"To me, one of the biggest differences between the ['The O.C.' and 'Gossip Girl'] is that New York City is a character in 'Gossip Girl," according to both shows' wunderkind creator Josh Schwartz. And: sure! Especially if you mean "the only difference" and "Vancouver or Toronto or a soundstage is a character." Anyway: on last night's episode, Jennifer Aniston's little sister Serena Van der Woodsen has called her star-crossed Williamsburg love Dan. She is just about to ask him to her on-again friend Blair Waldorf's masquerade ball, but then she hears a girl's voice in the background and she's all "Who's that" and he says, "Um, my sister," even though it is actually his old best friend, the terribly-wardrobed Vanessa, whose tacky outfits pissed me off in every scene (she can't dress well because she is meant to portray a poor!).

Vanessa moved away a year ago and has now come back to claim Dan, which is obviously too complicated for him to explain to Serena during a Stilted Awkward Phone Call™, which is why Dan lies. But Serena knows it isn't Dan's sister Jenny because just at that moment Jenny comes in with a bunch of packages for Blair because Blair is hazing her, making her think if she works hard enough she is going to get invited to the ball, but of course she is not. Serena reacts to Dan's lying as if she has just found out about the nuclear devastation of a town full of babies and puppies.

Ultimately Dan ends up going to the ball anyway, which requires him to cancel a date at Angelica Kitchen with Vanessa, and Vanessa finds out and she and Jenny end up going to the ball together ("Every ball has a backdoor," says Jenny. Truer words!) Also there are subplots involving drama between Blair and Nate, Nate and Serena, Jenny and Chuck, and Nate and a bag of his Dad's coke. What a tangled web. This show is frustrating because if the people on it just told each other the truth every episode would be five minutes long, including commercial breaks.