Josh Schwartz doing what Josh Schwartz does best? We’ll have to wait until spring to find out.
Serena Van der Woodsen is many things – sister; friend; brother-lover; walking blonde-joke punchline; advert for how not to wear appropriate attire, ever – but she’s not known for being malicious. Or at least, she never has been during Gossip Girl’s colourful history.
But there she was, this week, doing her best to torpedo new it-girl Lola’s burgeoning showbiz career, not to mention ruin a party hosted by her supposed BFF in the whole wide world.
And then she had the nerve to get mad at Lola, for outing the fact the La Fembot is actually Mommy Dearest (and Nate’s former bedroom buddy). And to ask Lola to keep shtum about her Gossiping ways, to avoid her reputation (Ha, as if Serena still has one of those) being tarnished forever.
The problem with Gossip Girl this season is that it has lost sight of who the characters are. Serena works best when she is inadvertently – but never intentionally – stupid and hurtful, when she is caught up in her emotions and blind to the idiocy of her behaviour.
I’d believe it (in the sense that one should never accept anything on Gossip Girl as remotely plausible) if any one of the other girls on this show had opted to wield the laptop of power and hold it hostage from the real Gossip Girl – but not Serena. Blair, Little J, Vanessa all have it in them – they’ve all had a taste of power and enjoyed it. Serena, not so much.
It’s not just Serena, though. The writers seem to have reinvented their characters this year, and while I’m all for the gang growing up (hello, these crazy kids have now reached the grand old milestone of being above the legal drinking age – major maturity!), it’s too much.
Gossip Girl needs to get back to its roots. Blair is a schemer – as an adult her schemes should be more complicated and intricate, and the consequences should be worse – but after months of her kowtowing to Prince not-so-Charming, it’s time for her to regain her place on the steps. So instead of feuding with Dan about Brooklyn’s merits, she should have conspired to have him turn up at the hottest party of the year, trussed up like the escort she wants him to be.
And Nate? It was never plausible to have him in a seat of power, but while it was all part of Grandpa Archibald’s plan, it sorta worked. But why is he still being portrayed as a media mogul? Nate is at his best when having inappropriate flings with older women, getting high while the world around him erupts into crisis or flashing his dimples to get him out of any awkward fix. He should be in a fraternity house right now, engaged in hi-jinks to steal the rival house’s pet hedgehog, or something, not playing Murdoch to La Hurley’s Rebekah.
As for Dan; I never thought I’d say this, but bring back Little J and Vanessa. At least they have identifiable personalities, and at least their hair has the decency to be fake. Without them as a buffer, and a reminder that life is gosh darn tough when you hail from the wrong side of the Brooklyn Bridge, Dan is just another suited and booted piece of arm candy. Let’s have him working as the ice cool undercover reporter he thinks he is and getting into scrapes with devious drug dealers and dastardly crime kingpins, not fawning over a girl who made his life miserable for years and still doesn’t feel bad about it. He’s no longer a rebel and he no longer has a cause – even house-trained Rufus has apparently worked out that that’s not OK.
In fact, the only character who keeps it interesting anymore is Chuck, who delivered one of the greatest lines in Gossip Girl history this week as he slammed his newfound mother for her general awfulness. If he can find a way to publicly humiliate her and seize control of her media empire, all the while wearing an awesome cravat or somesuch, I might forgive some of the crud that has passed for storylines this series.
Watching this week’s installment of Gossip Girl (which was so bland that it didn’t warrant a recap), I was struck by how the Blair Dan love drama is reminiscent of another wildly popular and controversial teen soap.
I’m talking, of course, of Dawson’s Creek. Now on the face it, the exploits of the Capeside crew have little in common with those of the glamorous Upper East Siders we so dearly love to Gossip about.
The former were unfashionable, the high school pecking order’s outsiders. They were poor – not in the “I live in Brooklyn” mould of Dan and Jenni, but poor enough to have to waitress and put themselves through college.
They talked in long, luxurious sentences with the vocabulary of the Bard, and their dramas were invariably internal rather than the results of some convoluted plot or scheme.
And yet. When Dawson’s Creek began, the clear premise was that this was a love story about the boy and girl next door. The clue was in the title, this was about Dawson and Joey, about the obstacles they would face – but ultimately surmount – in their quest for happily ever after.
Yet from early on it was clear that the verbal sparring between Pacey – the intended “supporting actor” character – and Joey, was no match for her rapport with Dawson.
When they sailed off into the sunset a few series later, theirs was the romance we were rooting for.
I’m not sure if we’re yet at the cheerleading stage of Blair and Dan, but looking at it now, Dan’s relationship with Serena seems like the prologue.
Blair has always been the more engaging of the two girls, particularly in her days of scheming on the Met steps against the presumptuous Little J – but Serena’s character has barely developed from the flighty, whiny blonde we met at Grand Central. Her romances are fleeting and repetitive, whereas Blair’s are all great loves, marked by tragedy and anguish.
Perhaps that was what the Gossip Girl team was gunning for all along; the other happily ever after, the one you wouldn’t have predicted in the first place. I doubt it, just as I doubt that Pacey and Joey were anything other than a product of the writers seeing good screen chemistry that fans responded to.
But, as Gossip Girl moves to the twilight days of its fifth series (the point when Dawson’s Creek, too, was obviously doomed) it’s interesting to note just how pointless the majority of the supporting cast have become and how vapid the other plot threads are.
“Inside” is out and everyone knows exactly what Dylan Hunter thinks of Sabrina, Derek, et al.
Basically, Dan’s characterisations are pretty slim. Serena is a massive train wreck with a penchant for professors and dirty martinis, while Chuck has no friends and dies a Wilde-esque death.
Nate, as every true Gossip Girl obsessive has speculated for some time, is actually gay.
It’s not so much that that upsets him as the fact that he’s only a minor character, conflated with Eric. The revelation prompts some world-class pouting from Chase Crawford.
Of course, because everyone on the Upper East Side has suddenly developed superfast reading abilities, the author, though loved by the New York Post and Times, is soon public enemy number one.
Serena is mad because he got everything about her right, while Blair is pissed because he got everything wrong.
Specifically, he wrote that he and Blair did more than kiss, and Prince Dullard, who doesn’t have enough imagination for fiction, believes it. The plot threatens to torpedo their engagement, but unfortunately doesn’t succeed.
The person most upset by this – and this really was heartbreaking – was Rufus, confronted by his son’s belief that he is a gold-digging trophy husband with no career of his own. Which, clearly, is true.
But come on Dan. You don’t just announce a thing like that to the world!
In other news, Liz Hurley has fembotted her way into learning the truth about Ivy and now has the blonde fake working for her in her malevolent plan to unearth all the muck of Manhattan life. Too bad Dan got there first.
Next week: Gossip Girl does Yom Kippur, No, seriously. Watch the clip:
Sometimes, life and art are very far apart, for example when teen dramas feature characters who change clothes 18 times a day, wear hotpants and sparkling tops as dressed-down breakfast wear or pose as long-lost cousins in order to con heiresses out of their fortunes.
At other times, life and art are scarily interlinked.
It turns out Leighton Meester, known to the world as the Machiavellian mixer with a penchant for headbands on Gossip Girl, has something of a dramatic personal life.
Reports the Daily Mail: “Meester wants full custody of her younger brother because she believes their mother isn’t prioritising his welfare.
Leighton, 25, sent $7,500 each month to Constance Meester, to help pay for her illness-plagued brother’s ongoing medical treatment.
But in a lawsuit filed last week, the Texan-born beauty asserted that the money was spent on cosmetic surgery for her mother instead.
And now she wants to removed Alexander from her mother’s care in California, so he can live with her permanently in New York.”
As Leighton’s on-screen persona would probably say; how gauche to have such scandals palyed out in the pages of the tabloids. That said, with Gossip Girl on summer hiatus, bring on more of the same.
I’d like to hear how Blake Lively has insured her cleavage for gazillions, or how Ed Westwick is now a sworn teetotal.
I’d like to pretend that as a mature 20-something with a full time job, I’d be over all those silly American shows of my childhood. But Dawson’s Creek is currently queued on my Sky Plus box, while I’m in mourning over the end of the Gossip Girl series (recap to come). Clearly, I still care.
But with Life Unexpected and Greek (two of my favourites) canned this year,it’s time to find something new to series-link.
Every May, the US television networks announce their “fall schedules” – translation, the list of the good, bad and often horrendous television series they will be showing from September. I’ve looked through them all and it seems a good list, although there are far, far too many Lost-wannabees and sitcoms hoping to jump on the Two and a Half Men publicity bandwagon, not to mention a healthy dose of supernatural adventures. (Note to Hollywood. Get over Twilight).
The good news (in my view) is that Gossip Girl has been renewed for a fifth year, meaning that it has outlived Josh Schwartz’s previous foray into the dark underbelly of the lives of the rich and glamorous.
But one cannot dine on Gossip Girl alone (seriously, all you’d be eating is waffles), so what else is on the menu?
Hart of Dixie:
Fast-talking New Yorker and brand new doctor Zoe Hart has it all figured out…but when her dreams fall apart, Zoe decides to accept an offer from a stranger, Dr. Harley Wilkes, to work with him at his small practice in Bluebell, Alabama. She quickly finds that Southern hospitality isn’t always so hospitable.”
This sounds a lot like something that should be on the Hallmark channel, with characters in flowery dresses going to church all the time. It may well turn out to be, but the interesting thing about this is who is involved.
Rachel (aka Summer Roberts) will star as the newly graduated doctor who finds a last-chance job in a stuck-up southern town and has to fight her way through inevitable bitchiness and rivalry and romantic drama. So far, so yawn. I bet she meets a gorgeous stranger who looks after, I bet the mean girl isn’t so mean after all. Original. Er, no.
But she’s reuniting with Schwarz and Savage on the show, the team behind both OC and Gossip Girl, so, while it sounds like soppy drivel, it has potential.
“A woman who, after witnessing a murder, goes on the run, hiding out by assuming the life of her wealthy identical twin sister – only to learn that her sister’s seemingly idyllic life is just as complicated and dangerous as the one she’s trying to leave behind.”
This is a return to television for Sarah Michelle Geller or, if you were a TV-watching teen in the noughties and spent those years watching a small blonde girl battle (and occasionally romance) the genetically blessed undead, Buffy’s back!
However, judging by the summary, this isn’t Buffy at all. Identical twins? Life on the run? Wealthy? So far, so Sunset Beach.
Not that that’s such a bad thing. Sunset Beach had its charm (no, really, remember the demonic Jesus statue and the sinful shirtless priest? Exactly) But if you’re wanting a return to Joss Whedon’s smart and knowing pop-culture genius, I don’t think Ringer will be where you will find it.
But on the plus side, it also stars Nestor Carbonel (as in, freakish ageless eyeliner man from Lost). Speaking of Lost…
“From executive producer JJ Abrams…the chilling new thriller centered on America’s most infamous prison and one-time home to the nation’s most notorious murderers, rapists, kidnappers, thieves and arsonists. “
And guess who it stars! Hurley.Well, no, Jorge Garcia, but, but Hurley is back!! Phew, too much excitement.
Basically, the idea is: what if those creepy Alcatraz maniac inmates disappeared, then reemerged in modern life without ageing? Huh? Sounds deep.
It could be very good. After all, everyone was a wee bit sceptical when JJ Abrams said he had a show about a mysterious island, a plane crash, and the survivors’ battle to get home. (Hello, why wouldn’t they just Tweet HELP ME?). And Lost was a runaway success, not to mention the most baffling and mindboggling piece of entertainment around.
But, then there were the polar bears, smoke monsters, bearded evils and French crazies hiding in the trees. For all Lost’s awesomeness, it required a helluva lot of patience and a passion for obscure sites like Lostpedia.
So, note to Alcatraz team. Avoid the temptation to put in every ludicrous idea you have, and just stick with the really, really good ones.
Oh, and don’t kill off anyone called Charlie, either.
2 Broke Girls:
“A comedy about two strikingly different young waitresses who form an unlikely friendship.”
This show should be crud. The premise (metropolitan waitresses with baking business plan) is ridiculous and you just know that the girls will live ridiculously lavish lives that there’s no way they could ever afford if the title were true. Ref, Carrie in Sex and the City, Rachel in Friends, or anyone in what Hollywood imagines a minimum wage life to be.
Plus, it’s about baking. I bet they’re going to make it look really easy to make beautifully iced cupcakes and perfect pies. But they so won’t show the endless washing up once your cakes are in the oven, or the fight to get flour out of your hair, or the time the icing sugar packet breaks from both ends.
That said, Kat Dennings is awesome – both in the brilliant Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist and Charlie Bartlett. Great comic timing, realistic looks, hair that you just know goes frizzy when she walks out in the rain. So, definite potential.
“Passion, jealousy and espionage… They do it all – and they do it at 30,000 feet. The style of the 1960s, the energy and excitement of the Jet Age and a drama full of sexy entanglements deliciously mesh in this thrilling and highly-original new series.”
Wednesday Adams (Christina Ricci) as fesity air hostess. Curious. You can imagine the production meetings where they came up with this.
Writer: “So, I have this idea. It’s a bit like Mad Men…” Money guy: “Sold.”
But I do adore Mad Men…
So, I’ve been somewhat rubbish with my Gossip Girl blogging of late. In fairness, the show went on hiatus over December and then I moved into a flat where we had a problem with the internet – in that, we didn’t have said internet.
I’m back online now, and I’ve seen the first two episodes of this year. In truth, they’ve been rather dull. After the Juliette-Ben-let’s kill drug Serena drama of 2010, we’ve moved back to the Gossip Girl standards of ice-queen Lily, clueless Rufus and Serena the absurd-romance chaser. Rather yawnsome, really.
The Chuck mixing business with pleasure is too predictable, and the girl (am too lazy to Google her name, so she will from now be referred to as ‘the businesswoman’) is one cliché after another. Is she supposed to be Chuck’s age? If so, how has she completed her college education (and postgrad, because in America a first degree is worth zilch) and gained so much experience, when she’s supposed to be around Chuck’s age?
I realise nepotism, but surely a savvy businessman would only give his privileged and well-dressed but unqualified daughter the perfunctory jobs, like, ooh, organising cocktail parties and picking out his ties.
Plus, she’s clearly crap, she keeps telling Chuck all the information he needs to take the Chicago duo down.
Eric and Damian, wherever the hell that’s going, is just odd. I like how the writers, in what I assume is a bid to keep casting-search costs down, have just decided Damian will be the villain in whatever implausible scenario they’re running this week. It’s like going to see a play where the ensemble play rotating roles, only in Gossip Girl there’s not even an attempt to disguise the fact that IT’S THE SAME ACTOR EVERY WEEK.
I expect the rest of this series to involve him a) doing something to screw up Blair’s ambitions b) being the other man in the inevitable next stage of the Rufus-Lily implosion and c) kidnapping Dorota’s baby to exact a hefty ransom out of the VdWs.
But all that is small fry. Now, I realise that since the dawn of unrealistic but fabulous teen drama, there’s been a tradition of romantic swapsies. Joey Potter had flings with everyone – Dawson, Pacey, random guys, even Jack before he came out) and I think they paired Jen with a fair few. But it’s not necessary to do it when it gives the viewer a desire to either vomit, or throw heavy objects at the TV.
Buffy, for all Xander’s adoration, never returned the sentiment. And Marissa didn’t go off with Seth, nor Summer (except, for a brief second in the first episode) try it on with Ryan.
I realise that the idea of a fine line between love and hate works well in a show so centred around witty barbs and disparaging insults. But Blair and Dan. No. NO. JUST NO. Yes, they are funny together. But only because they hate each other, not because of any underlying passion.
It is not necessary to complicate the unadulterated snobbery and rivalry of the Blair-Dan relationship with, as I expect will happen, a secret, purely physical fling, that will then be discovered (probably at a fancy party) and cause yet another rift between B and S.
To refresh; Dan has been with all the girls except Blair (and Jenny, for obvious reasons). Blair has been with all the guys except Dan. Serena has been with all the guys except Chuck (and even that’s not certain) and Nate’s been with every girl who even made a guest appearance on the show except Georgina.
Writers, dear writers. This is no longer a Dawson-Joey-Pacey love triangle. This is just the start of a bad comedy film where the groom has had flings with all the bridesmaids, the mother, sister and cousin, and possibly the wacky aunt too.
There is a reason why such films are critical and box office flops. DON’T DO IT.
In a world where social networking is everything, what happens when the portal to it all stops working?
Yes, I’m talking about the unthinkable. If Facebook can crash for a few hours, so too can Gossip Girl. As with Twitter I’m betting there is a fail “headband” for such emergencies.
In what was the first of several bizarrely post modern interludes in the episode, Blair posed the Descartes-esque question: “How is my first day supposed to matter if Gossip Girl is not around to tell people about it?” A question Tweet-happy people like Stephen Fry might well emphathise with.
But no matter. Summer is over, the Parisian adventures a distant memory. School is back in session, with Blair in her rightful home of Columbia.
It seem’s less Serena’s rightful home when her biggest concern about starting university is revealed to be what to wear.
OK, we all think it. But you don’t say it!
Actually, what matters for the first day is entrance to some swanky student club. Blair gets in, but in a distinctly unusual twist of fate, Serena doesn’t. Mainly because Nate’s stalker girl is the gatekeeper and she has some bizarre vendetta against serena, ostensibly because she fancies Nate, but as we learn later due to some strange convict dude. Oh and Penelope, erstwhile Waldorf minion, is also a member.
Stalker girl tries a divide and conquer strategy with B and S, but they out fox her with a live-streamed faux fight complete with Polyester hair and judgemental sniping (as I said, post-modern). Then Lily makes sure she’s in the club, because apparently she’s on the board (is there a single pretentious organisation she’s not involved in the entire New York area?).
Still, good to see nepotism alive and well on the streets of Manhattan.
Back in Brooklyn, the woman most likely to steal Lily’s mother of the year crown has left Dan holding the baby. A baby who, as Rufus explains, is not actually his. And it seems Georgina has been at a spa for the better part of a century. Not ideal.
When said spa turns out to be St Barts, Danessa come up with a stellar plan to live in the loft and practice parenthood based on the guidelines of a very awesome early 90s fatherhood comedy starring Tom Selleck. Sadly for their domestic bliss, Georgie returns with a sob story and takes Milo with her. Bye bye, baby Humphrey. But hello, new and inevitably troublesome living arrangements.
Chuck, meanwhile, is a changed man. So besotted with European blonde is he that he discards his prized Little Black Book with the comment: “If a good woman can change me.” Bleugh.
Imposter-Chuck waxes lyrical about how she nursed him back to health (apparently we’re actually in the Manhattan of 1810) so Lily does what every loving stepmother would do and invites the pair to a fashion show avec the family.
Except, the family in question comprises of Rufus, Eric and the absent-but-not-missed Little J.
As in, the girl he nearly raped in season one, and successfully deflowered in season three (as Eric helpfully reminds Rufus during a touching bow-tie fixing scene). So, obviously, Rufus is just thrilled to have Chuck back.
Cue drama, but French girl doesn’t mind. Unsurprising, given that Chuck goes all Richard Gere on her and takes her on one hell of a shopping splurge – provoking possibly the best snobby socialite monologue Blair has yet delivered.
Luckily by then Gossip Girl was back up and running to tell the world about it.
It couldn’t have been a more dramatic previously on Gossip Girl. Which was apt, because it was a pretty dramatic opener for Season Four.
We rejoin our cast of fashionable folk in Paris, a city of paintings, pavement cafes and pretentiousness – in other words, a Paris dreamt up in a writers room in Manhattan.
Yet while we are far from New York, when it comes to Serena and Blair we’re back to the good old days. S is slutting it up (bartenders, waiters, guys with Vespas – she’s as discriminating as ever) and B is, well, not.
But of course, summer must come to an end.
Blair is off to Columbia, while Serena is off to Brown and out of Blair’s jealousy zone. Right? RIGHT?
Well, no. Despite being possibly the most ridiculous and brainless blonde ever to grace TV screens, S has been accepted to Columbia too. Columbia alumni include both Roosevelts and Supreme Court judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg, so clearly it’s just the place for our Serena.
Maybe the admissions officer drives a Vespa.
Of course, the college clash creates a typical B versus S bitch fight, played out in their tried and tested passive aggressive boy rivalry. In a nutshell: Blair meets a man over a Manet who has almost as appalling an accent as the fake British prince / duke / random aristocrat from season two.
Prince turns out to be more pauper, with the real deal Serena’s date for the night. With the inevitable consequence of Serena being pushed into the fountain. Been there, seen that.
Back in America, Nate, in his bid to become the male Serena, is working his way though a veritable yellow pages of one night stands.
They are all hideous caricatures of women, necessitating a particularly hammish meet-cute with a blonde-with-book. Naturally, she’s the new woman in Nate’s life, and just as naturally, she’s stalking him.
Why is that most stalkers look, well, like stalkers, and on Gossip Girl they look like they have stepped out of America’s Next Top Model?
Dan meanwhile, is doing the Dad Thing. Which, because this is an in-no-way-plausible teenage drama, is actually going OK.
Shocking, given his Gina Ford of choice is Nate – who, come to think of it if current behaviour continues may find himself in a similar predicament.
In case he isn’t aware of how insane the situation is, Vanessa is back from saving the world to tell him. Complete with even more hair extensions and some choice ‘wacky’ traveller bracelets.
Rufus, sporting a dashing new haircut, is missing his psychotic daughter (guess absence really does make the heart grow fonder) and being left out of Lily’s life again. And Dan’s, although Georgina clears up baby-gate for him soon enough (then ups and leaves Dan holding the baby).
What is preoccupying Lily is Chuck, last seen stabbed in fake-Prague. He’s in financial trouble – this show being all about the politically resonant storylines.
So Lily gets all Harriet the Socialite and starts digging – suspecting something is up from the “second class train tickets” charged to his card. Turns out he’s gallivanting around Europe in Shakespearean tragedy mood, and what do you know, he’s headed to the same place as Blair.
Though Lily thinks he is dead, which means we may still get the answer to that age-old question; who exactly would come to Chuck Bass’ funeral?
Lots of new haircuts, same old angst. A fine return, on balance, though one criticism. Katy Perry? On the Soundtrack? Josh Schwartz, I expected better of you.