How Gossip Girl Lost Her Edge

By Carolyn Dineen

There was a time when I actively looked forward to the latest episode of Gossip Girl – the scandal, the backstabbing, Blair’s coordinated headbands and Serena’s utterly inappropriate bastardization of the Constance school uniform. Most of all, I looked forward to Gossip Girl herself, with her sly observations and that deliciously ominous catchphrase – “xoxo, Gossip Girl” – full of promises and threats of social humiliation and ruin.

For the Facebook generation, Gossip Girl represents both our greatest fears and greatest pleasures: hysteria over privacy and the uneasiness of maintaining it in a digital age, combined with a thirst for gossip and the urge to “creep” our friends, acquaintances, and our grandmother’s third-cousin-twice-removed’s ex-husband’s goddaughter online.

Gossip Girl struck fear into the hearts of Manhattan’s elite in her uncanny ability to keep her finger on the pulse and spread rumours like wildfire, while also satisfying their (and our) need for digging up the dirt on everyone to the point that they’d risk their own reputations for the chance to destroy someone else’s. Kind of like the way you added your partner’s ex to Facebook, giving them full access to all your humiliating photos, just so you could make sure you see every one of their humiliating photos.

But when I heard the sixth season of Gossip Girl would be its last, I was relieved. It’s definitely more than time to say goodbye because, let’s face it – Gossip Girl has lost her edge.

To those in the UK, who are not as far through season six, here’s a spoiler alert: it is grim. Gossip Girl – both the show and the mysterious character it’s named after – is just regurgitating material, and it does not taste good the second (or third, or fourth…) time around. Neither Gossip Girl nor the characters she follows have outgrown high school. Serena is still trying to redeem her bad girl image but constantly fails. Blair is still trying to be the controlling force over everyone’s fate. Chuck is still trying to resolve his Daddy issues, and Dan is still trying to infiltrate the “upper crust” while remaining a self-righteous, hipster outcast.

Gossip Girl was about high school, hyperbolized. It took the dramas of adolescence, threw money, overblown egos, and Henri Bendel into the mix, and created something that at once made you admire and revile the characters and their power, self-absorption, clout, shallowness, and ambition.

And now? Nate is running a failed newspaper. Blair is drowning her mother’s company. Chuck is taking over Bass Industries with mild success. Dan published a book and is now using his way with words to stab everyone in the back for no discernable reason. And Serena – well, Serena’s doing nothing but being smug.

And Gossip Girl is “reporting” all the nothing that is happening, constantly promising surprises and juicy morsels of rumour with absolutely zero follow-through. So instead of leaving me anxiously awaiting the next episode after blowing my mind with twists and turns even Blair and Serena and Georgina Sparks didn’t see coming, I’m bored. And instead of wondering who this mysterious, omnipotent entity of gossip really is, I’m wondering if she’s just some washed-up ex-Constance cast-out eating chocolates in her pyjamas in her parents’ basement and desperately trying to cling onto the ounce of power she once had over the popular girls in high school.

Meanwhile, I’m watching Gossip Girl while eating chocolates in my pyjamas. Certainly a more pathetic kinship than the one Gossip Girl and I used to share – the guilty pleasure of being a simultaneous voyeur and participant in “the scandalous lives of Manhattan’s elite.”

Now I’m just a bored drone, continuing my Gossip Girl viewership to the gritty end because, much like Blair and Chuck and Serena who continue to scheme and plot, and like Gossip Girl who continues to dutifully blog about it, I just have nothing better to do.

Wed, 05 Dec 2012 17:00 (GMT+00)
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