An Open Letter To ‘Gossip Girl,’ The Day After Its Last And Final Season Finale
Dear Gossip Girl,
Our introduction really wasn’t the best. I was watching you merely as a favor to a friend, with a self righteous determination to make you a hate project. And for the first few episodes, you fulfilled your obligation with aplomb. I thought you were stupid and superficial and nauseatingly glossy. Overproduced and overhyped garbage.
But then something happened to change our relationship forever. Somewhere between an impromptu Burlesque exhibition and the back of a limo, a boy fell in love with a girl, and I fell in love with a show. I thought it was just a fleeting notion and that equilibrium would return momentarily, but to my surprise, I realized I’d accidentally developed lasting feelings for you and, even more surprisingly, you actually deserved them. Your writing got better as your one liners became sharper, your dialogue more genuine; your characters actually developed nuances, no longer scheming and blackmailing with the singular purpose of driving the plot, but for actual reasons and motives that felt relatively authentic; your pacing exploded, flying through arcs and storylines at breakneck speed, meeting new characters just long enough to witness their social annihilation before their usually unceremonious, but ultimately well timed, exit; and you made the unofficial but still perceptible change as you shifted your primary focus from Blake Lively’s Serena van der Woodsen to Leighton Meester’s Blair Waldorf, probably the most essential key to your longevity.
Most of all, you were fun. A lot of fun.
I’d previously thought of you as the perfect embodiment of The CW itself, tawdry and deficient and sterilized. An embarrassment to the teen demographic too apathetic and ignorant to realize they’re being condescended to. And while my assumption was correct, it was for the wrong reasons. You weren’t everything that’s inherently wrong with The CW, you were everything that’s conceivably right about it.
You created characters that, for the most part, managed to be equal parts deplorable and endearing, while, if not always likeable, at the very least were always entertaining. You created a world and lexicon all your own. To a Gossip Girl fan, pie isn’t just pie, scotch isn’t just scotch. Peonies, Cabbage Patch Dolls, headbands, bowties, limos, gin, waffles, macarons, and a very special scarf are all imbued with meaning and possess complex, and often sordid, histories. You gave us the Non-Judging Breakfast Club, the hierarchy of the Met steps, yogurt bombs, Nairtinis, and Charlie Trout. You gave us Audrey dreams, the Cleavage Rhombus, a dog named Monkey, french fries on Thanksgiving, the delightful deviousness of Georgina Sparks, the aching beauty of the Leighton Meester Single Tear, the revolving door that is Lily van der Woodsen’s husbands, and an antihero with a penchant for purple. You taught us that tights are not pants, that in a threesome the third person should always be a stranger, and that the phrase “I’m Chuck Bass” can be used in literally any situation. Because of you, we know how to spot ponzi schemes and to always be wary of attending masked balls because if we don’t stay hyper vigilant, our doppelganger will show up and we will be gaslit. You allowed us to witness in fascinated horror the radical devolution of one Taylor Momsen, letting us rubberneck at each stage of her progression from fresh faced and doe eyed Little J to full on Teenage Zombie Stripper. You made faux incest and rampant homoeroticism a thing again. And most of all, you gave us Chair.
But then, almost overnight it seemed, you imploded.
Your efforts to ruin everything that was once so wonderful about yourself were so swift and thorough, they were almost Herculean. Gone was any and all character consistency. Dialogue, much like Blair’s hair, became flat, dull, and lifeless. Your generously frenzied pace slowed to an absolute crawl, allowing characters like the walking black hole that is Raina Thorpe, who would have once been disposed of inside of two episodes, to hang around for the whole back half of the season. Even Gossip Girl herself, infamous for her humorously cruel remarks and so-bad-they’re-good puns, started speaking in nonsensical Rolling Stones riddles and sounding like she was on the crack. You were lazy, you were incompetent, you were no longer fun, and worst of all, you were boring.
Somehow you’d become exactly the kind of show that people who’ve never seen you think you are.
And all of this before your fifth season.
I won’t fully delve into the atrocities you committed in season five, partly because they are too numerous, partly because somehow over the course of twenty four episodes it still feels as though nothing of even minute interest happened, and partly because it’s all still kind of painful. There was a royal wedding, a garish Princess Diana homage, a forgotten miscarriage, an absurd pact with God, a dowry (seriously), the quick and undignified demise of the beloved CeCe Rhodes, and the revival of a deceased sociopath. We met the many faces of Charlie Rhodes. Elizabeth Hurley became Chuck’s 367th mother. Penn Badgley was cast as Jeff Buckley, ensuring that each new episode didn’t just break your heart with its crater sized plotholes and asinine storylines, but also assaulted your sensibilities with the crime against humanity that was his ever expanding hair. Also, Dair happened.
Considering all this, the fact that you were granted a sixth season at all is astounding to the point of being labeled a small miracle. However deserving, the fact that you were given a mere ten episodes as a final season seemed humiliating at first; I mean, you didn’t even get a full half season. But after giving it more thought, this felt like a blessing. The showrunner who ran you into the ground abandoned you to go spread his creative prowess on Smash, a show so deserving of his talents it’s almost as if divine intervention brought it about. Ten episodes actually felt like a solid number — long enough for one last hurrah, short enough that only so many new (boring) characters and plots could be crowded in. I thought it meant you’d be forced to return to your original swift pace, that you’d have just enough time to try, however futilely, to repair all the damage you’d so ruthlessly, and I expect thoughtlessly, wreaked. I thought your main goal would be to bring the characters and the show back from the darkness and provide fan service for the few viewers who’ve remained by your side through these difficult times. I thought these were things you would want to do.
I was mistaken.
Your final season has been just as meandering and ultimately shallow, if not, mercifully, as abhorrent, as the one preceding it. Hollow cameos from notable alumni, half hearted meta comments about your approaching end, possibly the most convoluted subplot you’ve ever had which can be described through the many preposterous equations of “horses = oil = murder = falling off a building” it’s generated, and the introduction of Sage, the obvious representation of the Upper East Side’s bratty next generation do not a satisfying finale make. The only reason most of your audience is even still watching you at all, is for Chuck and Blair. Yet you’ve kept them apart, dropping anvil sized hints that anything interesting between them will be saved for the finale. This makes for a rather trifling first nine episodes. You think that spending nine episodes posting a sign that reads “Fear not that this episode is unbearable, for the finale will be totally awesome!” is a legitimate way to get through this season. You were given ten episodes, and yet you seem to believe only one is of consequence. This is a disgrace. It is clear that you no longer care at all in even the slightest, and you make me feel foolish for doing so.
A Gossip Girl fan is a curious thing. I’ve never been able to understand abusive relationships. How they could exist. I could never comprehend why someone wouldn’t leave something that intentionally and repeatedly hurt them because of pleasant memories of better times. You have cured me of my naïve misconception. For a long time now, you have been nothing short of truly heinous. You’ve abused your audience with one illogical, incomprehensible, and repulsive storyline after another. One by one you’ve systematically destroyed everything good about your characters and turned them into disgusting caricatures of the great people they once were. You are nothing but an empty shell of your former self. But despite all that, you are not loved by your fans. You are cherished. Nothing is more holy than “three words, eight letters.” Nothing is more derisive than being compared to Vanessa Abrams. Nothing is as repellent as the douchey ways of Aaron Rose. Nothing is as heartwarming as the first notes of Shiny Toy Guns’ Season of Love. We cannot leave you. It is impossible. We will suffer through each new episode, as you reach terrifying new lows, and then immediately begin feverishly anticipating the arrival of the next Monday night.
Once upon a time, you unquestionably deserved such devotion, but no more. At your best you were a pulpy, frothy, escapist paradise where the combustible chemistry and superb acting of Leighton Meester and Ed Westwick occasionally allowed you to transcend your genre. But that was a long time ago. Now you’re just a mind numbingly slow train wreck, so boring I wouldn’t even bother watching if not for the unshakeable feeling that the rescuers will pull out a survivor that I think I might have known once but can no longer remember the name of.
Tonight you air a new episode for the very last time ever. I have conflicting feelings about this. Even just two short years ago I would have cried, “Not enough!” and meant it in the very fiber of my being. But now, I mostly just feel an encroaching freedom. There’s also sadness, it’s true, but with it brings the faith that I will never experience a fresh disappointment. Soon you will live in a continuous DVD loop, forever cocooned in your early exquisite beauty. You were once sincerely lauded The Greatest Show of Our Time, and tonight you die.
I cannot help but hope that your finale will reunite you with a small portion of your former glory, but I do not expect it.
My life will improve when you are finally gone; I will miss you in devastating ways.
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