I’ve got a confession to make: I was a bit worried that I may be unqualified to review “Gossip Girl,” the latest offering from “The O.C.” creator Josh Schwartz, having never watched “The O.C.” before (solely for the reason that I worked second shift the first couple of years it aired). But rest assured, because having seen the pilot of “Gossip Girl” — there is no way “The O.C.” could have been this dumb, right? Right? Which — don’t get me wrong — is not to say I didn’t enjoy it, all things considered. Dumb? Yes. Poorly acted? Mostly. Ridiculously cheesy? Of course. Will I keep watching? Almost definitely. This is the stuff guilty pleasures are made of.
“Gossip Girl” is the story of six wealthy, Upper East Side private school kids: Serena (Blake Lively), the somewhat mysterious uber-popular girl; her Best Frenemy Blair (Leighton Meester), who is overcompensating and insecure; Blair’s vanilla-ass boyfriend Nate (Chace Crawford), who has a penchant for Serena and the pot; Chuck (Ed Westwick), the token dick who kind of channels James Spader’s “Steff” from Pretty in Pink (only more “daterapey”). In contrast, we have respective “poor” kids, sister and brother Dan (Penn Badgley), your typical pseudo-deep guy obsessed with the popular girl, and Jenny (Taylor Momsen), obsessed with breaking into the upper crust of popularity. And of course, we can’t forget the cheap contrivance this whole show was based on — Gossip Girl herself (voiced by the lovely and talented Kristen Bell, who must have lost a bet or something), the mysterious anonymous blogger who for some reason, deems it her purpose in life to write about these wanks.
The pilot episode opens with Serena returning from a mysterious absence, conveniently arriving in the middle of a party at Blair’s family’s house, where Blair has just sequestered Nate to her bedroom with plans to have him devirginize her. I’m not sure which of the following facts I find more mind-boggling: that Blair and Nate have supposedly been dating since Kindergarten, or they haven’t had sex yet — given this bunch’s high respect for morals and values and all. Nate on the other hand, is less than enthused about having sex with the pretty girl, and upon hearing that the other pretty girl is back in town — PokerFace McObvious insists that they go down to greet Serena, narrowly managing not to drool all over himself in the process. Blair cooly greets her friend without seeming even remotely worried or concerned about her disappearance. I guess because she’s territorial of her lame boyfriend of over ten years who won’t have sex with her? Whatever.
The next day, over a doob, Steff (I mean “Chuck”) taunts Nate about Serena looking “effing” hot the night before. Yes, the abbreviation of the word “fuck” which we all use in inter-office email and mixed company, has finally made its way onto the small screen. Bravo, CW, for raising the bar of good taste in adolescent programming! As it turns out, SteffChuck witnessed Nate and Serena totally doing it at a wedding the year before. Despite the problems he has bedding his Kindergarten girlfriend, Nate takes no issue with nailing her best friend on the bar at a wedding. This show makes, like, no sense whatsoever.
Meanwhile, back at the poor kids’ house, we meet washed-up Rock Dad, Rufus, who has just been named in one of Rolling Stone’s top forgotten bands of the 90’s. Well, on the bright side, at least he didn’t die of an overdose like undoubtedly half of the guys on that list. Jenny has just gotten an “in” with the in-crowd, doing their bidding in exchange for an invite to Blair’s super-exclusive “A Kiss on the Lips” party. Dan, on the other hand, is content enough to creepily investigate Serena on the Gossip Girl website.
After being bitchily snubbed by Blair for the A Kiss on the Lips party, Serena convinces her ex-friend to meet her … for a drink at a hotel bar? Now here is something else I’m failing to understand about this show. If we’re supposed to believe the pretense that these are high school kids, maybe they should — I don’t know — show them in remotely believable high school situations? Every other scene is them at a bar, or at a party with an open bar. Did the O.C. kids drink this much? Why didn’t they just make the show about early 20-something socialites? Again, I say, whatever. So, Serena inexplicably misses Blair the miserable bitch, but Blair is having none of it. Y’know, I’m starting to get why Nate doesn’t want to have sex with her — she is really, really unpleasant. At any rate, after her failed attempt at friendship salvaging, Serena runs into SteffChuck, whose father owns the hotel (naturally) and lures her back to the kitchen at the prospect of grilled cheese. But of course, it’s only a ruse to get some forced lovin’! Serena escapes, and crashes into Dan outside, drops her stuff, and is too flustered to realize she leaves her
glass slipper cellphone at the scene. Jesus! Is there any way possible this show could have more clichés in it?
Dan shows up to Serena’s place of residence to return the cellphone — only to get ambushed into a date as an excuse for Serena’s shrew of a mother, Lily (Kelly Rutherford, formerly of “Melrose Place”), as to why she’s not going to the A Kiss on the Lips party. But the plot thickens! Lily pays a visit to Rock Dad — whom as it turns out — she has a past with as a former groupie! Oooh, do I smell incest potential? The date, however, is cut short with an SOS call from Jenny who is about to get her ass dateraped by SteffChuck over at the party. Serena and Dan save the day, and despite getting punched in the face, SteffChuck is delighted by the turn of events if it means he and his cohorts can commit social assassination. Prediction: I’m calling it right now — SteffChuck is Gossip Girl. Okay, well not really — but wouldn’t that be great?
It’s a little early to say whether “Gossip Girl” is going to pan out, but aside from the clichéd plot and nonsensical preliminary character development — it’s got all the elements of good, smutty, check-your-brain-at-the-door soapy distraction: mystery, scandal, bitches, and blandly attractive actors who can probably memorize all of their lines. And when it comes down to it — what more can you possibly ask of a show like this, other than maybe Heather Locklear? (Note to self — pray to the Gods of television to cast Heather Locklear in a guest-starring role on “Gossip Girl”)
Stacey Nosek is a television columnist for Pajiba, and lives in a quaint little town in rural Pennsylvania. You can also visit her blog, Litelysalted.
"Gossip Girl" / Stacey Nosek
TV | September 20, 2007 | Comments ()