Gossip Girl Review: The Freshmen


GOSSIP GIRL: Solo cups, headbands, and Serena’s still an idiot. 2 out of 3 ain’t bad.

"We can both agree Asher Roth sucks, right?"

"We can both agree Asher Roth sucks, right?"

I can’t say I was blown away by this week’s episode, and GOD KNOWS we were all underwhelmed after that swing-and-a-miss that was the premiere, but it didn’t suck completely. In fact, it was one of the more true to life Gossip Girl episodes we’ve ever had.

After the prerequisite “where are they now?” episode, we finally had to face the music of college…and oddly, that music was real life Leighton Meester singing. Twice. Dan, Blair, Vanessa, and the kid who looks like a poor man’s Jacob Black are all at NYU, Chuck’s running Quantum, Lily/Eric/Jenny are irrelevant, and Serena is all about just messing her life up. We’ll address Serena in a bit, but let’s deal with the biggest waste of our time right off the bat.

Nate and Bree, fresh off their polo expedition (it still bugs me that an apparently competent Bree never realized that the polo match was an Archibald institution) decide that the only way to burn through their infant relationship is to lock themselves in a room until they hate each other. While this sounds like the pitch sheet for one of the worst reality TV shows of all time, it actually becomes the starting point to what should be a committed relationship (Which, by Gossip Girl timelines, will be all of five episodes maybe. Actually, five is pushing it).

Roommate Tony (texting thoughts from his girlfriend’s house) sent this gem: “The Nate storyline is like Romeo and Juliet if you didn’t empathize with either Romeo or Juliet.” I couldn’t have put this better myself. I thought we had made progress after season two, but the writers just seem obcessed with keeping Nate irrelevant. I’m sure he’ll make his way back into the herd, where he’ll fumble and bumble his way through conversations and the other kids will look at him like we all look at the last kid picked for kickball, but we’re not going to enjoy it.

Kill Nate Archibald. I’m serious. It’s the only way Chace Crawford can launch his anti-Zach Efron offensive, and we can talk fondly of Nate in the past tense. Win-win.

The Serena Cycle

In happier times

In happier times

And then there was Serena. Poor, sweet, gorgeous but not good enough for dad to interact with Serena. Serena decides not to go to Brown, which is a great choice by the writers to keep all the kids in one city, but mind-bendingly frustrating for the rest of the characters…save Blair. I thought it was hilarious at the end of the episode when Blair said she was happy Serena gave Brown the finger (Take that, hippies). It couldn’t be more clear: Blair is thrilled that Serena gave up on her personal growth so Blair could have a BFF to cry to when she doesn’t get her way. At this point we expect nothing less from Blair.

I loved that Rufus, like all Humphreys, thinks he can “fix” Serena. HEY! GET IT THROUGH YOUR THICK SKULLS! She can’t be fixed! It’s always the same! Serena will make passing gestures at improvement, maybe even going to class for two weeks, and then she’s right back into bar dancing and leaving dudes afloat in Santirini! She boned CHRISTIAN RONALDO! It ain’t rocket science! The chick’s got baggage you need hazmat suits to handle!
But I forgive you because every time I see your boobs it’s like hearing a child laugh in bright sunshine. That came off creepy, didn’t it?

I’m serious, though. If we learn nothing else from this episode, it should be what I call the Serena Cycle. It goes like this.

Serena’s an idiot. → Serena feels sad that she’s an idiot → People lend a hand so she doesn’t feel like an idiot → Serena does something idiotic. → Rinse. → Repeat.

I just. Don’t. Get it.

Chuck Bass is Roommate Ryan

Can it wait? I'm kind of busy being awesome.

Can it wait? I'm kind of busy being awesome.

And while we’re talking over the idiotic things that Serena does, let’s talk about Chuck Bass. In this age of period worship, where Banana Republic changes their whole store into the Mad Men costume department, Chuck still wears incredible purple shirts, paisley pocket squares, and purrs with the confidence only Bruce Wayne-like wealth can give.

Chuck’s storyline is almost insultingly basic for the Boy King. He wants to beat his dad’s record of turning a profit before he’s 22 (What happened to Victrola? Did the burlesque bubble burst?) so he’s buying a restaurant and turning the vault inside into a high-powered New York speakeasy. This is funny to me because Roommate Ryan has been plotting to do this for at least three months, which makes Roommate Ryan the proxy Chuck Bass of the week. Stop whining, peasants.

Of course Serena’s couch tour has a stop at Chuck’s place, and she immediately blows Chuck’s cover by once again thinking that people care what she has to say and opening her pretty, moronic mouth. Serena’s shocked that the well-dressed, clean cut guy next to Chuck would ever disapprove of a hidden club where the coat check girls give happy endings and provide Mary Kate with the means to kill off yet another celeb friend. Too soon?

Serena’s pride is hurt when Chuck rightfully tells stepdad Rufus to get the blonde squawk box out of his business and back into Brown, so she grabs Carter and they crash another one of Chuck’s business meetings. They swap “I’m Chuck Bass” stories, one including getting tossed out a brothel with the Italian Ambassador’s son (Chuck’s rebuttal? “It was a misunderstanding. Neither of us spoke Dutch.”) and basically act like petulant six year olds so Chuck can’t score a sweet party spot that could have turned into Gossip Girl’s The Max.

At this point in the series, I’d watch myself if I’m Serena. Chuck is basically running the nebulous, nefarious Quantum group of Bond movie fame. He’s got gold bricks, dossiers, satellite phones, and again, glorious paisley pocket squares. I give it half a season before Chuck just freaking loses it and orders a hit on Serena. Oh, shush. She’ll make it, but she’ll learn her lesson.

College! No step-parents! Wooooo!

No, look me in the EYE and tell me you didn't take my John Belushi poster!

No, look me in the EYE and tell me you didn't take my John Belushi poster!

FINALLY, let’s talk about Gossip Girl as a college show and why it was the most realistic episode of Gossip Girl yet.

In high school, I knew a guy named Rob who people could not stand. He was manageable, but miserable to be around. He attended Trinity with a couple other friends, and eventually word got back that Rob—ROB!—was the king of Trinity.

The lesson of course is that college heals all social wounds. You can be whoever or whatever you want to be, the past doesn’t matter. It’s kind of like the witness protection program, but with barrels of Natty Light.

So love it or hate it, Dan Humphrey is on top. And he’s got—wait for it—groupies.

Look upon this face and despair.

Look upon this face and despair.

Blair is immediately plotting to be the queen of NYU’s freshman class, which is kind of like winning five bucks in the lottery. She puts together a sushi and sake fest, but she’s totally shafted by Vanessa and Georgina, who have put together a tiny viewing party in Vanessa’s room.

Oh yeah, Blair, Vanessa, and Georgina Sparks all live in the same hallway. Ladies and gentlemen, fire up those communal shower fantasies!

We also remember that Georgina set it up so she’d be Blair’s roommate, which I can’t yet see the utility of. If this is a scheme (And come on, we know it is…right?) then it’s a REALLY long con that Georgina’s had all summer to plan, and with good planning comes the destruction of Blair Waldorf. I’m not sure yet if this is actually some part of Spark’s delightfully twisted plan, or if she just wants to make Blair feel uncomfortable for a whole year.

Anyway, the reason no one wants to attend Blair’s sushi and sake bash is Georgina tempting them with something that is WAY better: a Vanessa documentary about COMMUNITY GARDENS in NEW YORK CITY! Clear out the chairs, dammit! We’re gonna need more room!

"None of these people are plotting my destruction?? This is the best time EVER!"

"None of these people are plotting my destruction?? This is the best time EVER!"

Seriously? That’s what you do on a crazy night in the NYU dorms? You sit and watch some stranger’s documentary about city plants? Here’s how that scene would go down at my beloved Boston College:

GUY: Hey, a bunch of us are getting together to watch this girl’s documentary about plants—
DOOR SLAMS IN GUY’S FACE.
AFTER TEN SECONDS, I OPEN IT.
ME: Will there be girls?
GUY: Lots of girls.
ME: Give me a second to pop this collar.

So, come to NYU and watch stupid documentaries. No wonder Josh Schwartz has a boner for Brown.

Racing to the finish…Georgina throw a rooftop rager, though where exactly they’re having it (Is it on the roof of the freshman dorm?) and the reams of flyers hanging everywhere lead me to believe that NYU also doesn’t have freshman RAs, which makes complete sense for Gossip Girl until they introduce a sexy new RA who they’ll probably give to Nate since he’s the bizarro Vinny Chase right now.

Blair can’t stand that Georgina’s having a party, so she asks Dan to take her and makes yet another remark that this pairing is unlikely. So, for possibly the 24th time, and that’s NOT an exaggeration, Dan and Blair are an “unlikely pair.” How many more times do we have to see this before it’s just accepted? Again, I don’t get it.

Dan tells Blair there are no headbands in college. Girls laugh and tweet about this. I move on.

While Blair is speaking to people just after they arrive, listen to the music. It’s Leighton Meester singing. That’s right, as Roommate Ryan remarked, “She’s literally singing while she’s talking!” This multitasking is not enough for Blair. She calls G.Sparks’ Jesus Camp friends and has them crash the party, which is just a step below some prickly old dean’s scheme to ruin the party house and its lovable cast of characters.

Dan grabs a microphone (in other news, Dan has now embraced the courage that comes with one and a half beers) and tells Blair to step off when it looks like she’s got Georgina on the ropes. The rest of the crowd reacts as only a college crowd can in a series like this: they cheer as one, turn on Blair, and throw her off the roof.

Just checking to make sure you’re still reading.

No, the crowd jeers Blair and the DJ goes back to putting on the song with Leighton Meester singing…again. “We hate Blair! Let’s listen to her song!” Actually, those sentiments echo my feelings on Kanye West’s “Graduation” album.

So Blair feels defeated and goes to dry her tears on her billionaire boyfriend’s 2,000 thread count sheets. Vanessa and poor man’s Jacob Black talk about things that we immediately forget. Georgina gives Dan gratitude rooftop sex, which is the best kind of sex to have in New York City. I read that on Yelp.

CONCLUSION:

I'm not above shouting rape. Test me, Brooklyn. Test me.

I'm not above shouting rape. Test me, Brooklyn. Test me.

We’re in Gossip Girl purgatory again: it doesn’t suck, but it’s still not good. Unfortunately, when Gossip Girl has a string of these episodes, they usually have to get worse before they get better. However, I think they’re tackling the college issues fairly well (For some reason no tv show or film has ever filmed in realistic college dorms. Did you SEE the floor space? It was palatial!)

We’re going to see the Dan Humphrey/Georgina Sparks relationship that we never knew we wanted, but for those of you who hate this plot point, just wait four episodes. Dan usually can’t hold a girlfriend for more than five, and with the literary groupies giving him their best bedroom four eyes, you can bet on instability.

Nate doesn’t matter, and he won’t until he gets back with the rest of the kids, which was never really his strong suit. I mean, honestly, do you think the rest of the cast knows he’s still on the show? I bet you they photoshop him into the cast photos.

I just remembered that Chuck called Serena a train wreck last night, which did make me laugh. Honestly, find a direction for this character stat or you will be faced with a Marissa Cooper-like drift that will end with the best boobs on the show going off to roam England, looking for rock stars. Wow, life imitating “Art.”

That’s all for this week. Good to be back on the Gossip Girl wagon with all of you, and I look forward to talking with you all in the comments section. Drop your thoughts and tell me what I missed!

You know you follow me,
XOXO
Twitter.com/woodytondorf

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8 Responses

  1. Will someone get Carter a belt? He looks half dressed.

  2. Hey!

    I have missed these! =) It was very funnny. And yes Serena is still a waste of time/space on the show!

    “So Blair feels defeated and goes to dry her tears on her billionaire boyfriend’s 2,000 thread count sheets.” Ah..that scene was so cuteh!

  3. Lmao!

    I never understood the Georgina character? What the heck is her motivation? I’ve hated Serena for all two seasons, she was just constantly whining, at least now she’s tolerable, and we get badboy Carter back, since Chuck is behaving.

    You are right the premiere was a snooozerrrrr, this should have been the first episode.

  4. Great to have the review back. It’s the perfect fall accessory for the middle class, just like Malawi babies are for the wealthy.

    I’m really hoping that Blair’s next desperate tactic is to get Dorota enrolled at NYU as a Slavic Studies major so she has an ally on campus.

    Finally, I was looking through the prior comments and was enraged to see: “And yes Serena is still a waste of time/space on the show!” I’d like to nominate that as this week’s “comment most likely made by a female.” The Serena character may be an idiot, but she is never, and I mean never, wasting space on screen. Her HD appearances validate my belief in a benevolent God.

    And, while this aching worship of her Seren-ity may seem worthy of a restraining order, let’s remember that she put one on Carter, and look how that worked out for him!

  5. wait, why was the premier a snoozeerr ???

    • @ sari, it was all about the cast being good looking but nothing interesting happened. Serena was just plain adrift, Rufus was a non-factor, and the whole Chuck-Blair game was just a cheeky rehashing of their whole relationship in the second season. Nothing happened. All the momentum they had built up at the end of the 2nd season was gone in the first ten minutes. Nate dropped Vanessa halfway through Europe and became the bizzaro Vinny Chase with an inexplicably good looking girl that happens to be a rival, Dan did less than nothing, etc.

      It was a great looking episode, but nothing happened. The Serena dad storyline was just south of unbelievable. But that’s just me.

  6. I agree with this review word for word. It’s sad but I’m addicted to the show because of the music and the clothes. I pretty much just skip over the content and admire Blair’s headbands and Chace Crawford’s face. If I actually listened to what was going on, I’d probably die of embarrassment.

    • @ aliesha it’s actually kind of entertaining to see how much they’ve given up on the plot. When they try, they NAIL some episodes (thin line between Chuck and Nate, or the episode where Chuck invents a girl to MAKE Serena overthrow Blair, or the episode where Jenny becomes the new queen B, or the Bart Bass funeral episode) but I’m still waiting to see a glimmer this season.

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