Giant-sized Gossip Girl Review: The Kids Aren’t All Right

Gossip Girl Review: Dan and Blair. Yeah. You read that.

This is happening. Just accept it.

Okay! Let’s shake off the rust here for a second. It’s been a dog’s age, friends, lovers, and thieves. I think my last review was somewhere at the start of season three around the time that Gossip Girl decided to just go off the freaking rails and I swore I’d never love again.

Then people started paying me to write about TV.

SHAMELESS PLUG: My new show, bought and paid for by Hulu, where I write with brilliant folks about TV. It’s called The Morning After, and it’s on Hulu every weekday. I feel dirty doing that, but that’s why I watched Gossip Girl last night and why I’m back to doing this.

Also, I now have help. Very witty, New York-based, wonderful to look at, delightfully English help. Learn who it is after the jump.

Dream Team!

Fans and supporters, please greet Mememolly, host of Rocketboom, Gossip Girl diehard, and all around swell gal. She’ll be joining me on these sojurns through the urban jungle and believe me when I say I need all the help I can get. So from now on, there is no “I” in “Team-up,” but there is a “me” (memolly.) Unless we feel quite strongly about something, we’re switiching to the royal “we.” I’m not sure what the royal we means, I just like the sound of it. Also, in case these last rambling paragraphs haven’t been an indication, our return is going to be pretty stream of consciousness. Hey, worked for Montaigne (get cultured, suckas.)

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Hey, I can see the next girl I'm going to have sex with from here!

So we’re back, about 13 episodes into a 22 episode season and we practice the time-honored Gossip Girl tradition of pressing the giant reset button and putting everything more or less back to the status quo. Chuck’s still has sex in limos, Blair is still conniving and awesome, Dan inches ever closer to becoming the villain we know he should be, Rufus is a paper weight, Lily’s in the Gold Digger Hall of Fame, and we hate Serena with the same intensity that we despise PT Cruisers.

At the end of 2010, Serena was in a mental institution for being the dumbest female character in the history of television drugged, framed to look like an overdose, and left in a motel room by this girl Juliet whose brother was wrongfully accused of statutory rape by a drug dealer who once kissed Serena and sent to prison for at least five years by Lily, who forged Serena’s signature in some weird form of Gold
Digger Vigilantism oh Jesus we have a collective nosebleed.

The whole first half of the fourth season was spent on Juliet’s quest to destroy Serena’s life like she destroyed Juliet’s brother Ben’s, and at the end of last year, Juliet confronted Serena with all of this…and Serena not only quasi-forgives Juliet, Serena launches herself into a vindictive rage to take down her mom.

Why? You have to understand that Gossip Girl takedowns work like the food chain. You go for the top KNOWN predator in any situation, regardless of how shitty those doing the grunt work behave.  Also, you’d be foolish to try to understand Lily’s motivation for doing anything. It’s usually just out of boredom.

Let’s just do the short math on this. Juliet: Ruined your life at every point for months, put you in a mental institution for an overdose you didn’t commit. Slandered your name up and down. Napalmed your social life. Kidnapped and drugged you (bee tee dubs, Federal offense.) And your response…is to go after your mom? Spoiler Alert: at the cost of the one guy who can actually, truly stand you?

Serena has to be the least intelligent female character in television. Can you really challenge us here?

So what does Serena plan to do? She’s not sure, her plan to track down the judge that sentenced Ben was epic fail because we’ve already covered that Serena’s dumb as pinecones. Even Blair, when Serena starts complaining about the process to get the documents, sighs, mentally rolls her eyes, and asks, “Because you realized court records are open and you don’t need a push-up bra to see them?” Serena needs to speak to this judge or find the document Lily forged to really stick it to her own mom who is single-handedly keeping Serena housed, fed, and not getting accidentally married in Spain. Again.

Luckily, the one person who hates Lily more than her own daughter is Chuck freaking Bass.

This is going to be lovely.

The Gossip Girl kids are the inverse Mystery Gang

Does this have anything to do with Gossip Girl? Do you *really* care?

If we’ve learned nothing from Gossip Girl, it’s that the kids are never bigger failures than when they plan some scheme on their own. They’re like the opposite of Scooby Doo and the Mystery Gang…though I think we all know Velma was the workhorse of that team. But here’s how this plan might –might– work out.

Chuck wants to take Lily down because Lily is selling Bass Industries, the company Chuck’s dad built from the ground up and Lily fell into because, like I said before, she’s in the Gold Digger Hall of Fame. Seriously, give her one more season and I might crown her Queen over Julie Cooper-Nichol-Something from The OC, except Lily’s never tried to poison someone. Yet.

At least Julie slightly cared about Marissa. Lily is super inconsistent at being a good mother. She’s always forcing her kids to do difficult things, albeit sometimes for hilariously questionable reasons. Has she ever really made an effort with Dan or Jenny? Sometimes she’s affectionate towards her two real kids, but strangely never as much as she is to Chuck despite the fact that more than half of her stepmotherhood has been consumed with him loathing her. Maybe because she’s mostly responsible for Bart Bass’ death? Dark? Yes. Untrue?

By the way, And how old is Eric supposed to be now? 16 or 17? He’s arguably the most normal character so we’d hate to see him be written off into college and a normal life, but at the same time we’d would be TOTALLY happy for him. Kind of like Walt and Michael getting off the island in “Lost.” Just leave the dog, please. Thank you.

"I built up a resistence to roofies just in case I get careless. Freshen your drink?"

Chuck finds out through an attractive African-American lady, who is clearly not a secretary though Chuck treats her like one, that BI is going to be sold in 24 hours. Meaning we have a clash of the titans that will be resolved by the end of this episode.

Chuck Bass vs. Lily Van der Woodsen-Bass-Humphrey. We’re talking Chuck Bass, who invented a person so he could de-throne Blair in high school just out of sport…the same Chuck Bass who actually drew up plans to crash his uncle’s private plane though nothing ever came out of it.

He’s got 24 hours to save his father’s empire and he’s recruited Serena to shape into his clay figure of vengeance, which has worked, what? Once? Twice? Why does Chuck always pick Serena first for Revenge Kickball? For some reason (despite his willingness to go along with Serena’s own stupid plans) isn’t he intelligent enough to realise she is a well-breasted plum?

The bright side: Their plan revolves around blackmail, which, if we’re talking about Chuck Bass, is kind of like giving a can of paint to Jackson Pollock and saying, “I’m sure you could do something with this.” Sorry, we just started clapping excitedly in unison and we already saw how it ends. This is how much we love this show.

Chuck starts by lifting Lily’s passport and gaining access to her safety deposit box by pretending Serena is Lily. This leads to an amazing exchange when Serena is mildly miffed to be playing her mom:

Serena: So who are you supposed to be? My son?
Chuck: Is it weird hearing you call me that turns me on?
Serena: This better be worth the therapy.
Molly: She says it so offhandedly with an air of self-awareness. We’ve seen she has no commitment whatsoever to any sort of mental rehabilitation. Its nice that we can joke about these things.

Every time Serena uses the term ‘affidavit’, you can’t help but roll your eyes and remind yourself that in THIS reality, this girl was accepted to Yale (And Nate was being groomed to be a Supreme Court Justice.) You have to love the scenes of her sitting in dimly lit rooms with Chuck and others looking over legal documents. We like to imagine the thought process she goes through while trying to look like she’s reading and understanding words like ‘affidavit’, when she’s really thinking about what strange new way she can wear her hair up.

Of course they find what they need to get Ben out of jail and to throw turmoil into the sale of Bass Industries, but not before Lily tells Chuck that BI is being run into the ground, at which point we all think, “Of course it is! In no way are either of you qualified to run a multi-billion dollar company! Chuck barely graduated high school! You’re a gold digger! This is not hard to figure out!”

Lily’s hoping to sell the company to a private bidder so someone can’t swoop in, dismantle the place, and disintegrate the last proof that Bart Bass existed. And if Chuck thought that was a lie, he immediately bumps into obviously-not-a-secretary girl Raina, whose dad Russell Thorpe was run out of town by Bart Bass and tells Chuck to his face that if he ever got control of Bass Industries he’d do exactly that.

"King Kong ain't got shit on ME!"

Oh, and Lily slept with Russell Thorpe. Have we gone over that Lily’s little black book is the yellow pages? It must drive Rufus crazy to meet so many assholes at parties who quietly judge him for committing himself to the glorified Zipcar of the UES. Does he just pretend that it isn’t happening? That seems to be his coping mechanism. That, and playing the guitar every six episodes to remind us he was in a band once.

Chuck wisely pumps the brakes, but he forgets that he employed Serena, who transforms into a runaway freight train of misguided emotions and will simply not be stopped because she can only focus on one thing at a time or her head will explode. The second, or possibly third thing that she was supposed to be concentrating on? The people’s champ, Dan Humphrey. Yeah, you heard us. We’ll say it again in bold.


"Hi, I think I left my character here somewhere around season two. Could you look behind the desk? I'd like it back."

Look, it’s no secret that we hate Dan’s character. Nothing against Penn Badgley, it’s just Dan’s been written like an idiot and, frankly, a douche that he doesn’t deserve…and most of that comes from this idiotic yo-yo with Serena that some days makes us scratch my head and most days makes Woody weep silently into his Sam Adams.

But today, friends, Dan Humphrey was a goddamn Homeric hero…and the results of him being awesome may be UES-shattering.

After the events of OPERATION: SERENA’S NOT A DRUG ADDICT, Blair called Dan out on bad writing bad life choices. Dan’s a writer…what was the last thing he wrote?  (Carrying around the ‘James Franco: is he for real?’ issue of NY Magazine doesn’t count, Dan.
Of course Dan would be impressed by the over-accomplished yet overwhelmingly sloppy work that Franco produces. Franco is sexy, smart & talented to a degree, Humphrey. A five-episode arc with Hillary Duff does not make you James Franco…though it does make us insanely jealous.)

Back to Blair smackdown! Dan kind of stalks Serena (Is it stalking if they stalk back?) etc. This has been going on for all four seasons. Blair likes to think she’s above Dan, but there’s only so many times (approx. 23 by our count) that Blair has said to Dan, “You’re beginning
to show some use, Humphrey.”

They’ve teamed up more than Spider-Man and Wolverine but still Blair insists she hates the Pride of Brooklyn…but she’s not above giving advice on Serena. Dan is not above listening to the criticism and is now actively trying to get an internship…hasn’t Dan been trying to do for a season and a half now? Look Dan, we know the whole Tisch application fiasco with Vanessa may have bruised your confidence, but maybe you should head down to Housing Works and chat up James Franco for help? We’re just saying, a James Franco cameo on Gossip Girl would blow up the world. He’d totally do it. James Franco will do anything if he’s awake.

"Cameo in a Nolan flick? Shakespeare in the park? Hopscotch? Whatevs, I've got fifteen minutes."

After Dan calls Serena out on letting Juliet off the hook for committing federal-level crimes against her, Dan camps out at Serena/Blair’s apartment, thinking that Serena knows how to read a clock and Blair says, “Ten bucks says you miss your interview waiting for Serena.” Dan expertly fires back with “Ten bucks says whatever hare-brained scheme you’ve got cooked up blows up in your face,” and Dan is already
counting that cash because he knows whatever Blair is trying at that point will fail because, well, they’re them.

Frankly, this was kind of a missed opportunity by Blair to say that ten bucks to her is barely pocket change while it may feed Dan for a week. Why did she pull her punch? We’ll get to that.

What Blair is trying to do is get a position with some woman of power but all you need to know is that Dan was right, Blair’s plans fail if she’s not teamed up with Chuck or fighting under her social weight class, and she’s going to work with her mom…Which she ultimately learns from a piece of paper pinned to a naked sewing mannequin – oh the symbolism! It’s totally harsh, but at least it wasn’t a text message.

In defense of Eleanor Waldorf: She was probably scared of hurting her daughter by simply making a good business decision & couldn’t say it to her face right away. I mean they talk it through later and then Eleanor is all supportive of something Blair may actually be good at. Lily and Eleanor should hang out more often – without any boring power struggle. Maybe they can have brunch with Cyrus & Rufus!!

Over the episode, Dan is shown time and time again what we already know: Serena only cares about herself, she’s stupid and may be kind of crazy, and she takes Dan for granted in some moronic game to see if he’ll still care about her when she really goes off the rails. Does this not sound ridiculous to anyone else? Oh, and just to make sure you’re keeping score at home: DAN AND SERENA ARE STILL ABSOLUTELY RELATED. You can’t escape this! You even boned after you found out you’re related…and somehow the Parent’s Television Council is more concerned about “Skins,” on MTV?

But here’s why Dan is great in this episode: even when he’s self-deprecating, he’s calling Serena out on her crazy. Serena was too busy digging for blackmail to take a cab with Dan to his interview? “It was my own fault for thinking you would be on time.” Serena somehow thinks Dan will get a second chance at his interview? “Normal people don’t get endless second chances. That’s just you.” Broheim was on
fire. And before you can rebut, “He’s just being a dick,” when it came down to it and Serena was going to actually firebomb the last chance Ben had at getting out of jail, Dan expertly switched damning evidence so the Van der Woodsen-Bass-Humphreys
wouldn’t be destroyed by Serena’s Quixotic kamikaze dive. “Quixotic kamikaze dive” would be a great band name.

And all this leads up to the not-so-subtle indication that Dan and Blair will be starting a relationship soon.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Joey/Pacey of the 21st century.

Wait...WHAT? No, seriously, WHAT?!?

We have no idea how to deal with this. To wit, this didn’t even cross our minds, even in, “Seven things Gossip Girl would never do,” though maybe there was an allusion to it in the Jump the Campus column…who are we kidding? This is next level.

There’s no way a relationship like that lasts more than four episodes, unless you’ve already killed off the Marissa Cooper and you’ve got a Taylor Townsend to single-handedly save your season so you have no choice but to pair her with your Ryan Atwood (I’m an unabashed Autumn Reeser fan.)

For discussion later: Gossip Girl desperately needs a Taylor Townsend. For a hot minute Hillary Duff was that character (sweet, well-meaning, kind of awkward, not Vanessa) and Nate could be that character except Nate sucks. Notice we haven’t talked about Nate yet. Still won’t.

A Dan-Blair relationship goes one of two ways: either it’s a triumph that shakes the UES to its very core (Let’s not forget Chuck hates Dan and Serena would never be able to understand this relationship.) OR it’s an indication that Gossip Girl has finally pulled the pin of its last grenade and they’re lobbing it to see if they can salvage anything after that. I would not be shocked if next season was Gossip Girl’s last, considering the language of Dan and Serena’s 17th (only half kidding) talk about why they don’t work and the next time they try something like this it will be the last time…for real, you guys. We mean it.

That said, how long has “One Tree Hill” been on? Seven seasons? Seventeen? Does anyone actually know? Molly knows: Season 8. You cannot stop OTH.

Either way, it looks like we might actually see Dan-Blair in our lifetime. We’re not ready for it. You’re not, either. But don’t worry, if Gossip Girl has taught us anything, there’s no reason to think they won’t simply slam the reset button again and put us back to the status quo.

This was way too long.

But we’re so back.
You know you skim us,

@mememolly and @woodytondorf


2 Responses

  1. Great to have you back.

    Do they sell “well-breasted plums” on Peapod? They would go at the top of my list…

  2. I LOVE YOU AND I WOULD LOVE LOve love to write this with you.that shit about gossip girl fucking funny and so on lol
    email me byeee

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