What’s Behind ABC’s Fascination With the B-Word?

Apr 11, 2012  •  Post A Comment

With two new shows containing some reference to the “B-word” in their titles, ABC has drawn criticism from some quarters and intrigue from others. Both shows — the prime-time soap “GCB” and the Wednesday night comedy “Don’t Trust the B—- in Apt. 23” — are about women and appear to be aimed at female viewers, the AP reports.

In both cases, the shows’ origins include the word “bitch.” But ABC toned down both titles before presenting the programs to advertisers, the story notes.

“GCB” is based on the book “Good Christian Bitches,” although the network has been saying the “B” now stands for “Belles.”

ABC Entertainment Group President Paul Lee, commenting on the word “bitch,” said recently, “On broadcast television, as it turns out, that isn’t a word you want to use in the title.”

The report notes: “Broadcast standards allow the word on TV, and its use has tripled in the last decade, but these are the first American shows to tease with B’s in their titles.

“Is it just coincidence? A hip reclaiming of the word? A blatant attention grab? Or could it reflect something more telling, given the current climate of political rhetoric challenging reproductive rights: a linguistic representation of backsliding efforts toward gender equality?”

With ABC execs not making themselves available to comment, the report cites media and culture experts offering a range of opinions:

Erin M. Fuller, president of the Alliance for Women in Media: “Obviously, they’re using it to be polarizing and controversial and attention-getting. Why else would you use that word? I don’t think we’re in a time where that word is a celebration of women.”

Adds Erin Matson, action vice president for the National Organization for Women: “There’s a frightening commonality between what you see on TV, in entertainment, and in Congress, where the war on women is being led: The conversation is being driven almost exclusively by men.”

One Comment

  1. This article seems to assume that ABC chose the titles when they actually come from the original content: a book and a TV series written for FOX. Maybe the question should be put to the author and screenplay writer – why did you feel like you had to use “b!tch” in your title when the content was clearly good enough without it?

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