This is a spoiler-filled rant about, what most people think, is my favorite show ever. So you’ve been warned.
Gossip Girl has dominated a significant portion of my life and it’s kind of weird that it’s all over. I’ve gone from feeling really relieved because I never have to watch new episodes of this awful show again, to feeling kind of, should I say, bittersweet?
There. I said it.
Honestly, this is simply due to the fact that I’ve watched Gossip Girl longer than I’ve known most of my friends. It is also because I’ve wanted Dan and Blair to get together longer than I’ve ever had a crush on anyone. This is why time is the greatest gift you can give, period. As long as enough time has been invested, some things just seem more important than they actually should be.
I often joke about how I’m a Gossip Girl expert. And I don’t think I should joke anymore: I am a Gossip Girl expert. I’ve stuck with the show through its good and bad times. I fell in love with it in its brilliantly, shamelessly soapy season one. I’ve rooted for the characters whenever there was some shimmer of redemption. Hell, I rooted for the show whenever it looked like it was going to become slightly better than the atrocity it has become. I’ve been genuinely upset and genuinely happy because of the show.
Before everyone gripes about how I should get a life and why anyone would ever let me attend college, I will just admit that, yeah, I genuinely have no life and in the past couple of years, making fun of Gossip Girl with my friends who do watch it and performing commentaries of episodes to people who have never watched the show before but wanted to hear me talk about it anyway have given me tremendous joy. I don’t actually regret any of that, even though I had to endure inconsistent story lines and horribly developed characters. I mean, it’s no secret that the writers pretty much bullshitted through the past four seasons.
With the exception of the Dan and Blair story line. For those who read my Twitter, know about my Tumblr, have read my previous blog entries about the show, or know me in person (please get off this blog, you’re kind of not invited), you know about my Dan and Blair obsession. I’ve secretly kind of wanted to see Dan and Blair get together since season three when Dan took Blair as his date” to Georgina’s rooftop party at NYU and started to take my Dan and Blair adoration more seriously when Dan and Blair danced together at Dorota’s wedding, but it didn’t become an actual life issue until season four, when we saw Dan and Blair road trip to Connecticut to take down Juliet.
There are seven episodes in season four that are absolutely wonderful, because of Dan and Blair. In fact, those were probably the best few weeks of my college life, thus far. (For some reason, I feel the need to apologize for all these hyperboles, even though the apologies don’t make them sound less pathetic.) Dan and Blair in a blossoming romance is an elitist Gossip Girl fan’s dream. Two of the most intellectually capable characters on this show, discussing art, film, books, working at “W”, taking caffeinated strolls and having intellectually stimulating conversations about pretentious things around Manhattan–and I wasn’t even jealous. Dan and Blair were living my dream romance and I was okay with being a mere observer.
But it was the banter. In season four, Dan and Blair had some of the best dialgoue I’ve heard in a while on film or on television. The verbal dynamics between the two characters reminded me of Golden Age romantic comedies, that of Wilder and Cukor. While aesthetically, this show has always been inspired by the glitz of glamour of Old Hollywood (all those Audrey Hepburn references!), Dan and Blair’s relationship epitomized the Old Hollywood screwball romance–and the writers knew it, as they showed the two watching The Philadelphia Story at Dan’s loft. Yeah, I realize that Blair is supposed to Tracy Lord and Dan is supposed to be Mike Connor, and they don’t end up together, I get it, but I couldn’t help but wish that in Gossip Girl’s twisted universe, this Tracy would choose this Mike.
This arc built up to the moment when Dan and Blair share their first kiss. Freeze frame. One of the most brilliant episode endings to any Gossip Girl episode, ever.
For some reason, when this totally good thing was happening, the writers decided that the “kiss” only made Blair realize that she loved Chuck, but then she decided that Chuck was immature, and the writers brought back Prince Louis and had him propose to Blair, and then had Chuck to throw a violent fit over it and almost punch Blair in the face, and then Blair got kidnapped by Chuck’s father’s business rival, and Chuck saved her, and Blair and Chuck had sex at a bar mitzvah to Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep,” but Blair remained engaged to the prince. And this was all supposed to make sense.
All this time, Dan was still hopelessly in love with Blair.
That was the reason I sat through season five. I held out for the hope that, perhaps, the writers would follow through with what they developed. The first half of season five was basically Dan being the ultimate doormat, but also brought us one of the best-told stories of unrequited love ever. I rooted for Dan because hey, who hasn’t been in that position? And what if we were able to live the fulfillment of our unrequited loves vicariously through Dan? The writers nailed that and topped it off, brilliantly, with a question of great truth, as spoken by Dan: “How do you kill a feeling?” I mean, yeah, the rest of season five was absolutely terrible. The climax of season five was the royal wedding, which we all knew wouldn’t end well anyway because no one gives a damn about Louis. No one actually thought he had a chance.
Penn Badgley and Leighton Meester just had too much chemistry to waste. However, the writers did follow through. We were rewarded with the two characters finally becoming a couple, after a year’s worth of development. This coupling was the most rewarding story line on the show because it was one of the few times that a couple didn’t just get together for the sake of getting together. They got together because they had over a year to prove their impeccable chemistry. Unfortunately, the whole relationship was doomed with Blair being hung up about Chuck and ultimately choosing Chuck in the season five finale, while Dan was seduced by Serena before Blair officially broke up with him.
Dan and Blair would never get any type of closure whatsoever. Blair spent the entirety of season six–with the exception of letting Dan crash at her house during that one episode–hating Dan, completely forgetting how he was one of her closest friends only a year ago.
Season six is probably one of the worst seasons of television in the history of ever. And I say that, not as a hyperbole, but as a personal fact. This is probably the worst final season of any show I’ve ever watched because it’s insulting to its loyal audience who has contributed to its dismal ratings, it’s devoid of any sort of intelligence, it’s inconsistent, and it doesn’t give a crap on whether or not it’s telling stories that are worth telling.
Sometimes I try to evaluate on whether or not I am just bitter about season six because of the dissolution of the Dan and Blair and the glorification of Chuck and Blair. I will admit, yes, that is a factor, but how can Chuck and Blair fans still be fans of Chuck and Blair? The writers did them a disservice as much as they did to Dan and Blair fans.
When Chuck and Blair first kissed in that limo in season one–that scene changed everything about the show. The show’s initial focus on the Nate, Blair, and Serena love triangle dissipated. Dan and Serena’s Brooklyn-Manhattan romance faded into the background. The show became all about Chuck and Blair. And deservingly so–Meester and Ed Westwick had such electrifying, passionate chemistry. I, for one, am ready to admit that I was once a Chuck and Blair fan–I wasn’t a hardcore shipper, but I rooted for them. I wanted Chuck to overcome his womanizing ways and I hoped that Blair was the one who could forever change him. I get the appeal of Chuck and Blair. It’s the bad boy gone good because of the girl. I get it. It’s cute.
There is some debate on when Chuck and Blair’s relationship got to a point of no return. Personally, I felt that the indecent proposal story line in season three when Chuck traded Blair for a hotel was a pretty major point of no return, but now in retrospect, I think if the writers really felt like it, they could have tried to fully redeem Chuck. I mean, that whole hotel trade deal happened back in season three, and they had three more seasons to redeem Chuck.
Therefore, they had a “redeem Chuck” story line in the beginning of every season since season three, only to completely ruin Chuck in the season finale and make me wonder why they even bother to redeem Chuck early on in the season if they are just going to make him so much more despicable in the end.
In one of the fuller reincarnations of the “redeem Chuck” story lines, in season five, Chuck checked himself into therapy and saved ducks or something something in Central Park. By the end of season five, Blair confessed her love for Chuck, only to have Chuck blame his recently-resurrected father’s re-possession of his whole company on her.
The problem with season six is that Chuck was already so unlikable that the writers decided to shit on their other characters so Chuck could look like a saint in comparison. Okay, I actually liked Chuck in seasons one and two because he was that lost boy who wanted his father’s approval and wanted to win the love of a girl who was fighting against her feelings for him. There was that sense of complexity to him that Westwick portrayed so well. We sympathized with him, despite the fact that he attempted to rape two girls in the pilot. It was like the writers gave up after the indecent proposal and just decided to make him an on and off asshole for the sake of drama.
I would have liked Chuck and Blair’s relationship if the writers didn’t decide to completely ruin it. It would have made the Dan, Blair, and Chuck love triangle a lot more compelling than it was. Love triangles on television are more intriguing when there isn’t a clear winner. What is infuriating about what the writers did was that, at that point, during mid-season four through mid-season five, Dan was clearly the “better” choice and the writers had to destroy Dan’s character to orchestrate an excuse to reunite Chuck and Blair, a relationship that had already crashed and burned.
And what’s even more ridiculous than Chuck and Blair is the Dan and Serena reunion. Honestly, fine, I can buy the premise that Chuck and Blair have always loved each other. Sure, they have been terrible people to each other, but who hasn’t been terrible on this show? And Chuck and Blair always returned to each other, no matter what, because the writers were always able to make sure that we remember that they still somehow cared about each other in their twisted ways.
But Dan and Serena made absolutely no sense. It didn’t make sense after season two. Even when Dan and Serena kissed in the season three finale and caused all that relationship hellfire, I kept thinking how I almost forgot that Dan and Serena were even together in the first place. Their love story was dead and buried back in season two, and the writers should have kept it that way.
And I liked Dan and Serena back in season one. There was always this sense that Dan and Serena was the more vanilla couple in comparison to Chuck and Blair’s antics, but there was something undeniably sweet and charming about their two worlds colliding. Yeah, Dan was always a judgmental prick to Serena, but it’s a pretty natural reaction when you realize that the girl who you’ve always idolized is actually a human being with flaws and all. But they could have worked on that.
While Dan and Serena did not suffer the gross turns of Chuck and Blair’s relationship, it seemed like, by season five, Dan had clearly grown out of his crush for Serena. He moved on! Serena should get over it! And we thought she did! Before she seduced Dan and told him that she was the one who loves him! And Dan was so mad at Serena! So it’s beyond ridiculous that they would get married at the end of season six. It just doesn’t make sense.
But I guess by the writers’ warped logic, we should all just end up with the person we liked back when we were sixteen. I would probably cry forever if I have to end up with the person I liked back when I was sixteen because we have nothing in common, he thinks I’m weird, and probably doesn’t want to be seen in public with me, so it’s never going to work out, thank God.
A major problem with season six is that it was so focused on Bart Bass, a character who you know, died in season two, was resurrected in season five, and became the supervillain of season six. The Bass Industries plots are boring because they are never fleshed out enough and they are just kind of weird and full of “psyche!” and “just kidding!” moments. I remember how in season four, Chuck thought his dad had burned down a whole building, except it was Thorpe all along, or whatever. Like, no one really cares or follows the logic. Whenever Gossip Girl wants to have a plot where someone does something illegal (e.g. Lily accusing an innocent teacher for statutory rape), the consequences just seem so minimal and you wonder why everyone was freaking about it in the first place. And these plots are also inherently boring because this is a teen drama and no twelve year old would actually care about the fate of Chuck’s company.
And this season, Chuck was so focused on bringing his father down. Chuck needed to stop feeling so damn entitled. Chuck would have had nothing without his father’s money. The first half of this very short season was dedicated to some international illegal oil trade that involved horses. The problem wasn’t that it was a Bass Industries plot, it was just so vague and boring. It’s not so much I hate Chuck at this point, it’s more that the writers are unable to write a decent corporate story line.
Chuck also watched his father hang off a skyscraper. Yes, I could accept that his father is evil, but Chuck felt no remorse as his father fell off that skyscraper. He proceeded to run away, making him seem more guilty than not. That was the moment when this show had become absolutely heartless.
So in the finale, Chuck and Blair got married and Dan was revealed to be Gossip Girl. Because that makes so much sense.
I think the whole concept of a wannabe writer and outsider “writing” himself into a world he wants to be part of is pretty clever and interesting, but that kind of idea requires planning. And obviously, the writers probably decided, late season five, on Dan as Gossip Girl for the sake of a twist because there are enough plot holes to defeat any logic in this sudden revelation. But this also shows the main problem with Gossip Girl: it’s a show with great ideas, but terrible execution.
So yeah, there was a Dan and Serena wedding in the flash-forward and it apparently took place in Chuck and Blair’s home. Everyone lived happily ever after. Eric was back for the wedding, Jenny was designing dresses for Waldorf Designs (hopefully Jenny starts her own company because Blair can’t design for shit–e.g. Sage’s cotillion dress–and Jenny actually has talent). Rufus ended up with Lisa Loeb. Lily ended up with her ex-husband, who told her she had cancer in season three, when she really didn’t, and unnecessarily emotionally manipulated Ivy to get back together with her (does ANYONE understand William’s plot at all?). It doesn’t make sense! Should I remind you that Dan Humphrey is also Gossip Girl? And after years of posting horrible things about all his friends, they accept him as one of them! Gross! This show has transcended all logic!
Nevertheless, this kind of oddly emphasizes my affinity for Dan. I related to the angsty, self-deprecating loner Dan, the wannabe writer Dan, the popular college Dan (being in college and suddenly having people who actually think what you say is worthwhile), the unrequited love Dan (with Blair), and now, we know he shit talked his friends online and shit talked himself in third person on his blog. There is probably no other fictional character who is living my dream more than Dan Humphrey is, so congratulations to him for being the champion douchebag. Except I would never marry Serena, sorry. So I guess what I am trying to say is that Dan succeeded by compromising his morals, on a pretty relatable degree, and that makes him probably the most intriguing character at the end of the day. Except Gossip Girl isn’t that kind of show.
I don’t doubt that the writers felt like they had some important things to say about high society. There is always someone looking in from the outside wanting to get in. And that applies to not just super affluent societies as portrayed in Gossip Girl, but in literally in every high school, on every dorm floor, in religious clubs–there is a definite “in” and the hard part is on figuring out how to get in. And the writers are addressing something that’s fairly universal, but they’ve done it in a sort of morally corrupt way. Yeah, the outcasts can go ahead and hail Dan Humphrey as their hero, but come on, this guy pretty much stalked his freshman year crush, built a website around her and her friends, and ruined her life and her friends’ lives on multiple occasions. And he still got to marry her, anyway. This show glorifies abusive relationships like no other, and pulling Dan and Serena’s relationship into that gross cycle is kind of the rotten cherry on top.
I am glad this show is over. I can now spend that hour of my week formerly spent watching this, doing more useful, life-fulfilling things. RIP Gossip Girl, 2007-2012. You are the worst.