‘Gossip Girl’: The Most Important Show of Our Time

Serena Van der Woodsen shoulders a great responsibility. Photo: Courtesy of the CW
Episode Title
Pilot
Season
1
Episode
1

Last night's giddily awaited premiere of Gossip Girl did not disappoint. This is partly because ever since the day Models Inc was cruelly pulled off the air, we have grown to not expect much from television. But it's also because in many ways, Gossip Girl was the show we've been waiting for our entire lives: Dynasty meets Harriet the Spy meets Beverly Hills 90210 meets Melrose Place. Of course the show it most resembles is Sex and the City (although, since this show is about teenagers, does that make it Statutory Rape in the City?). For all its flaws, Sex and the City was a New York show. Even though they wore unforgivable outfits, the SATC characters did things real women their age and socioeconomic class in New York did — they ate cupcakes at Magnolia, had brunch at Pastis, went to Bloomie Nails. As cringe-making as it is to admit, those four bitches represented a breed of New York woman. Can we expect Gossip Girl to do the same for Upper East Side teenagers? From the first episode, we're not entirely sure.

Below is our list of things we found gloriously implausible — and uncomfortably plausible — in last night's pilot episode, rated on our completely subjective point system:

That's a Bit Rich
• Blake Lively as a high-school senior. -5 accuracy points. Seriously, chick has got to be at least 30. What is this? A new season of Strangers With Candy?
• Formal invitations — on paper — are issued for the "Kissing on the Lips Party." -2. Real kids use Evite.
• Nate: "Do you ever feel like our lives are planned out for us?" -3. 17-year-olds are about as self-reflective as Saran Wrap.
• Blair" "Waldorf" and "Serena Van der Woodsen"? Who has names like that? Oh, yeah. Lead actress Blake Lively and Gossip Girl creator–apocalyptical horsewoman Cecily von Ziegesar. -1 anyway for absurdity.
• Scene: Blair and Serena meet at the Palace Hotel, drink martinis up with olives. -2. ("Nooo, we don't have a lot of private-school kids at our bar," says Melissa Blair, the hostess at Gilt, the Palace's bar. [Gilt! Which is a false cognate of the emotion Serena feels about sleeping with Nate! Symbolism!] They have been filming at the Palace though, Blair told New York. In fact, she saw them filming a scene yesterday. End of parenthetical.)
• Blair, wearing a corset and waiting in a candlelit room for a rendezvous with Nate. -2. Teenage sex is awkward, no matter how much money you wrap it in.
• The kids take over a huge club (that at times looks like the meatpacking district's Level V and at other times like the sound studio that it is) for a party where prodigious amounts of alcohol is served. Club owners and parents are in the know. -1. There are still LAWS in this city, people.
• Serena and Nate have sex on the bar of the empty Campbell Apartment. -2. Dude, that place is always filled with bankers.

Total: -18 points

Okay, We'll Buy It
• Nate and Valmont smoking a joint in Central Park. +1. Who hasn't?
• Chuck joking semi-seriously about borrowing his dad's Viagra. Do real teenagers do that? Probably. +1, but ew.
• Attempted date rape. See above re: teenage sex. +8.
• "Dancing on tables at Bungalow." After its steady decline in recent years, the high-school crowd is right about where that place is at these days. +8.

Total: +18 points. It's all even!

We consulted some recent graduates of the New York private-school world to arrive at these tallies, and unless the current crop of teenagers in the city were born in hell, with fake I.D.'s, they agreed on the scores. Stay tuned, for next week's episode, which we are really hoping is a little more outrageous. We almost bought some of this one!

Related: Gossip Girl creator Josh Schwartz explains what went wrong with his previous show, The O.C.
Update: A very alert (and very correct) young reader emailed us to point out: "evite? please. real kids use facebook." So true! We have never felt more old or irrelevant. Also, to all of those of you who complained that actress Blake Lively is not actually 30, we're sorry our sarcasm was not clear: she just looks that old. And when she gets around to dating Cisco Adler, we'll tack on a few years to that. But thank you for your feedback – email us at intel@nymag.com any time!