‘Gossip Girl’ Gets Lost in New York

"Dan, it's not you. It's your sideburns!" Photo: Courtesy of the CW

In this week's episode of Gossip Girl, aging-hipster spawn Dan is pumped for his date with Waspy blonde Serena van der Woodsen. He's so excited, in fact, that in the beginning of the episode he forgets he's supposed to be cool and modern and morphs into the Eric Stoltz character from Some Kind of Wonderful. "It has to be perfect," Dan tells his dad as he empties his piggybank. "I can't just take her to a movie." Wait a second. He was okay with taking her to a movie just last week! Twice! Are we the only ones who remember that she stood him up at the theater? Isn't it weird when a show's writers forget their own plotlines? Isn't it weird we're paying such close attention? That's because it's our job — no! — our duty to make sure that this show does not pass unnoticed into the dustbin of history, to ensure that future generations will look upon Gossip Girl not just as a television program but as a meaningful artifact from The Year 2007–2008, a record of a wealthy, decadent, morally barren society with a penchant for teenagers dressed like painted whores and convenient socioeconomic and racial stereotypes.

Plus! Last week in the New York Times, Josh Schwartz said New York City was a character in Gossip Girl, and if this is true, we're here to make sure she's not just one of those fake-looking bitches whispering in background. Below, our completely subjective guide to what in this week's episode looked true enough to life and what was as fake as the smile Kim Cattrall wears whenever she's photographed next to Sarah Jessica Parker.

Worth Every Penny:
• In the establishing shot of Blair's sleepover, the camera passes over towering stands of pastel-frosted cupcakes and jars full of cookies. But what are the girls clustered in the Waldorf's living room eating? Grapes. Plus 2 for a subtle reference to teenarexia.
• Actually, now that we think about it, we've only ever seen Blair eat grapes, which makes her one of those rexies who only ever eats one thing, like this girl Sophie we went to school with who every day made three meals out of one bagel. Plus 4, for nodding to a specific yet common form of dysfunction!
• The big fancy date Dan planned for Serena is not panning out. He's taken her to a place with damask-covered walls and lobster bisque on the menu (which Serena, in all her Upper East Side glory, actually knows how to pronounce. Bisque! It's practically Shakespeare). But she doesn't like it and ends up paying. Plus 2, for finally making everybody recognize that Serena's crush on Dan is little more than a twisted Lady and the Tramp fantasy.
• Jenny tells Blair she just loves Truth or Dare. "This one time, I had to eat a full bag of marshmallows!" she says. "That's nice, little Humphrey, but that's not how we play." True that. We hear Truth or Dare is the new-old rainbow parties these days. Plus 5.
• After kidnapping Eric from the hospital, Blair and Jenny take him to Marquee, where they hook up with their usual Greek chorus of bimbos. A "hedge fund" guy hits on Blair. "Hey baby, you want to show me the way to the bathroom, get lost somewhere around coat check?" Plus 8, for capturing the horde of human nightmares that populates that club.
• Did anyone notice that during truth or dare, the unnamed Asian and black sidekicks made out? That was as inevitable as Blair's eventual dramatic second-season "hair change" will be — it just felt right. Plus 3.
• Mrs. van der Woodsen carries an Hermès Birkin bag to Brooklyn with her. Quite frankly, it would be embarrassingly fake if she didn't. Plus 2.

Total: Plus 26

Logically Bankrupt:
• More on Marquee: As abhorrently anti-reality as the club's door policy may be, even Lindsay Lohan wasn't allowed in when she was 14, like Jenny. Also, the club has never once in its history been quiet enough to have a cell-phone call (much less one with the subtlety of a relationship-ending prank). And in the real club, it would be so crowded that there wouldn't just be one asshole hedge-funder, there would be dozens. Don't even make us get into how many dance-floor erections that means. Minus 10 (And we won't deduct more points, but how is it that they emerge from Marquee and find themselves in the meatpacking district?)
• Now that we've gotten a good look at Erik's room at the mental institution, we get why he hates it so much. The place is a Pottery Barn nightmare — all lavender walls and chocolate-brown accents and a woody sleigh bed. If this room — in the fake, "Ostroff Center" named for the CW's president, noted party animal Dawn Ostroff — were actually a real room a plush recovery center, wouldn't it be covered in teenage-boy stuff like video-game cords and skateboarding magazines? Minus only 2, because what do we know about rehab centers? No really, what are you implying?
• After his planned date bombs, Dan and Serena go to play pool at a dive bar. Dan, of course, is naturally really good at pool, because that is just something that's in your genes when you're rough trade. See also Mystic Pizza. Minus 1, because come on, high-school dudes are never good at pool — that's what your first terrible year out of college when all your guy friends want to do is hang out at sports bars is for.
• Blair's sleepover is "the most important event of the season." Wait, wasn't the big brunch the most important event of the season? Also, the Ivy mixer? And, we're just hazarding a guess, but isn't the masquerade ball we saw in the ads for the next episode also going to be the most important event of the season? Minus 3, because even Upper East Siders can count higher than one.
• When Mr. Humphrey and Mrs. van der Woodsen hang out, they do some cooking because Mr. Humphrey is apparently something of an amateur chef. Except all he seems to be cooking is marinara sauce. Why is that the go-to for people making food on television? Does that even count as cooking? Mr. Big was always making pasta sauce on Sex and the City. Doesn't anybody know how to make microwave popcorn anymore? Minus 2.

Total: Minus 18

So that puts us a full eight points on the side of reality. Which really should be more, considering the fact that the show is beginning to go in the direction of The O.C., where there was a lot of drama but everyone was essentially friends. Oh, and also, they should probably get a bonus ten points just for keeping Chuck offscreen for an entire episode.

Read all our previous Gossip Girl recaps as well as gossip and photos from the show!