TV alert: “Gossip Girl” gets back to work


Some TV shows you love. Some TV shows you hate. It’s pretty simple. But then there are those shows you love to hate, and others you hate to love! Well, dang it, I hate to love Gossip Girl. But I do. I have fallen for it.

Photo credit: The CW/Andrew Eccles

I’m sure it’ll break my heart, though. I know that Gossip Girl could so easily slip and slide into the trite and predictable vortex of suck that has swallowed up many of its teen drama predecessors. But the show, in its first year, is still trying to find its way, and it’s actually doing it with much more skill and poise than I would have ever imagined after watching the pilot.

But rather than be concerned about the future, I will live in the now and simply say Yay! to the return of the show tonight on the CW on a new night (Monday) and at a new time (8:00 p.m. ET). Yes, I have a show crush!

There are five new episodes in store, and I’m as joyful about this as a 14-year-old who’s been given an iPhone with a free unlimited text plan! The show stars Blake Lively, Leighton Meester, Taylor Momsen, Penn Badgley, Chace Crawford, Ed Westwick and the voice of Kristen Bell as Gossip Girl. Oh, and for Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans, you may like to know that Michelle Trachtenberg is hitting the Upper East Side of Manhattan soon for a few episodes, and it should be fun to see what damage she may cause.

Trachtenberg in the upcoming episode “Desperately Seeking Serena”

Photo credit: Giovanni Rufino/The CW

I’m watching this show cold. I haven’t read the books, and I haven’t read any spoilers, so I’m just digging what’s going on in each episode with no expectations or comparisons — and I’m loving being ignorant. It’s bliss, so far. I do know that there is much more gay and lesbian content in the book series, and time will tell how the TV show addresses the same content. I’m thinking they have to at some point, right?

Hmm, so where did things leave off? Oh yeah:

Blair was at the airport, ready to flee to Europe to be with her gay dad and his lover, running from her sudden dethroning (Gossip Girl posted the truth that Blair had been with both Nate and Chuck within days of each other, and that she had a pregnancy scare to show for it).

Leighton Meester as Blair

Photo credit: Eric Liebowitz/The CW

Serena was rushing to the airport to catch Blair before she left, and to give Blair hugs and loving looks (girl love subtext, anyone?) and promises to help Blair regain her honor and reinvent herself. (Serena has some knowledge of reinvention, having gone from out-of-control bad girl to a pretty wonderful and decent human being. Can Blair follow? Nah.)

Blake Lively (left) as Serena and Meester as Blair

Photo credit: Eric Liebowitz/The CW

Jenny, the not-rich girl but wannabe in the in-crowd little sister of Dan, was last seen social climbing all over Blair’s fall from grace, practically leaving footprints and tread marks on Blair’s ass).

Taylor Momsen as Jenny

Photo credit: Eric Liebowitz/The CW

Dan and Serena, at last, professed their love for each other (which gave me a serious case of the uh-ohs).

Penn Badgley (left) as Dan and Lively as Serena

Photo credit: Eric Liebowitz/The CW

Nate and Chuck hated each other (OK, that’s a clean sweep — everyone now officially hates Chuck) because Chuck (with the girl’s permission for a change and some actual tenderness, who knew?) limoed (rather than bedded, because that’s how Chuck rolls) Blair, the love interest of his best friend, Nate.

Ed Westwick as Chuck (left) and Chace Crawford as Nate

Photo credit: Eric Liebowitz/The CW

Good stuff, I tell you, and I haven’t even talked about the main character’s mamas and daddies and their respective story lines! Although, speaking of parents, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Serena’s mother and Chuck’s super-rich father are in the process of marrying. Oh my, having Chuck Bass as a stepbrother is enough to contemplate suicide or homicide. Poor Serena!

Tonight’s episode, “The Blair Bitch Project,” focuses on Blair’s return to school and her attempts to regain what she has lost. Here’s a clip:

Goodness, that clip was brutal! My, how the mighty have fallen. Serena trying to teach Blair to understand what the rest of us learned in kindergarten — the social need to be “nice” — is more painful than watching Blair actually try to do it! Ouch. And how in the world have I come to have sympathy for Blair anyway? Yes, the show is more nuanced than I originally gave it credit for.

If you haven’t been following the show, episode synopses can be found here or here, and CW has four previous episodes available for streaming here. Although the first 13 episodes were rich in narrative tidbits, it’s nothing that a new viewer can’t catch up on. And though the show’s premise is rich kids and their problems, displayed for their small, cliquey universe to know through an anonymous blogger and gossip, the writers have struck a great balance of making these folks full and complete characters and not caricatures, and that in and of itself deserves applause.

In a recently announced change, the CW will not be streaming the new episodes on their website, in hopes of actually boosting their TV ratings. But if you miss the first-run show which airs on Mondays at 8:00 p.m. ET, you can catch encores of the previous week’s episode on Sunday nights at 6:00 p.m. ET.

We’ll also be blogging about the show for the next few weeks. They won’t be recaps, because there are no lesbian characters — yet! Heh. These blog posts will just be opportunities to talk about this queer-friendly and subtext-heavy show.

So, are there any fans of Gossip Girl out there? Anyone else feel sympathy for Blair? In order for Blair to reclaim her status, does it mean she has to socially destroy someone else? And why did Serena and Dan telling each other they love each other make me think they are doomed? Am I being too pessimistic? (Please remember that if you know any spoilers, please mark them prominently!)

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