Ah, the wicked grandmother. It's a time-honored archetype — think Flowers in the Attic I, Claudius, A Good Man Is Hard to Find. But none of those old broads were as nakedly manipulative, as fabulously coiffed, simply as stone-cold awesome as Celia "CeCe" Rhodes, Serena's Cotillion-crazed, possibly cancer-fakin' granny. Drunk with power (and Tanqueray), CeCe stole the shit out of episode eleven. It made us wish that someone would put her in an updated version of The Golden Girls so we could see her and Blanche face off over a man and a pair of shoulder pads. But we didn't love CeCe simply because she revived the class tension between Dan and Serena, reminded us that even old ladies can be catty bitches (it could happen to you, Jenny!), and wore eyeliner that reminded us of a demure Amy Winehouse. She also put to rest a question that we have been turning around in our tiny minds since the show began in September.
Previous episodes have led us to believe that when Serena left for boarding school after she slept with Nate, it was in the middle of last year's school year, at some point after Thanksgiving (since last week's Thanksgiving show included happy flashbacks of Serena, Nate, and Blair from the previous year). So, okay, we're to believe that Serena spent the spring semester at boarding school in Connecticut and then returned to Constance Billard and New York this September. Which makes sense, because the timeline of Gossip Girl has been generally parallel to our own lives (LIKE EVERYTHING ELSE ON THE SHOW). But hold on! Where the fuck was Serena all summer? What is up with this break in the space-time continuum? Thankfully, Nana needs to be filled in, too. "I still didn't show you pictures from my summer abroad!" Serena shrieks to her, running for a photo album. Yes, it's clumsy — because why would she have been arriving at Grand Central Station after a summer in Europe? In a winter coat and neckerchief? With no luggage? — but we appreciate the effort nonetheless.
Now! Onto our weekly, Mensa-certified tally of what else on this week's Gossip Girl struck us as dubious, and what was so true-to-life we had to guzzle Tanqueray to kill the pain.
Faker Than Nate's Highlights
• Here's something. How can these kids have a huge important dress-up party every weekend? There was the Masquerade Ball, the brunch, Blair's birthday, Kiss on the Lips it's like when we were 13 and there were bar mitzvahs every weekend. No humans could ever really keep that up without the aid of Shirley Temples, caricature artists, and Champagne Snowballs. Minus 2.
• As much as we loved her, CeCe is way too young to play Serena's grandmother, especially since Blake Lively herself is approximately 35. How did Gossip Girl's creators think they could get away with casting the same actress who played David Silver's mother? They should have just cast Bunny from Sex and the City. That fake dyed shock of gray hair was distracting for the whole episode. It was practically blue! And you know a bitch with the last name Rhodes doesn't get her coloring from a can. Minus 1.
• A word on Cotillions and debutante balls: All of the girls' dresses would have been white, and all of the boys would have been in white tie, not black tie, gray tie, or whatever the hell Dan was wearing. And the musical guests wouldn't have been the Pierces, it would be the Lester Lanin band. Ol' Lester may be dead, but if you don't end up the evening wearing a floppy colored cotton hat with his name on it, you didn't go to a deb ball. Minus 8.
• When Jenny and Lily go shopping at the Saks shoe floor (Zip Code 10022!), they run into Allison. Why on earth would Allison be there? Minus 2, mostly because they didn't dig enough into the whole Gift of the Magi "I bought you the same shoes!" plotline that was dying to be harvested here.
• At Blair's tea, what the fucking hell are the black and Asian sidekicks wearing? With those shoulder-padded blazers and bowler hats, they look like MTV V.J. Kennedy circa 1989. If she had a love child with Six from Blossom. Tea-party foul! Minus 1 .
• Speaking of which, Kati's last name is Farkas? Dude, the Farkas family is not Asian. Awkward. Minus 1.
• "Don't Eff with an Effer," Chuck says to Nate. Please. Minus 1.
• In his first scene, is Chuck wearing a coat made out of pajamas? Minus 1.
• "The New York Times – they've chosen me for a Night Out With," boasts Blair. This is laughably inaccurate. A moderately prominent Upper East Side teenager? She's way too famous for that column. Minus 3. An additional Minus 1 because we know show writer Josh Schwartz is just remembering the time Benjamin McKenzie did one during The O.C..
•"That feeling you have right now will never go away. It will only get worse. You'll always use your dessert fork for your entrée, you'll always feel underdressed, no matter what you wear and at dinner parties it will be as if there's a language that sounds like English and you think you speak it, but they don't hear you and you don't understand them. As time passes you'll feel that people never see you when they look at you but wonder whether your Serena's whim or her charity case until the day comes that you realize that girls like Serena don't end up with Dan Humphrey, they end up with the Carter Baizens of the world and people like you, they turn into cocktail-party anecdotes of their foolish youth. So! Why don't you give it up and spare yourself the pain, hmm?" Great speech. But lady? Dan is in high school. It's kind of weird of you to talk to a 17-year-old this way. Minus 1.
• When Nate points out the bauble attached to the inside of the sleeve of his favorite sweater, Blair explains: "It's my pin. I sewed it there so you'd always have my heart on your sleeve." Aw, that's so adorable. Except, LIKE HELL BLAIR KNOWS HOW TO SEW. Minus 4.
Total: Minus 26.
Truer Than the Love Rufus Has for Lily
• We need to award points for the whole summer-abroad explanation. We're wondering if this has to do with the mysterious "night in Santorini" that is referred to between Carter and Serena. Plus 5. But at boarding school, do they really give school credit for trips to Eurotrash Whoreville? Minus 2.
• Between Blair and Chuck, the making-out is so accurate. They care so much about the kissing part, including the random rubbing of the leg through her tights without any further goal. We remember this well — from both sides of the equation. Also, it is so high school that Blair went from a virgin to nympho in like a week. Plus 1.
• On a larger sex note from above, the theme of secret hooking up in high school is SO dead on. Who didn't have a secret make-out partner that you would never actually be seen in public with? Plus 2. We'd give more points for this, but we suspect that we only think this is real because one of us was a big fag in high school.
• Dan bought that striped cardigan at Zara, no question. Plus 4.
• They dressed up the black-girl sidekick as Arden Wohl in the dance rehearsals! Plus 4.
• Eleanor Waldorf's custom design for Blair is a total John Galliano for Dior ripoff. So real it hurts in our heart. Plus 3.
• "I don't like my ice to get lonely dear," says Serena's grandmother, asking for another gin. We have no idea whether this is accurate, but we are using this line for the rest of our lives. Plus 5.
• Did anyone else notice that the CW chyron said "Happy Chanukkah!" across the bottom of the screen at the Waspiest grandma moment ever? Plus 1, because, let's be honest.
• For those of you who are close, close watchers: Does Nate have oral herpes just above the left side of his upper lip? Plus 3.
Total: 26. It's a tie! Respectable, for an episode that included some of the weirdest speeches of the season, but the only time that any of the teenagers have ever been grounded. Once again, the story line had only a loose grip on us, until the end, when Rufus made his brazen and actually kind of unhinged-sounding cell-phone call to Lily. At that moment, across the city (depending on when you turned on your DVR), teenagers and drunk twentysomethings gasped and put their hands to their mouths (okay, let's be honest, the teenagers were drunk, too). Just then, the story line tightened its hold to a vicelike throttle, and we will slowly continue to die until we find out what happened next.