I really wanted to dislike Gossip Girl. I spend a lot of time watching Netflix at the moment, and, having watched most of the ‘recommended for you’ options, a friend suggested watching Gossip Girl. Based in New York’s Upper East Side, Gossip Girl narrates the lives of the wealthy and privileged students attending a private school, Constance, through her blog. No one knows who Gossip Girl is (until the last episode of season 6), but they all follow her reporting and send in tips and try to manipulate the content she posts to suit their own needs.
Everyone seems to hate the blogger, but it’s still important to be mentioned or ‘spotted’ on it, because it means that they’re relevant. It’s quite a cleverly written programme, in that you make assumptions early on as to your feelings towards a character e.g. Chuck as the ‘evil’ villain, but you have to change your perception as the story progresses. As the characters grow into adults, their personality changes and therefore so do your perceptions. Characters I was determined to hate I actually quite liked by the end and vice versa. In the later seasons, Gossip Girl takes a break and one of the main characters takes over her blog determined to not be as spiteful as the original Gossip Girl and to use it to make things better. But she actually becomes just as manipulative and ends up showing that her wealth might not be everything but her knowledge of others and the way she uses it is really is.
The Gossip Girl blog tends to focus on the ‘It’ girls/boys of Manhattan, but other characters e.g. the Humphreys from Brooklyn and the hired help to Blair, Dorota, feature regularly and help enhance the cliche that money can buy you lots of things, but it can’t buy loyalty, happiness and friendship. There are some touching moments where the upper and working class boundaries don’t exist e.g. the Waldorfs paying for Dorota’s wedding because they consider her to be family. At several points, fortunes are lost and social status drops but the revenge plots keep coming until the balance is restored.
It would have been very easy to focus on the ‘who is Gossip Girl?’ storyline and drag that out for 6 seasons. The question is always there, the blogger is always a constant, but the focus shifts between different characters’ storylines as well and she becomes more of a narrator and voiceover in some episodes. There were a few blink and you miss it moments where either I wasn’t paying attention properly (entirely possible!) and missed the introduction of a character or a key plot line development, but it’s still reasonably easy to follow, and, helpfully, everything is recapped regularly by Gossip Girl’s blog voiceover.
I loved the wit of some characters e.g. Blair, and I would not have thought it possible to make as many puns based on Chuck’s surname, Bass, as she managed to throughout the show. I particularly liked the symmetry in the way Gossip Girl’s identity was revealed, where the main characters speculated as to who they thought Gossip Girl was, following a similar thought process to what the viewer had experienced throughout.Having visited New York, I loved the New York panoramic long shots during transitions and the characters visited attractions like Central Park and The Empire State Building, making the storyline seem more plausible and real. The soundtrack was a good mix of current, ‘popular’ hits, again referring to the socialite scene and their ‘popularity’ in society versus 1920s music which featured in Blair’s Damsel in Distress dreams/nightmares. Blair’s minions and Dan Humphrey’s written musings provided humour poking fun at some of the traditions and etiquette of the Upper Class.
I put it on as something to watch in the background, but found myself wondering what would happen to the different characters when I was doing things like making dinner- it sucked me in but not with massive cliff hanger moments (although those did exist). It was also really interesting seeing how ‘the other half’ live.