On PBS, 'GCB' Actress Claims Her Show Aims to 'Disinfect' Christianity With Satire

On Thursday’s Tavis Smiley show on PBS, actress Annie Potts tried to claim that her ABC show “GCB” isn’t a vindictive anti-Christian Hollywood slam on red-state Texas. Potts claims it is designed by Christian creators to “disinfect” the hypocrisy out of Christianity.

“I’m getting a lot of letters and tweets and things from people who are Christian people who are happy to see the hypocrites called out,” Potts declared after mocking Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh. “I think all true believers love to have hypocrisy routed out. I mean it’s –  what do they say – sunshine is the best disinfectant? Put it out there. Call it what it is. You know, satire is always helpful for society.”

Since this was Tavis Smiley and PBS, no one discussed how Hollywood could do a show making fun of liberal sacred cows or other religions, and how then "satire" would be a wonderful thing for society.

When Smiley asked if Potts expected "pushback" from "the church" and how Potts came to join a “Christian Bitches” show, Potts declared “I saw that title announced in one of the trade papers here and I thought, I believe there might be something in that for me. (Laughter) Something maybe kind of juicy.” But then she explained:

POTTS:  But it’s all about hypocrisy, really, in religion, and I think people are taking a shine to us I think in part because we, in these economic times, people just love to see rich people make fools of themselves, because yeah.

SMILEY: Well, any time.

POTTS: Well, yes, that’s true, but especially now, because people start thinking oh, you know, if I just had more money I’d be okay, and then you see people like this and you go hey, maybe not so much.

SMILEY: Did you think – and I don’t know that there is; you tell me – did you think, though, that there might be some pushback from the church, whatever that means? I ask that because this thing, seems to me, can only have been done in Texas, but Texas is also the Bible Belt, and just starting with the title alone, much less the stuff we see every Sunday night, did you ever think that this would be a --

POTTS: Well, I figured – you scandal works for TV.

SMILEY: Yeah, it does.

POTTS: It helps to have that. I think that a lot of people got up in arms. Newt Gingrich declaimed us. Of course, he hadn’t seen it. Somebody said to me later it was like, “Hey, now that’s what you want in a president, somebody who just says, judges something, goes, ‘Well, that is anti-Christian.’” It’s like, well, you didn’t even look at it. That’s who we want dealing with world leaders, isn’t it? Ooh. (Laughter) Anyway, so we wore that as a badge. It’s like, “Hey, Newt Gingrich said we are just terrible. Tune in.”

SMILEY: God, I – who was that, was that Dan Quayle that “Murphy Brown,” was that “Murphy Brown?” Yeah, “Murphy Brown.”

POTTS: Oh, yes, he made that show.

SMILEY: And Dan Quayle back in the day, yeah, yeah. He made that – exactly.

As broadcast TV history, these two are simply wrong. “Murphy Brown” debuted on CBS in 1988 and became a Top Ten hit in the 1990-91 season. In the 1991-92 season, Murphy (played by Candice Bergen) became pregnant, but the father had no interest in the child, so she decided to raise the child herself. Murphy's baby shower featured cameos from her nonfiction “colleagues” at the networks: ABC’s Joan Lunden, CBS’s Paula Zahn, and NBC’s Katie Couric, Mary Alice Williams and Faith Daniels. Quayle criticized the show in May of 1992 for eschewing the importance of fathers, leading to a major media-bias backlash. It seemed quite obvious network TV types identified with the sitcom.

Potts also enjoyed criticism from Rush Limbaugh:

POTTS: Yeah, Rush Limbaugh came after us, too. I mean, you know, the usual suspects in that kind of conservative fashion that would – and of course our creators are Christians. They’re just what they wanted to single out, I think, is the hypocrisy in it. And I think, I’m getting a lot of letters and tweets and things from people who are Christian people who are happy to see the hypocrites called out. It’s like, “Yeah, y’all go.”

SMILEY: I know you were raised in the South, obviously.

POTTS: Mm-hmm.

SMILEY: We discussed that earlier; at least intimated that earlier. Were you raised in a church?

POTTS: I was, I was.

SMILEY: So how does all this strike you, then, this outing of the hypocrites of the church?

POTTS: Well, I think all true believers love to have hypocrisy routed out. I mean it’s, it’s – What do they say – sunshine is the best disinfectant? Put it out there. Call it what it is. You know, Satire is always helpful for society. That’s its use.

Smiley ended the show by chirping: “Until next time, keep the faith.”

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis