Gossip Girl Allows Its Light to Shine

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Photo: Courtesy of the CW

It is a measure of both the quality energy of the writing on Gossip Girl and the acting of Leighton Meester that the character of Blair Waldorf is able to try to humiliate her best friend, crush an innocent underclassman, thwart her mother’s crucial fashion show not once, not twice, but three times, and you still end up feeling like she’s the victim at the end up the episode. It’s like reading American Psycho and finding yourself hoping that Patrick Bateman gets away in the end (and still gets that reservation!). Are we demented? Or have we just been expertly manipulated by Queen B?

Let us look onward, to this week's reality index, for the answer!

Realer Than a Socialite With a Hebetudinous Nickname Like “Poppy”

• “I told Laurel my daughter could make a better seating chart than that drug-addled publicist,” Eleanor Waldorf says. “It’s a blessing she was hauled off to rehab for stealing her son’s Ritalin.” Plus 3, because we know exactly which reality-television guest star in an MTV original series they’re talking about!

• Okay, let’s evaluate the taste of Lily’s art consultant. Kiki Smith, check. Elmgreen & Dragset, check. A Ryan McGinley nude, mmm, that’s pushing it for a conservative billionaire. And yet … Lily would like a Richard Phillips, but would Bart Bass? He’s so garish. Plus 2 still, because clearly Lily would overestimate Bart’s interest in contemporary art, and also because Phillips is from the same Podunk town as Intel editor Jessica.

• They included a shot of Michael Kors backstage at the tents, which is obvious enough of a choice. But they also included a shot of cutie Brian Reyes! That’s, like, Junior Varsity Fashionism. Plus 1, because the rest of the episode’s Fashionism is strictly Freshman Team.

• Speaking of Fashionism, do prep-school girls in New York really read Women’s Wear? Yes, yes they do. Plus 2.

Plus 2 for the Paris Review editor, Noah Shapiro, telling a story about a time when Charles Bukowski was drunk. Those guys all have those damn stories. If they don’t, they make them up. Plus 1.

• “You sent me five stories all about a sheltered young man with girl problems who lives with his dad in Brooklyn,” Shapiro says mockingly to Dan. “You think that’s going to knock the Yale admissions committee off their tenured asses?” Ha. Right-o, you grizzled, drunken rascal. Plus 2. Can we call you Poppy?

• “Kirsten Dunst?” asks Laurel. “So 2007. Her rehab barely made the radar.” Plus 2, because that is kind of totally true and plus 5 for awesome Hollywood bridge-burning.

• “Are you gay?” Chuck asks Dan after he asks to get close to him. Plus 2, because finally. Plus an extra 3 for Chuck's totally absurd neck scarf.

• “Don’t ever go to high school, Dorota! The girls are spoiled stupid and ungrateful,” wails Blair. Plus 5 for the decibel at which this rant is performed. It actually seems like Blair is going to hyperventilate, just like a real adolescent would. And plus 20 for Blair's assumption that Dorota hasn’t already gone to high school.

Plus 5 for how easily Dan caves in to doing drugs. Dorks only don’t do hard stuff because nobody ever offers. And an additional plus 1 for when Dan takes his shoes off and says “that feels amazing.”

Plus 1 for Dan’s question, “Who knew there was a sex club behind the White Castle?” and another plus 1 for: “How do you know so many twins?”

Plus 2 for Dan, after all his nervous chatter about getting out of his "comfort zone" and the bravado act of punching the guy in the club, melting into a puddle of middle-class teen angst about how his dad will react the second he and Chuck ended up in jail. We would have given extra points if he'd cried.

• A girl pulled a Vitamin Water out of her bag at Eleanor’s fashion show. A begrudging plus 2 because as annoying as that incessant product placement is, at least it makes sense at Fashion Week. And at least the girl looked at it skeptically.

• Of course Bart hired a private investigator to follow Lily. Plus 2, and of course she didn’t actually end up caring, especially once he gives her jewelry. Plus 2.

• Wait. That thing Serena is doing with her lips when she poses for photographs. Where have we seen it before? Oh yes, on Devorah Rose! Plus 5.

• Ha, a socialite would totally tell someone not to "hide their light." Plus 2, because what is her light, exactly? She doesn't do anything.

• Blair takes out her rage at being usurped by Serena on Jenny, perpetuating a centuries-old cycle of girl-on-girl bullying. Plus 8.

Plus 2 for the person who selects Rufus's outfits. The black shirt with the little red roses embroidered on it couldn't say washed-up nineties rocker better if it had, well, "washed-up nineties rocker" embroidered on it. We can't wait for the episode where we find out he also has a Celtic armband tattoo, or a tiger on his pelvis.

• It's about time the Blair/Serena jealous-insecurity thing finally came to a head again, seeing as it's been floating in the ether since beginning of the show, when we first found out Serena slept with Nate. (Remember last season, when Eleanor asked Serena to be in her fashion show, and Blair had a fit? And that episode when they were walking down the street in Nolita and dudes were checking out Serena and Blair said, all uncomfortably, "I forgot what it was like to walk down the street with you"? Okay, well we do.) This is such a classic friendship dynamic, the friend who gets all the attention versus the friend who doesn't. We feel for Blair. But truth be told, we also feel for Serena. Because it's a little-known fact that being the Better Friend can be hard. Just ask Jessica, who constantly has to play down her awesomeness — like by always being late to work and making sure she has a coffee stain on her shirt — because she knows Chris has a hard time with the fact that she gets to float by on her brilliance and beauty when he has to work really hard at getting noticed. Even though he's really great too! Just in a more subtle, hard-earned, oh-wow-I-would-never-have-even-talked-to-someone-like-you-if-we-hand't-been-stuck-together-in-the-elevator type of way. Anyway so yeah that's really hard and Plus 10 to Gossip Girl writers for putting that out there.

More Transparent Than Dan’s Bravado

• Let's get into the friendship between socialite Poppy Lipton and Serena. It's not totally unrealistic that an adult would take around a high-schooler as arm candy — we read about that sort of thing in the Styles section! — but in the world of Gossip Girl, why would Poppy willingly build someone up who could later topple her from her own pedestal? Minus 1.

• Speaking of weird intergenerational friendships, Minus 3 for all of the energy this Shapiro character, for all his annoyingly well-conceivedness, puts into his relationship with Dan. ADULTS JUST DON’T CARE ABOUT HIGH-SCHOOLERS THAT MUCH. Minus 4.

• And furthermore: How come Eleanor Waldorf lets teenagers decide everything for her? Minus 6, because the woman has a successful business and somebody had to be around to run it before Blair was out of jumpers.

Minus 2 for the little blue pills Chuck offers Dan. At first we thought it was Viagra, since it didn't have an imprint of a smiley face or heart or anything that would suggest it was Ecstasy, and we had to wait around for the shoes comment to know. Then we were disappointed because (a) that was kind of subtle and (b) Chuck leaving Dan shoeless in Chinatown with a giant raging boner would have been so much better.

• Chuck drops Dan off in Chinatown without his wallet (which they don’t address later, actually — Minus 2) and it’s supposed to be all scary. “This isn’t Brooklyn!” Dan shrieks. Dude, you’ve walked home from farther away. Minus 2.

• “They say in fashion that you can become a success overnight,” says Gossip Girl. “But one minute you’re in, and the next, you’re out.” Really? Really? Was that a condition of Michael Kors’ appearance on the show? Minus 2.

• “You think Capote got national acclaim for In Cold Blood by judging the murderers?” Shapiro asks. Minus 2 for yet another damn Capote reference on this show, and another minus 2 because no, Capote did it by falling in love with the murderers, and if that’s where this all is going, it’s just too obvious.

• Okay, on Fashion Week: At the beginning of the episode Gossip Girl talked about all the shows in the tents at Bryant Park, including Eleanor Waldorf’s show, which wasn’t at the tents at all but at Capitale. Minus 2. Now, nobody who was invited would miss Marc Jacobs, not the least socialites (like Tinsley Mortimer and Christina Cuomo and the fictional Poppy Montgomery) who want to be photographed, or André Leon Talley. Minus 2, because Serena may be charming but she’s not magical. Also, the models wouldn’t be ready to go well before the show started, as Jenny claimed they were — minus 2. And, socialites wouldn’t be as "wafer thin" as models (we’re sorry, they are around too many canapés), so another Minus 2. Oh, and Serena wouldn’t be able to pose for applause and cameras for like ten minutes at the end of the show, nor would André have time to send word backstage about his opinions. Those things are timed. Eleanor wasn’t even backstage as the show ended! Minus a final 2.

Minus 1 also for the fact that Jenny is wearing a string of Jell-O cubes around her neck.

Minus 3 because why doesn’t anybody ever rat out Blair to her mother? Is she the only one who gets to call in adults in case of emergency?

• Dan and Chuck get hauled to jail? We don’t think so. Minus 4 because cops never get called to exclusive clubs, and if they did, the perpetrators would never get arrested. Remember that unreported gay-bashing at 1Oak?

• If Bart Bass’s heart was really so scorched by the loss of his dear wife, wouldn't he have married someone younger and hotter than Lily? Minus 3, but sorry Lily! We love you! Don’t get that (extra) face lift!

• Speaking of Lily: They've been pushing this whole "I was a famed slut who boned Trent Reznor and posed naked for Robert Mapplethorpe" thing from the beginning, but we still aren't buying it — she is just way too prim. Minus only 1 for now, with the expectation that the envelope contains some kind of excellent backstory about how Lily changed abruptly after giving up an acid baby fathered by Bob Geldof for adoption.

• Bart answers the phone with an exasperated "Yeah," when Chuck calls to see if he wants to get a drink; blows him off and then hangs up to take another call. Minus 1. Because it's not like we've never seen Bart and Chuck interact before. Like, look, we know Bart and he may be kind of gruff but he's not that much of a jerk. Remember how he bought him the Box?

Minus 8 for Dan calling Noah Shapiro to bail him out from jail, because, what? What, does he have Shapiro in his five? Minus 2 for the fact that Dan then morphs into Dick Dan and tells Shapiro off. "If I have to exploit people to be a good writer, then maybe I don’t want to be a good writer," he snaps, adding that maybe he'll work on a new story “about a washed-up egomaniacal writer who manipulates his protégé.” Now, we're used to Dan busting out the self-righteousness, but he's not a split personality, and he's way too much of a wuss to tell off the guy who bailed him out of jail during the walk out of jail.

• Wait a minute. Delayed reaction to the first conversation between Noah and Dan, as noted in the previous section. Dan wants to go to Dartmouth, not Yale. He said so during Ivy Week last year. And ... OMFG! The next episode teaser shows Serena and Blair at Yale. Could they be setting the stage for this show to spin off into a college drama? Plus 5 for dreamers who dream dreams. But minus 5 because Serena would never get into Yale, Dan is way more Oberlin, and if we are still recapping this next year when they have graduated to college we will donate our eyeballs to science.

Totals: As per last week, we will await your additions in the comments to add to our final tally, which we'll publish at some point tomorrow. What socialites were lurking in the background at Fashion Week? What was the story with "Headmistress Kweller," and why did they keep repeating her name like that? And while we get that Nate was at his grandparents, where the hell was Vanessa? Let us know your thoughts.