Eleanor, in case you haven’t read the Gossip Girl books by Cecily von Ziegesar, is the mother of Blair, a well-to-do young teen girl living on the Upper East Side of New York. It’s a charmless exchange from mother to daughter, but it’s part of the consciously shallow world that inhabits Gossip Girl.
Blair and all her designer pals are the East Coast equivalent of The OC, which probably explains why Josh Schwartz is producing this series. It has all the ingredients that made his West Coast series so successful: photogenic kids, teenage romance, peer group pressure, pop soundtrack, fashion, sex and money. Lots of sex and money.
The gossipy narrator in this case is a nameless blog author (how shameless!), voiced by Kristin Bell of Veronica Mars fame. Whereas Mars had streetwise attitude, Gossip Girl aims for broader, if anonymous, social comment. Like Perez Hilton or popbitch the Gossip Girl blog is a must-read, relentlessly and anonymously following the pursuits of its local heroes, “B & S and co.” In a Facebook generation, these kids have to read about themselves online in order to validate their lives, or possibly to salvage them, a nice dramatic conundrum.
The “S” is Serena, whose surprise return to the neighbourhood from boarding school sets tongues wagging, blogs tapping and cell phones texting. What’s SHE doing back? Jealousies, catfights and romantic triangles unfold.
Gossip Girl, which premiered in the US in September, aspires to the lies and deceptions of the venerated Cruel Intentions. Its effortlessly pretty cast look like junior versions of Ashton Kutcher, Gwynneth Paltrow and Joaquin Phoenix. For my money, it was always the geeky Seth who was most interesting in The OC, not the bland, pin-up heroes. But Schwartz, who knows this terrain like the back of his hand, will doubtless find an avid audience.
Much of the pilot episode revolves around the prestigious ‘Kiss on the Lips’ party, a well-catered invitation event. Serena’s mother hopes it might announce her daughters ‘return’ to society. Do they still do that in New York? It’s all terribly Jane Austen in a college kind of way. This blog writer couldn’t help but notice Austen is also an author who, like von Ziegesar, had a lot to say about women, society and private feelings.
These days she’d probably have a blog too.
Gossip Girl premieres 8:30pm Tuesday Dec 4 on FOX8.