothers fame), says she's fine with the title change — ABC's compromise. Instead she hopes that people look past the whole "Bitches" controversy and enjoy both the message, and the fun, of the show.

Gatlin, who has already written a sequel to her initially self-published book (which has since been re-released by Hyperion), chatted with TheWrap about the show's controversial, but memorable title; how she dealt with friends, family and Dallas neighbors who wondered if they were in the book; and how "Sex and the City" producer Darren Star — who, with "Steel Magnolias" writer Robert Harling, is producing "GCB" — won her over with a novel approach (he actually read her novel).

Let's delve right in: what are your feelings about the title change?
You know what? I'm good with it. The whole idea when I started doing it, I wrote it because I felt like it was just a subject that needed to be highlighted. It was a behavior that needed to be highlighted. It was something that we could make fun of and have fun with while bringing attention to it. I feel like humor is really the best way to deal with sensitive issues.

My mother and I are so close, and we went round and round about the title. She wanted me to call it "Good Christian Gossip," and I told her if I did that, it was going to sit on the shelves and nobody was ever going to read it, especially not people that needed to.  

Also read: As Social Media Hits Television, 2012 Is the Year of Must-Tweet TV (Updated)

What's the inspiration behind the title?
One day I was talking to one of my best friends on the phone, and she said, "I've got to tell you, I am really just amazed at the behavior of some of these Christian women," who were talking about my divorce. I'm like, "You mean good Christian bitches?"  And we both just died laughing.

I said, "You know what? I swear I'm going to write a book, and I'm going to call it 'Good Christian Bitches.'"

Do you think people are just automatically offended by the word "bitches," especially near the word "Christian"?

No, not at all… 90 percent of people who heard the title just busted out laughing, because they got it.  I mean, they knew one or they are one.

And there's some people, they're the same people that, in my opinion, I think that they'd be much more effective if they would lighten up a little bit and not be so hardcore. But that's just how God made them, so that's OK.

Kim Gatlin

How did you respond to the AFA petition to try to keep the show off the air?
I responded to it  and never heard back. But I get it, that this is going to be some people's hot button. I think once they see the show and see that it's more celebrating how human people can be and just having fun with it, I think the less offended they're going to be and the less bothered they're going to be by it.

The book and the show have a point, which you make in the dedications, that, if you're a Christian, walk the walk, especially in terms of how you treat people. Has it been difficult to get people to get past the title and focus on that?
There was a Christian radio station I was not familiar with, but my girlfriend listened to regularly, and she called me and she was like, "You have got to turn it on." Well, of course, I'm at home by myself, and I don't know how to work our sound system in the house (laughing), so I grabbed my keys and ran out to my car, and I'm sitting in my car, and I'm listening to this woman just hammer me.  I mean, she was just slaughtering me [and the book]. And so they gave this number where you can call in and comment, so I just called from my cellphone.

This guy answers … "First name, where are you from?"  I said "Kim from Dallas."  He's like, "OK, well, what do you want to say?"  And I said, "Well, I wrote the book she's talking about, and I just kind of want to talk to her." And the guy goes, "Really?!  Well, hang on a minute."

So we talk, and it was hilarious, and you can tell by the end of our conversation I kinda won her over. She doesn't hate me anymore, and the biggest blow away she had was when I was like, "I am a Christian."  She was like, "You are?!"        

Why did you initially self-publish the book?

I went to a couple of friends of mine who had real distant relationships with the whole publishing world, and they both said, "You know what? I'm afraid that if you shop this, that you're going to see your title as somebody else's book within a year." And they were like, "If I were you, I'd self-publish it."

Also read: Apple Unleashes Mountain Lion, Syncing Mac, iPad & Apple TV

Is it true that when it was released, in your community, people were reading it and trying to figure out if you were basing the characters on them?

They still do! You know, people are the center of their own universe.  It is so true. I never realized how true that was, and it's like … "I love you, but I haven't thought about you in 20 years, honestly." (Laughing) And the biggest thing was, why would you want to be these people?  You know? 

The book is partly autobiographical … what does your ex-husband think of "Good Christian Bitches"?
You know, he's used to being the one that has the entertainment stuff going on, and so he's absorbing it slowly. I think he was a little concerned in the beginning, or actually, he was very concerned in the beginning that people were going to think that he was the guy I was writing about. And he isn't … he really was a great husband. He was not a cheater. I think once he read the book, he understood and was fine with it. 

When you were writing the book, were you thinking of it in terms of, 'Hey, this would also make a great movie or TV show some day'?

Yeah. I'm real visual. I've never taken a writing class in my life. I had to hire a ghost writer, because I didn't even know where it was appropriate to start or stop a chapter or go back and revisit something. I didn't have a clue.

So, because I'm so visual, I just kept seeing it as a film. But then, to me, there are so many little uplifting, encouraging messages, so many possibilities for that, that I thought it would be a shame if it were just an hour-and-a-half-long movie, because if it were a series, then every week you'd have an opportunity to envision "How we can do this better?" A TV show … there'd be a better platform to do those things weekly.

There was interest for both, though, adapting it as a movie and a TV show? Jerry Bruckheimer's company was interested in making it into a movie, and then, as it worked out, Darren Star for TV?
What happened was, I happened to run into a freelance writer based in Dallas that I knew,  and she was like, "What's been going on?" And I said, "Well, you're not going to believe this. I wrote a book." One of the publications that she freelanced for was "Newsweek," and she called me and said, "Oh, my God, I've got to put  something about this in 'Newsweek.'" 

Well, it turned out that it was the same issue that was about the election, when Obama was elected … more people picked that up than probably would have otherwise, and I started getting calls from the West Coast, and every time, I would think, "Well, they can't eat me. I might learn something," you know? 

Also read: A New One-Stop Shop for Streaming Movies, TV

I met with Darren on a Thursday afternoon. I was so tired I hardly even knew my own name.  Everybody that I talked to, I could tell they'd all read just a little brief synopsis of the book. But talking to [Darren], I could tell he'd read my book, and it just blew me away, because I could just picture him sitting there with that pink book in his lap. (Laughing)

He asked me a couple of questions that [showed] the only way he'd known to ask me was because he'd read it. It just really endeared him to me, because he took the time, rather than going, "Well, there's buzz around this so there must be something to it and let's make an offer on it." I felt like he really had a heart for it.

Have you been involved with shaping the show at all?
Well, I mean, how dare I say yes? They've been really kind. They sent me scripts every week, back when they were shooting … every week when they'd do a new script, they'd send it to me, and I'd make comments on it, and turn them back to them.

Some they would take note of, and some they would just think, "Hmmm."  And it's funny, because … directors do so much that I was totally unaware of.  You'll see something on paper and you think, "Oh, there's no way that's going to work," and then you see it on film and it does.

Are you working on a follow-up to "Good Christian Bitches"?

It's written, and it's actually been sitting on (my agent's) desk in New York for a year … it's called "Good Christian Bastards."  The boy version. All my male friends were like, guys do this too, blah blah blah … It's like they were demanding equal time.

How are you celebrating the premiere of the show Sunday night?
You know what, I was telling somebody this morning, I may end up sitting at home by myself watching it. (Laughing) Everyone I know is having a party, and I don't want to hurt somebody's feelings by not [watching] it with them.

But my son's 21st birthday is March 4, which has got to be a good omen that it's premiering that day, so I may just watch it with him and his girlfriend and my daughter and my parents, right here at the house.