‘Gossip Girl’ Takes Us Back to the Future

Ew! Dude, that's the school pool. Serena is totally getting foot fungus on her butt right now. Photo: Courtesy of the CW
Episode Title
School Lies
Season
1
Episode
12

We're still kind of reeling from the fact that the Gossip Girl writers, who up until now have acknowledged the holidays as they occurred, missed the opportunity to pen a New Year's Eve episode. Where was the Champagne, the formalwear, the gilded halls? The frenzied expectation for midnight, when all plotlines would come to a thrilling or romantic conclusion? But then again: Gossip Girl has done that in pretty much every episode. So it was kind of a refreshing change to get vodka in plastic cups and an impromptu party at the school pool, at least until that flabby kid with the decidedly un-patrician name of Andrew Collins knocked himself out and nearly got himself killed and, more importantly, inspired a blue-tinted slow-motion-handheld camera sequence that lasted so long we went into a trance, whereupon we saw future Gossip Girl plotlines— serious, issue-driven plotlines — unfurl. In our mind's eye, we saw Jenny getting caught shoplifting, Chuck having an AIDS scare, Eric developing an Emily Valentine–like stalking problem, a school shooting at Constance Billard in which Nate is (finally) killed off the show, Serena getting amnesia and going to live in a swamp in New Orleans, and Blair's teen-pregnancy scare. Actually, that we really did see that last plotline — in the teaser for the next (and final) episode of the season. But wait! We're getting ahead of ourselves!

As young Andrew Collins made a full recovery from his brush with death, this week's Gossip Girl bounced back from its brush against afternoon-TV territory. Soon enough, the one-liners were flying, and color returned to our TV sets, and to our cheeks, and we were able to again concentrate on our weekly duty. As you probably know, we here at Intel have taken it upon ourselves to award points weekly to those aspects of the show that seem true to the lives of a prep-school teenagers living in New York and call foul on those vexing details clearly made up by West Coast buffoons. It's a task that we — a graduate of a posh private school and a high-school slut, respectively — feel we are uniquely qualified to judge. And so, without further preamble, your annotated guide to Gossip Girl No. 12: School Lies.

Faker Than a Scholarship for Teenagers With Genital Herpes
• This has been bugging us for a while. Why would the Gossip Girl know anything about any of their parents? Minus only 2, because we don't really care, and the Lily-Rufus plotline is the only one that interests us at this point.
• A gold skeleton key is all it takes to get into the school pool. What, are they insured by the Bank of Brunei? Minus 2.
• The bottles of vodka at the pool party are turned so that their labels are away from the camera. They couldn't get a sponsor to product-place for the underage drinking? Minus 1, because come on, they'd be drinking Ciroc. It may taste terrible, but Diddy drinks it!
• Did anybody notice that those "cell-phone pictures" of the pool party were HD quality? Minus 1.
• If Blair really wants to keep her affair with Chuck a secret, is storming up to him while he's talking to someone else and shouting, "Enough with the blackmail! I can't avoid Nate forever!" in the thundering echo chamber that is an indoor pool really the best way to do it? Minus 1.
• Chuck has waaaaay too much chest hair for a 16-year-old boy. Minus 1.
• Also, if Blair and Serena were the ones holding the party, why did they even invite Chuck and Nate, people that they supposedly hate/are trying to avoid? Minus 1.
• The kids were drinking out of plastic martini and lowball glasses. This is accurate for a pool party. But who has that shit hanging around in Manhattan? Minus 1.
• 719 East 82nd Street, the oft-repeated address of Constance Billard, doesn't exist. If it did, it would be at the bottom of the East River. Minus 3.
• Also: Lily tells Rufus to pick her up for their trip at 90th and Fifth Avenue. But they live at the Palace Hotel, which is at 50th and Madison, so this doesn't make any sense, unless Lily was planning on praying for her incestuous soul at the Church of Heavenly rest prior to their dirty weekend. Minus 1.
• A word on the way St. Jude's and Constance Billard handle the party: The weird, Aldon James professor character would never say, "We need to hold someone responsible." That and the whole School Ties "we'll-kick-you-all-out-if-one-of-you-doesn't-narc" honor code wouldn't fly in 2007; rich parents would never stand for it, nor the Breakfast Club–style writing of penitent essays. Minus 5.
• So, how about how the headmistress lady tells Serena her record "reads more like a rap sheet"? What teacher would ever say that? Minus 1. And what's on it? "You cut sophomore classes. Cheated on tests. Talked back to teachers." Yeaaaah. We're sure Beanie Sigel is impressed. Minus 2.
• Everyone is always hanging up on one another mid-conversation. "Bring your bathing suit!" Click. "You need to make sure you don't get suspended from school, son!" Click. Minus 1, for denying us further realistic dialogue in the form of awkward good-byes.
• In the voice-over at the end of the episode, Gossip Girl explains wistfully: "Sometimes … you need to step outside, clear your head, and remind yourself of who you are. And where you want to be." Hm. Sometimes … Gossip Girl herself doesn't sound so gossipy, she sounds like Brenda Strong on Desperate Housewives. Minus 2.
• Ten thousand dollars in cash is a thicker wad than that. Minus 2. Oh, and also: Why does Vanessa live alone without her parents? Minus 1. Why does she have infinite time to hang out at Constance Billard, where she is not enrolled? Minus 1. And why wouldn't Chuck tie her up in a basement and rape the shit out of her for ripping him off for the $10,000? From what we've seen, that's the least he would do. Minus 1.
• Was that a vintage Volvo convertible that Rufus is driving?? Or a Karmann Ghia? Minus 2, because it's time we started talking about Rufus's trust fund.
Total: 32

Realer Than a Head Injury From Running on the Pool Deck.
• "What are you up to besides missing me?" Serena asks when she calls Dan from the party. "Just wondering whether you were missing me," he replies. Terrible dialogue, but too, too real. Plus 4.
• Of course Chuck is wearing a shirt at the pool party, and sunglasses (Wayfarers, natch) at night. Plus 5.
• Blair says to Nate, after he takes responsibility for the pool party and gets suspended in an effort to cover for her, that it was "the most romantic thing anyone has ever done" for her Aw, that's so sweet! Except, wait, isn't Nate the only boy she's ever dated? Haven't we been making a big deal about how the two of them have dated for their whole lives? So, technically, it's the most romantic thing that Nate has ever done for her. Which is nice and all, but maybe more of an indictment for past lameness than anything else. Plus 2, because we're guessing the most romantic thing he'd ever done before this was to lend her his last spritzes of Aqua Net in a pinch.
• "What do the Humphreys have to offer?" Chuck asks Dan. "Your dad's cassingle?" Plus 2 for the use of "cassingle."
Total: 13. Not that it matters, because of next week's "unforgettable final episode." WE TOTALLY CALLED THIS. We already predict the show will get plus one billion points for that one!

Earlier: Intel's Uncomfortable-Making Gossip Girl Obsession, Archived