As Cool As A Fruitstand

…and maybe as strange. A movie blog.

Guilty Pleasures: Gossip Girl

Posted by Hedwig on May 18, 2008

One of the reasons posting had been slower here of late, is that the writer’s strike has been resolved. And apparently, all those writers came back hungry for work, and eager to show off. As a result, I’ve often been neglecting movies in favor of scripted television. It’s partly because television is lighter, requiring the investment of a mere 45 minutes. It’s partly that television is easier, not requiring as much thought and analysis – I like to be challenged, but prepackaged entertainment is nice when you’ve been challenged by #$(*$@) integrals all day. And mostly: a lot of television series have been very, very good lately, and grabbing me like they haven’t in a while.

Only last week, for instance, I watched an episode of Bones, followed by House M.D, followed by an older one of Gossip Girl. Bones had a lighthearted episode, but it ended in a totally unexpected way, leaving me with my mouth open, vaguely articulating “wha?”. House had one of the craziest episodes ever, akin to Three Stories and the season 2 finale No Reason. It was called House’s Head, and it indeed took place largely in the head of a House who was trying to remember the 4 hours he’d forgotten before a bus crash. And what’s in House’s head? Bickering with Wilson, beautiful girls with soulful gazes, his superior Dr. Lisa Cuddy doing a striptease while rattling off medical terms… He almost killed himself in the process of course, leading to a last 5 minutes with a) a death scare and b)the revelation that another major character could be dying. I love House mostly because of it’s rigid procedural structure with all its fixed elements, and the quips in between, but when they stray from the template they sometimes produce amazing episodes.

But if I thought that was it for the night…. Gossip Girl had one of its wildest episodes yet – and that’s saying something. Not only was there plenty of bitchiness going on between Blair and Jenny, but two guys were outed, and in the end, Serena confessed she killed someone! OMG!

Ok. So, if you don’t watch GG, you’re bored right now, and wondering what prompts a usually fairly rational and feminist girl like me to dissolve into a puddle of OMFG!s. Wondering whether, perhaps, all those integrals might have made me go off the deep end. Worry not, and I’ll explain my fascination below the fold.

Gossip Girl is a soap opera. No doubt about it. But what sets it apart from your average day-time soap is that dramatic developments aren’t dragged out across a commercial break, or sometimes entire episodes, everything happens incredibly fast in GG. Take the episode I spoke of. There was no real hint, before it, that either of the two boys weren’t into girls. But then, in one episodes, we got:

-Two boys (Jenny’s brother and boy #2, who was set up as her love interest) don’t like Jenny’s new boyfriend
-The new BF was seen kissing another “mystery” guy by the brother
-Brother confronts guy, gets rebuffed
-Brother leaks news to Gossip Girl
-Brother tells Jenny’s mortal enemy that he did
-Jenny confronts BF, gets confirmation that she’s just a beard, decides to go along with it for the perks anyway
-Boy #2 is outed at the dinner table by the evil Georgina!
-Boy #2 is mystery boy!
-Boy #2 finally sees the BF was bad news, and outs him at his big party in front of everyone!
-BF denies, but mortal enemy stole his Blackberry and, after getting permission from boy #2, sends all the compromising text messages to GG!

See what I mean? It piles cliché on cliché, one dramatic development on the next (this was actually only half the plot, with the rest centering on the evil Georgina and her nefarious plans), and it becomes delicious campy fun in the process. I mean seriously, I think it’s almost impossible to watch this show UNironically…though I’m sure there’s plenty tweener girls who go.

It’s simply so over the top. In the 17 episodes aired so far (the season finale airs tomorrow night), there’s been, amongst other things: a suicide attempt, an eating disorder, a girl having sex with her best friend’s boyfriend, a girl having sex with her (ex-)boyfriend’s best friend, an attempted rape, a pregnancy scare, someone getting roofied, lots of drinking, quite a few drugs, a dad addicted to coke, another dad running off with another… man, theft, breaking and entering, blackmail, a sex tape, someone losing their virginity, someone pretending to have lost their virginity, a boy forced to continue dating a girl for his dad’s business interests, a mom about to marry someone else’s dad while she’s actually in love with… another boy’s dad, a masked ball with mistaken identities, a guy investing in a burlesque nightclub…to get back his father’s respect, the revelation that someone was in a treatment center an acknowledging it to hide who was really in the treatment center… and I could go on.

Of course, part of this show’s popularity is the whole “look! Rich people are unhappy too!” aspect of it. And the clothes, the glamour, and all that. But I believe that it’s greatness (yes, I used the G-word) lies in its total shamelessness. It seems there’s nowhere the show’s writers won’t go. It’s sheer campy fun, filled with great bitchy one liners, and one ludicrous development after the next. “OMFG”, the tag they put on a controversial poster, really says it all, and while I don’t actually say the words, I watch this show with glee.

Oh, and just as an added bonus? All the episodes are named after movies. The one I described, for instance, was All About My Brother, and others include Woman on the Verge (they like Almodóvar, clearly), School Lies, Victor/Victrola, The Wild Brunch, A Thin Line Between Chuck and Nate and Hi, Society.

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One Response to “Guilty Pleasures: Gossip Girl”

  1. I LOVE THIS SHOW!

    You rock.

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