New York magazine did a cover story/listicle on the importance of Gossip Girl, and this comment is fairly typical of the reader reaction: "I love this article so much. Im 15 and completely obsessed with this show. I have been counting the days till its return for so long." It is indeed a fun article! It's written by admitted fans who once "played hooky from work for an hour and skip-walked all the way from our offices in far west Soho to the East Village to catch a scene of the show being filmed." And it's designed to convert people like, uh, me, who maybe kind-of have never seen the show or whatever. ANYWAY, moving right along, here are some reasons to love Gossip Girl, from New York's love letter to the show:
- It's the rightful heir to the legacy of John Hughes movies like Sixteen Candles. Except better, because it moves faster and actions don't have consequences, or something. ("Remember when Donna almost didn't graduate because she got drunk at the prom? The Gossip Girl kids threw a wild bash at the school pool that caused a near-fatal accident, but got off scot-free when a rich parent paid off the headmistress.")
- Everyone from the show is friends in real life, so you get to read about them in the gossip columns. See: Crawford, Chace. (Penn Badgley: "I think the last time people treated anybody else like this was demigods like in the time of ancient Greece.")
- If you watch Gossip Girl, you are supporting TV via iTunes, and the internet, and The Future Of Television. But the CW network is sort of fighting this: "As the CW struggles to figure out how to make money off Gossip Girl, it's overlooking what an amazing thing it has on its hands, which is a show that may foretell a future of multiplatform entertainment whose success is determined not by traditional ratings but by what Schwartz and co–executive producer Stephanie Savage call "cultural permeation."
- There's a perpetual catfight between the "blonde bombshell" and "the sassy brunette." The brunette, Leighton Mester, is mean, even to New York: "The first time we met her, at a party at Barneys for Donatella Versace, we nervously approached her and introduced ourselves. At a loss for what to say in the presence of Her Leightness, we complimented her on her dress and asked her what it was. 'Versace,' she hissed. 'Duh.'"
- The show knows how to manipulate the media! Wait, this is a good thing? "It's this kind of gossip-so oddly on message! The Queen Bee dismisses another minion!-that makes some suspect that the Gossip Girl gossip-mongering is being driven by something more than favor-dropping publicists. That it might be part of a calculated effort by someone higher up, someone whose goal is cultural permeation." To quote Leighton or whoever: Duh!
- The show has something redeeming to say. "The characters may be caricatures, but they recall real types enough to make you cringe."
- Also, Gossip Girl put reality TV firmly in its place: underneath scripted TV, even in terms of social accuracy.
This non-fan's verdict: I can't help but be a little annoyed that the show is so obviously manipulating the press by pushing carefully calibrated "real life" gossip about the cast, and that the New York story doesn't dig into this more. At the same time I'm now intrigued and want to watch at least an episode, so I guess it worked.