Monday, October 15, 2007

Gossiping about Gossip Girl

On Wednesday nights, the demoralization of America's Youth is taken on with great glee by the executives of the CW. There is the whole institution of America's Next Top Model, which is a complete farce of a program in my opinion. The show lost credibility when the houses became huge shrines to the washed-up model-cum-talk show host/investigative reporter that is Tyra Banks and a testament to her life instead of an actually legitimate search for a good model. If you don't understand what I mean, ask yourself this question: when was the last time you saw Naima? I apologize for the young heads, but she was the most recent one that I could think of because I haven't watched the show for years. But, I'm going to put my animosity towards Ty Ty on the shelf for a moment.

My ire needs to be focused on the show after it, Gossip Girl. Although I am only 23, I am surprisingly out of touch with the youth of America. Apparently, this show is based of a series of wildly successful young adult books that read like an unrestrained Bonfire of the Vanities. From what I've read about them, the content of these books would set Tom Wolfe's seersucker suits ablaze with hedonism. But, that does not concern me. I'm only concerned with the quality of the program because that's what I'm about as a viewer.

For those who are unaffiliated with either the Gossip Girl books or Bonfire of the Vanities, the show Gossip Girl revolves around an unknown blogger who writes about the goings-on of the elite prep schoolers of Manhattan's notoriously tony Upper East Side. Central to the story are Serena van der Woodsen and Blair Waldorf, BFF's who had a falling out because of Serena sleeping with Blair's man Nate, who secretly has a thing for Serena. I think the cliché of this show made me gag a little.

Anyway, this show is exactly what that little bit of talking suggests it is: a teen soap much in the vein of The O.C., which is fitting because the executor of this show is Josh Schwartz aka the guy who created The O.C. Now, this clearly means that stereotypical characters from that show must be fulfilled on this one. To do a comparison of sorts, let's take this line. Serena is Marissa. Blair is Summer only in hair color (both are brunettes). Dan is Ryan, but way more loaded; he's new money which is looked down upon in this clique. Dan's Pops is like Sandy Cohen. There's no Kirsten. Julie Cooper is Serena's mom: trashy background but being elitist now. But, notice who's left out: Seth Cohen. And, this is why Gossip Girl fails as a show. I'm not trying to suggest that all of these characters are picture-perfect recastings of their west coast brethren, but I am trying to suggest that they all play on pretty generic archetypes of the teen drama.

Additionally, the absence of Seth Cohen allows this show to run itself into overly serious self-commentary without any real sense of irony or humor. Sure, Gossip Girl is funny, but it's an unintentional humor, a humor brought on by overgrown sense of self-importance than a realization of its own innate absurdity. While lacking Seth Cohen's caustic humor is alright, that absence would be tempered by the realization that the show is patently ridiculous, much in a move similar to those of Melrose Place, Beverly Hills 90210, and Dynasty. But, Gossip Girl fails in this respect as well as it takes itself far too seriously. The characters deliver their lines with sincerity, and they actually seem to care about each other, which is just tragic.

So, if you are keeping track, I hate the show because it's a soap opera that takes itself seriously, but not seriously enough. You'd be half right. I'd throw in that it's cliché, wooden, overly sincere for a soap opera, and constantly laced with the jamz that the cool kids like. I've never watched a show with a constant soundtrack like Gossip Girl. Frankly, it's distracting. So, if you know what's good for you, stay away from this show. If you want to be dangerous, you will soon be wishing for the return of the Walshes and Dylan from that magical zip code in Beverly Hills.