Gossip Girl was probably my favorite among the last round of nominees, so I'm disappointed nobody else cared to save it. It's a bit strange for me to be doing this write-up because I personally would have never cut this show, as it's in my top tier of favorites of the game. I did save it once before at least, but I thought there were other fans in here as well. Anyway, Gossip Girl premiered on The CW in 2007 and ran for six seasons and 121 episodes. The series is based on the books written by Cecily von Ziegesar, which I have never read, but probably should at some point. I tend to love a love of shows and movies based on books, even though the changes made can range from harmless to outright aggravating. There are 13 novels in the series, which were published over a span of 9 years.
I don't really remember how I got into the show, but I guess I just saw the promo and it caught my eye. I loved watching these kind of dramas, and still do, so not really a surprise. My teenage self lived for the drama and scandalous lives of the Manhattan elite on this show. It is so far from how I am and what I know, so maybe that was part of the appeal. I was familiar with a few of the actors prior to the show, as well. Blake Lively was in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, also based on a book series (and one of my favorites growing up). Of course she's done a lot since then and this show, but that's where I first knew her from and I believe one of her first roles. Then, I knew Taylor Momsen from How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Michelle Trachtenbeg from quite a few movies and shows that I watched when I was a kid. So, there's that. Oh, and Steven may remember Chace Crawford from the time he dated Carrie Underwood. That was actually during this show's run. I know I remember.
It is hard to summarize six seasons of a show, and I also haven't watched it in years (but do hope to revisit it sometime soon). I'll do my best here though, as I want to do it justice. I will probably mostly talk about the characters and relationships, as that is what I think is the most important. However, I did find this link of a ranking of all the episodes: https://www.glamour.com/story/every-single-episode-of-gossip-girl-ranked Maybe some other big fans will enjoy this as well.
First off, Gossip Girl is narrated by the blogger known as "Gossip Girl", who sees all, knows all, and tells all... to everyone. Nothing can go down in the Upper East Side without Gossip Girl finding out and sending a phone blast out to each and every person. She would get "tips" from people who'd see or hear something and send it to Gossip Girl to announce to everyone. Kristen Bell voices Gossip Girl and is perfect in the voice role.
This intro is still one of my favorites and gives the chills. The music + the voice over... so mysterious and perfect. But really, the majority of the series focuses on the characters and their lives, and not on figuring out who Gossip Girl is (even though it does come up sometimes). I'll address this point more later on at the end of the write-up. But Gossip Girl would always blow up people's relationships and secrets at the worst possible times, causing even more drama to explode. We have to stan.
Gossip Girl follows the lives of a group of older teens turned young adults living a privileged lifestyle in Manhattan's Upper East Side. The character Gossip Girl recaps the previous episodes events with her signature line: "Gossip Girl here, your one and only source into the scandalous lives of Manhattan's elite." Classic. The series begins with the "it girl", Serena van der Woodsen, mysteriously returning home, hence the "where has she been?" whispering in the intro voice over. Now let's get to know the lead characters some more.
Serena van der Woodsen
(played by Blake Lively)
As I mentioned, Serena is the "it girl" of Manhattan, and a big target for Gossip Girl to report on. She returns to New York from boarding school in the pilot episode, where she must adapt to how things have changed in her absence, especially with her best friend, Blair, with whom she attends Constance Billard School for Girls. Her parents are William and Lily van der Woodsen, and her mom especially plays a large role in the show as well. She also has a younger brother, Eric, who is a prominent character. Selena is friendly and often too trusting, yet at the same time has commitment issues in relationships, likely due to her mother's failed marriages. Her biggest love arc was her on-again, off-again romance with Dan, who is initially viewed as an outsider. She also has an on-again, off-again relationship with Nate, who dated her best friend, Blair, for the longest time, so you can imagine drama comes from that. Serena's storylines often involve her messy life choices, especially in her romantic relationships. She dated a number of guys throughout the season, most notably Dan (of course), Nate, and a bunch of other guys we don't need to talk about (which includes Carter, Tripp, and more). She gets a lot of attention due to her good looks and charm, whether she wants that attention or not.
(played by Leighton Meester)
Blair is known as the "queen bee" of the Upper East Side, who is best friends with Serena, and cares a lot about wealth and status, maybe too much. She is an overachiever to the point of scheming and sabotaging others. Her parents are Harold and Elanor Waldorf, who work as a lawyer and fashion designer. Blair and Serena are best friends, but Blair often struggles with feeling like she is in Serena's shadow, despite putting on a confident face to the outside world. She even feels her own mother prefers Serena, which is so sad. Blair finds it hard to trust others, but is actually very sensitive and will fiercely defend those she loves. Blair initially has a relationship with Nate, but the majority of her romantic life in the series focuses on her roller coaster of relationship with Chuck. There was a third man to play a large role in her love journey on the show, and that honor goes to Prince Louis. Blair ends up marrying him, which briefly accomplished her dream of becoming a princess, only to discover he had ulterior motives. In one of the most memorable shocking moments of the show to me, right after they get married, Louis whispers to Blair that their wedding only stands as a contract, but he does not love her and will use her as his "wife" as long as he pleases. OMG I still shudder thinking about it.
Thankfully, Blair is able to get out of that relationship, and does end up going back to Chuck (but not before her random fling with Dan, which absolutely nobody asked for ) Speaking of...
(played by Penn Badgley)
Dan, "lonely boy," Humphrey lives in a loft in Brooklyn with his dad, Rufus, and little sister, Jenny. He is considered a bit of an outsider from the rest of the main characters, as he doesn't come from money and attends school on a partial scholarship at the St. Jude's School for Boys. He is an aspiring writer and can be described as sensitive and smart, although he definitely has other sides to him as well. He falls in love with Serena early on in the series (or technically has eyes for her before the series picks up), and they have a on-again, off-again relationship, as I mentioned earlier. He is best friends with Vanessa, who is actually in love with him, and they end up dating at some point because everyone has to date (almost) everyone else on this show. He originally hates Blair, but grows to like her over time, probably due to his relationship with Serena, his one true love.
(played by Ed Westwick)
Chuck is the "bad boy" of the series. His father is Bart Bass, a billionaire and owner of the New York Palace Hotel. He is often seen as manipulative and vengeful, but he does have a softer side to him, as well. He is best friends with Nate, and has an on-again, off-again romance with Blair throughout the series. His father ends up marrying Serena's mother, Lily, which makes for an interesting new family dynamic. He is adopted by Lily following his father's "death." This makes Lily the head of Bass Industries, and allows her to give it to Chuck when he is old enough. But then, Bart's death ended up being fake when he comes back. Chuck and his dad always had quite a difficult relationship, and things become even more interesting upon Bart's return from the dead. The tension in their relationship comes to fruition in the final season, where they have a physical confrontation a roof.
YIKES. That thumbnail (if you can tell) sums up the scene. Anyway, Chuck has a pretty hard and manipulative exterior, but he does have more lovable qualities too, if you look closely. His romance with Blair and friendship with Nate help highlight some of his softer side.
(played by Chace Crawford)
Nate is the Upper East Side's "golden boy", whose parents are Anne and Captain Howard Archibald. I don't remember much about his parents or how much they were mentioned or featured. Nate has a good heart and is known for being a caring and likeable guy. Fun fact I learned: Nate is the only main character who never sent a tip to Gossip Girl. Nate and Blair start out as a couple, as they have apparently been together since kindergarten. Despite that relationship, he seemed to have unresolved secret feelings for Serena, which certainly causes a lot of drama, and leads to some of the girl's fights and broken friendship moments. He ends up going back and forth between Blair and Serena, but neither relationship sticks.
Blair and Nate get back together and break up a couple times, but I believe they officially were over by the end of the second season. They remained good friends.
I want to say Serena and Nate's on-again, off-again relationship lasted through season four. He would fight for her, even when she wasn't sure, but in the end, it wasn't meant to be. They also remained friends. Poor Nate with nobody to love. Everyone knew Derena and Chair were endgame, but still.
He is also best friends with Chuck. I think most of the love triangles on the show involved Nate with two of the others. He also got himself into messes dating older women and forming inappropriate relationships, like with Catherine, who was married, who he sleeps with in exchange for money to pay off his family's debt, after his father fled the country. Ugh, no good, but such a tough situation to be in. Nate has a habit of always trying to please people, which certainly wouldn't help matters. And then there is his boss at The Spectator, Diana, who he also has a romantic relationship with. Poor Nate could never find someone right for him, and even once said he always chased after the wrong girls.
Those five are the ones I consider to be the main characters of the show. The show starts off in their final years of high school, and they are in college by the third season. I'm not really sure who my favorite is, as I like them all in different ways, but I always had a soft spot for Nate. I'm sure Wally will like to say why.
Other notable characters include:
- Jenny Humphrey (Dan's little sister, played by Taylor Momsen)
- Lily van der Woodsen (Serena's mom, played by Kelly Rutherford)
- Rufus Humphrey (Dan's dad, played by Matthew Settle)
- Eric van der Woodsen (Serena's little brother, played by Connor Paolo)
- Vanessa Abrams (Dan's best friend, played by Jessica Szohr)
- Dorota Kishlovsky (the Waldrof's housekeeper, played by Zuzanna Szadkowski)
- Eleanor Waldorf (Blair's mom, played by Margaret Colin)
- Cyrus Rose (Blair's stepfather, played by Wallace Shawn)
- Georgina Sparks (an old frenemy, played by Michelle Trachtenberg)
- Bart Bass (Chuck's dad, played by Robert John Burke)
- Ivy Dickens (imposter, played by Kaylee DeFer)
Jenny was one of my favorites, as she started out as this sweet, sheltered, innocent girl that I could connect with. She was always trying to get Blair's approval, but eventually came in to her own, as she rebelled from her "Little J" persona. She does a fashion internship for Eleanor and pursue her dreams of designing clothes. She also has a short-lived romance with Nate, as she develops a crush on him (which was so cute and relateble ) and they even kissed (not relatable ).
Lily and Rufus also have a romance throughout the series, which is awkward considering Serena and Dan. They previously dated before the series even began though, and had a secret child together, who was given up for adoption. That whole storyline came into play at one point of the series, as you can imagine. Even more awkwardness with Serena and Dan sharing a half-sibling. Lily and Rufus date again and get engaged during the show, but there is more messiness, as Lily was also married to Bart and technically still married to him when he comes back from the dead. Oh the drama. They don't end up together in the end.
I'd say the MVP of the show for me has to be Dorota. She is so hilarious and I love her and Blair's relationship. She's so lovable and would always be there for Blair to confide in and offer advice.
Then we have Georgina, who was definitely not my favorite. She's an old frenemy of Serena's who decided to make a return. I wasn't crazy about her, but she definitely added a lot of chaos and drama to the show, for example pretending to have a son with Dan. I seem to remember Wally being really annoyed with her. And of course, there is Ivy, who faked her identity as Charlie (daughter of William van der Woodsen and Carol Rhodes) to try to gain access to a trust fund. Just wow.
I'll now talk a little bit more about some of the core relationships.
Dan & Serena (Derena)
All the couples were on and off throughout the series, as I guess is natural to keep things interesting. Dan & Serena were one of the main couples, and the one who actually were together the longest. They start dating early on in the first season, and *spoiler* do end up together in the end. They are my personal favorite couple of the show. Dan had a crush on Serena for awhile, and sometimes I don't like the ~nerdy guy ends up with the popular girl~ storyline, but I really did love them together. One of my favorite moments from the pilot: Dan: "You'd really go out with some guy you don't know?" Serena: "Well, you can't be worse than the guys I do know." They often broke up, due to living different lifestyles, and dated lots of other people, but always found their way back to each other in the end.
Chuck & Blair (Chair)
This is probably the most intriguing couple on the show. Chuck and Blair have such an interesting dynamic. They first got together in an iconic limo scene following one of Blair's breakups with Nate. Their relationship thrived on the games they would play with each other, and also brought up concerns of if they could actually be a real couple without that element in their relationship. They could be kind of snarky towards each other, and not want to admit their feelings, but they were always there. Of course, Chuck took two seasons to actually tell Blair he loved her (and not in the scene of those gifs). The most memorable break-up of theirs came after Blair tried to help Chuck restore his ownership of The Empire Hotel, only to find out he had actually sold her out himself to get his owners rights back. Truly deplorable, but once again, they did resolve things, and end up together in the end. They were made for each other.
Blair & Serena (B and S)
Although best friends, these two did have a lot of falling outs and rivalries throughout the series. It started off rocky at the beginning, with Blair learning that Serena hooked up with Nate before she left for boarding school. Not a good look, but that accelerated that particular love triangle, as well as the ones Nate would be involved in with each girl and their later boyfriends (Dan and Chuck). The conflicting relationship made for interesting drama, but above all, they always came back together to resolve their issues and be BFFs. We love a female friendship that can withstand anything.
The scene that starts around 4:31 is one of the most memorable Blair & Serena moments to me, where Serena stops Blair from running off and promises her she'll help her get through the tough times.
And now, I'll address the ending of the series. In case anyone didn't already know and plans to watch the show, I'll at least hide this part of it.
So yes, the ending is quite controversial, but at least after that everyone lives happily ever after. I already spoiled the couples, so oops. But there is a five-year time jump in the series finale where we learn that Nate may be running for mayor, Blair and Chuck have a son, Blair is the new CEO of Waldorf Designs, Jenny has a business partnership with Blair, Lily is back with William, and Dan and Serena are about to marry.
I realize I didn't talk a ton about plots, and mostly about characters and relationships, but how do you talk about six season's worth of plots? Just know there is a lot of drama, mostly within romances and family relationships. The characters are all definitely flawed, but that is easier to believe than perfection. Even within the relationships, they do some pretty bad stuff towards each other, but it says something that they all overcome those moments to forgive each other and move on. Wow, who knew Gossip Girl could be so inspiring?
Gossip Girl was largely successful, especially among teens and and young adults. The show and its cast won 18 Teen Choice Awards, and the show has been adapted outside of the U.S. You can stream Gossip Girl online and it is also available on DVD. There is also a Gossip Girl Bus Tour that takes people around to areas of New York where the show was filmed. I have been planning a trip to New York for a few years now, and would love to include that in the agenda.
So, I said a ton, but I really loved watching this show while it was on the air. It may not some people's taste at all, but I loved the drama and romance of it. Apparently a sequel of the show is coming to HBO Max, which will pick up 8 years later and feature a new group of teens. Kristen Bell will return as the voice of Gossip Girl. Not really sure how I feel about all that, especially with a different cast, but I may check it out.
I will leave you with this video of Kristen Bell reading Donald Trump tweets in her Gossip Girl voice.