So the long cold winter is over. On Sunday, the temperature reached 31 degrees, and I spent the day at the beach.
Which means one thing: the television drought is over.
Oh, sure, the most wonderful show on television, Chuck, is not due to return til March (Have a Heart, NBC, and bring it back early. And if any of you out there have not watched it, buy the DVDs immediately). But the greatest show of our time, Gossip Girl, is back in about 13 hours.
So, as I idle away the hours during which I should probably either be sleeping or writing my assignment, I thought I’d share ten of the best reasons I love Gossip Girl.
1. The City as a character
Well, this is just obvious. But my goodness, New York is without a doubt the main character in the show. It has such affection for the city. Granted, it’s not a city I know well, nor a city I love (we’re just not the close, New York and I). But dammit, after watching Gossip Girl, I want to love New York. Also, eating yogurt on the steps of the Met has raced up my List Of Things To Do Before I Die. Met Steps, you and I have a date: December 29th
2. The Moral Ambiguity
Here’s the thing about Gossip Girl. There are characters who could loosely be described as “good” (Serena, Dan, Jenny, Nate), and there are characters who could loosely be described as “bad” (Georgina, Carter Baizen, Nate’s Dad), and there are characters who aren’t good, but are clearly protagonists (Chuck, Blair). But the best thing about Gossip Girl is that even the best characters do things wrong, and even the worst characters have moments when they come close to redeeming themselves. For a teen drama, Gossip Girl is remarkably good at challenging assumptions about every character.
(Though the fact Chuck Bass was originally a rapist may take this fact too far.)
3. The Seamless Integration of Online and Offline Lives
Watching most TV shows, you’d think the internet didn’t exist. Sure, How I Met Your Mother had the Slapbet countdown, and websites rate a mention here and there. But few shows represent how central the internet has become to many of us. We communicate via Twitter or Facebook, we find people via email, we google to solve an argument while walking down the street. When we get lost, we use our GPS to find our way. Life isn’t split up into Online and Offline worlds anymore- and Gossip Girl is the one show that gets this right.
4. Watching it is a communal experience.
Maybe it’s just here, but it seems to me that most people I know who watch and love Gossip Girl are the kind of people I’d like to be friends with. They’re the kind of people I enjoy chatting with. And, not coincidently, a fairly large proportion of my friendship group loves Gossip Girl. We had a Season 2 Finale Party. We’ll have a premiere party tonight. And when it’s done, we’ll talk about it. Watching Gossip Girl isn’t something you do in a vacuum- it’s a communal experience. It’s something to be enjoyed and relieved with friends. Countless hours of gchat will be devoted to tomorrow’s episode…. OMG, we should totally liveblog it. Or not.
5. The Clothes
Blair’s headbands. Jenny’s pseudo-punk disasters. Serena’s ever-new ways to show her cleavage. Chuck’s scarves. Chuck’s pink shirts. Heck, everything Chuck wears. We’d watch the show for that alone. Even though we don’t have to.
And speaking of Chuck, it would be remiss of me not to mention…
6. Chuck and Blair.
Oh, since the dawn of my television years, I’ve love many a television couple. Lynda and Spike. Uncle Jesse and Becky. Cory and Topanga. Josh and Donna. To name a few, of course. I could pretend to be all grown up, and talk about shots and plot arcs and characterization. But there’s on thing that brings me back to a show. One thing that makes me slavishly devoted to a show: a good romantic subplot..
And Gossip Girl has the romantic subplot mastered. Chuck and Blair have such natural tension that the will-they-or-won’t-they feels natural. Even the uneasy peace at the end of last season is certain not to last long. We know- as the characters do- that they are destined to be together. But we also know it won’t be easy. It’s a bittersweet moment, watching them hand in hand, because it can’t last long.
And that will bring me back, week after week.
7. The dialogue
It may be old and done, and nothing will ever beat Gilmore Girls, but who doesn’t love snappy dialogue brimming with cultural references. It’s the way I wished I could talk when I was 15, but I was too busy screaming and grunting and crying to actually manage.
8. Wish Fulfillment
Ok, so my dream life isn’t exactly like Blair’s. Or even Dan’s. But my dream life at 15 was EXACTLY like that. Because when I was a teenager, I didn’t dream of being a fabulously wealthy adult. I dreamed of being a fabulously wealthy teenager. And really, who wouldn’t? Combining a life of excess with the cares of a teenager… it’s bliss. And honestly, when I was 15, there was no problem I had that I didn’t think money could solve.
Plus, I always wanted to go to a girls school with really cute uniforms.
9. Interesting Gender Roles
I just can’t love a show when the women are all on the margins (nb: The Big Bang Theory). Too often, women are communicators who are simultaneously sex objects. While there’s no doubting the sex object status of the Gossip Girl girls, Schwartz continues to impress with his capacity to create interesting, complex, powerful women. In the world of Gossip Girl, women are smart and ambitious. Both the Van Der Woodsen household and the Waldorf household are single-parent families, with a strong, confident woman at the helm.
Also: straight men can dress well, be dreamy, write stories AND wear pink.
Shocking, I know.
10. Reading NY Mag’s Gossip Girl Recap.
It’s become almost a ritual for me. Every week, the day after Gossip Girl, I read the NY Mag Reality Index. It’s damn funny. Each week, it rates the most realistic- and most unrealistic- elements of the show. It assigns and deducts points at will, and ultimately rates each episode. For last year’s season finale, they described the first as:”More Real Than a Gay Kid Dreaming About a Waffle Maker “For So Long”. Such moments included: …
• Serena and Blair would totally go to Rouge Tomate. As would the Upper East Side D-bags who would think it was cool to see a teenage socialite perp. Plus 1, …
• “Pomp and Circumstance” is never played once at the Constance Billard and St. Jude’s graduation. Plus 5, because the only thing that would have made the Upper East Side moms throw their pearls faster would have been “Pachelbel’s Canon in D.”
• Ugh, of course Serena braids her tassel into her hair. Plus 2.
That’s right… it’s really that awesome.
And so, tomorrow night, I will settle down with good friends, popcorn, probably some wine, and greet Chuck and Blair like old friends. But not Vanessa. Because she’s boring.