First of all, we never do this, but if you have not watched last night's Gossip Girl, DO NOT READ THIS EPISODE RECAP, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS STOLI. The writers really stepped it up on this one, with more action, one-liners, and real-world references than ever before. And for the first time ever during this show, we were actually surprised. Not even in the Forgetting Sarah Marshall "I can't believe they actually showed that even though I was totally anticipating it" kind of surprise. We mean genuine astonishment. Like, we shrieked "WHAT" so loud and high-pitched that for the first time, the 8-year-olds with the iron shoes who live a floor above us shook their fists in our direction and screamed "fucking kids!" Even to evaluate the minor details of the show seems superfluous. But we will not let you down. No, no, we won't! Onward into the breach, friends. We will attempt to grapple the most bonkers episode of the Greatest Show of Our Time — and if we don't survive, well, now you all know whom to blame.
Faker Than a Pocket Tee With a Stella McCartney Label Stitched Into It
• Finally, Gossip Girl is duped by fake dish. She's flooded by false sightings and tidbits, like even the best gossip column. However, it would be more realistic if she continued blissfully nonetheless, so we'll give a Minus 2.
• Jenny uses Evite to invite people to a party instead of Facebook. What, is her Internet poor, too? Minus 3.
• Nelly Yuki joined the cool posse, and even ditched her nerdy glasses and frumpy frocks. Now, obviously this was going to happen, but it's completely unrealistic (weren't they only hanging out with her to sabotage her SAT chances?). Minus 2, with an additional Minus 5 for denying us viewers the magical makeover montage with everybody knows is a staple of the teen dramedy. It's a bigger waste than when Music and Lyrics only included one retro music video.
• Where is Nate in this episode? What happened to his dating Vanessa? Wouldn't he know Georgina — and thus unravel it all? Minus 1, especially since Chuck is also completely absent.
• Isn't Vanessa supposed to be the skeptical outsider? Wouldn't she see through Georgina immediately? If not because she was too blow-dried to live in Brooklyn, at least because she was obviously batshit insane? Minus 2.
• When Dan first accuses Asher of making out with a boy, Asher snaps back: "Are you calling me queer? I'm so queer I'm going to pop your sister's cherry tonight!" Gay teens shy away from words like "queer," even if they are closeted. As do most normal people. It wouldn't just leap to his lips like that. Minus 2.
• Later Dan goes on to do that endlessly annoying TV thing where he doesn't tell anybody what the problem about Asher is. Minus 2, because he's a teenager and he would have told everybody that could listen. Also, Minus 2 for having Blair and Gossip Girl be the two first people he does tell.
• Rufus reads Jenny's e-mail, and Lily is unsurprised when he tells her about it. We've said this before, but if parents at Constance Billard and St. Jude's were that Internet savvy, GossipGirl.com would have been shut down months ago. Minus 1.
• When Asher is confronted by Jenny, he treats her like crap. "Do you really think someone like me would date someone like you?" he asks. No way, flambé. Gay people are nice to girls, especially the ones that they date. They are their only allies, and they relate to them too closely to spurn them. Minus 4. Next up is borrowing their Indigo Girls CDs and fighting over who gets to sing the Angel part in RENT.
• Since one of us was gay in prep school (well, since Pressler's on vacation and it's just Chris writing this, ALL of us were gay in prep school), we can tell you with absolute certainty that no high-school homo makes out in front of the school. Not near the school, not near any humans … not anywhere that isn't pitch black and smothered in alcohol and shame. There's no way that Dan would just happen upon Asher and Eric kissing. Minus 4.
• After it all, Blair gathers the girls for a dinner later in the week at the Waverly and drinks at 151. Sorry, even Blair doesn't know Graydon Carter's assistant. And 151? Like the bar on the Lower East Side? No way, there's puke on the sidewalks there! Minus 2
• So, we're going to work our way up to this: The Georgina-pretending-to-be-Sarah-the-Canadian situation is just too much. Even she is too smart to think that this maniacal approach would somehow win Serena back (though, judging by the trailer for next week's episode, it's totally going to work). Minus 3. When Serena sees her in the Brooklyn coffee shop, there's no way she would keep her cool. It's simply too outrageous for real life, even for teenagers. Minus 3.
• Okay, okay: deep breath. Let's discuss the episode's final moments. You'll note that we have saved most of the gay elements for the "realistic" section below (and never fear, we have a lot to say about that). But Serena's revelation. It. Was. Spectacular. As we said before, we totally did not see it coming. We thought an orgy maybe, or lesbianism, or perhaps a really bad elephant party that started with an innocent little button of mescaline. But it was perhaps the first time on prime-time television that the cheesy overblown buildup actually delivered a good wallop. We shrieked. We clapped our hands over our mouths. Later, we laughed, and laughed and laughed. And then we subtracted 20 points from our reality index. Clearly Serena didn't actually murder someone on purpose, as they want you to believe. It was Georgina's fault, or an accident, or whatever. And if it happened when she was 16, or earlier, there's just no way in hell that a pampered teen who we know can't do anything on her own would have kept that a secret from her mother. So we call bullshit way in advance. [Still, between us, Gossip Girl writers, YOU ARE THE BEST AND WE LOVE YOU MORE THAN EVER!]
Total: Minus 58
Realer Than Dan and Vanessa Giving "Sarah" a Not for Tourists Guidebook
• Jenny, who has really become loathsome, says to Eric: "Oh my God, wait, do you have a crush on me or something? Don't be embarrassed, it's totally understandable, and not that unexpected actually. I'm flattered, it's just, my heart belongs to Asher. I've gotta go, but text me, okay?" Well done. Plus 3. In fact, all of Jenny's snotty conversations and arguments, either with her dad or with Dan, are really accurate (if a little too well composed and lacking in wobbly lower lips). Plus 3. An additional Plus 1 for addressing something we've always wondered about (but clearly never tested as teens because we were losers), which is this: What do parents do when children challenge them to physically stop them from doing something? We enjoy the fact that the Gossip Girl writers clearly don't know, either.
• Which leads us to the dialogue and one-liners in the episode altogether. Really well done. They were funny, biting, and surprisingly filled with contemporary references. Highlights include:
• Lily van der Woodsen: "When you revise the seating chart, don't forget to place Mr. Spitzer as far away from Serena's table as possible." Plus 2.
• Blair: "All that matters to someone like Jenny right now are the 4 Gs, Guys, Girlfriends and Gossip Girl" HA-HA-HA, fourgies! Don't think we missed that one, writers. Plus 2.
• Isabel: "I am so glad that Gossip Girl finally got her balls back — she was so turning into the new 'Page Six.'" Plus 2.
• Hazel, to Jenny after Asher was quasi-outed: "Now you know how Vanessa Hudgens feels." Plus 2.
• Blair: "Right know Gossip Girl's credibility is like Tinsley Mortimer's after a few martinis." Plus 2.
• Isabel: "Asher takes an unusually long time in the shower after lacrosse practice." Plus 2.
• Jenny to Dan: "Even you should know that jealousy clashes with L.L. Bean pants!" Plus 2.
• Blair to Dan, regarding Jenny: "It's your brotherly duty to keep her from becoming the next Katie Holmes." Plus 2.
• Dialogue between unseen man and Georgina, on the mysterious tape: "You sure she's going to be down for this?" "It's Serena, she'll go down for anything." Plus 2.
• Gossip Girl herself: "Don't worry, little J, the sun will come out tomorrow, even though your boyfriend did today." Plus 2.
• And the best line, of course, from Isabel to Jenny: "To think, I almost asked you to wear a matching dress tonight." Plus 3.
• Dan and Serena make out in the hallways as though it is not completely revolting and rude. Plus 2.
• Lily van der Woodsen, in her day's schedule, name-drops Preston Bailey (an ace New York wedding planner), and Sylvia Weinstock (an ace of cakes). Plus 2.
• Georgina sends Serena a copy of the mysterious video on a memory stick. Plus 1, because sometimes it's the little things.
• Anybody else notice that as the episode wore on, Serena was wearing more and more makeup? In the scene where she "comforted" Eric after he got outed, she looked like she was wearing a Burger King king mask. Plus 1, because when you're cracking, you can at least rely on your liquid foundation not to.
• There is an offensive amount of madras at Asher's party. Like, really offensive. This is why J.Crew is misguiding a nation, people. Plus 2, because that's exactly how it would be.
• Now onto the gay stuff: we'd like to take a moment to thank the writers of Gossip Girl for this nod to all of their gay viewers. They clearly know that it's us, the Go 'Mos, that are the really die-hard fans. Whether you are an adult gay, who went through the unspeakably unattractive high-school coming-out process, or you are a teen pre-gay, who is snuggled up with your girlfriends watching the show and quietly lusting after Asher when you talk about how much you love Blair, it's the same: a plotline for you! Plus 2, because few romantically active gay boys ever come out to their moms in the way they want to. Mothers always find out, and they are never ready to deal with it. Plus 2 for Lily 's initial stumble ("It was not my finest maternal moment," she tells Rufus), and another Plus 2 for the older sister to be immediately supportive. Plus 5 for Lily telling Eric that she is scared for his health and for happiness. Plus 2 for Blair protecting Eric at the last minute and awkwardly revealing that she has a heart. Plus 2 for Eric being brave and for older, hotter, more popular Asher wimping out. "Get that faggot out of here!" he screeches, and we are happy for Eric when he does walk out. And a final Plus 2 for having everyone at the party more interested in the scandal of Jenny's downfall and all the lying than in anybody being gay.
• Plus 2 for Jenny and Blair's conversation in the end, in which they both are honestly face to face. Jenny tries to make Blair a complete villain to make herself feel better, but we learned already this episode that Blair is kind of a good person underneath. Also, Plus 1 for again letting Blair have her hair down without a damn headband. She looks amazing!
• Oh, and Plus 3 for introducing the Lily and Rufus "trying to be friends" plotline. Everybody knows that inevitably leads to awkward restaurant sex! Hooraaaaaaay!
Total: Plus 59
We didn't even do this on purpose, but this episode (against all odds) ends up just in the black. It's not because it's realistic — not by any means. But because it dealt with a real issue kind of honestly, because it was written more snappily than any other episode, and because it kind of had a heart, well, for that reason we give it one thumb, slightly up. While we are giving it a giant hug, of course.