We’re about three episodes into Gossip Girl’s third season, and I’d be loathe to let another week go by without discussing this most wonderful of teen soaps â€” the best ever, I might be so bold to say (disclaimer: I never watched 90210 or really any other teen soap except for The OC. My sample size is very small). Anyway, most of the clan has moved on to college, and while we’ve lost some major wonderful elements of the show (Penelope, Nelly, Hazel, et al.), Gossip Girl still remains greatly watchable and totally fun. I do have some fears about how next week’s Tyra Banks-starring episode will play out (see clip above), but if there’s anything this series has proven, it’s the ability to rebound from daffy storylines and silly diversions (ahem, Jenny’s fashion career).
In fact, Gossip Girl should be credited for moving its central characters to college so seamlessly. Perhaps Josh Schwartz learned his lesson after the utter failure which was The OC’s college season (which I believe was its last). I don’t know what that lesson was, but he learned it, and Gossip Girl seems to be on strong footing. Of course, it helps matters when all the kids are still in NYC, with four of them attending NYU and a fifth, Nate, stranded in the as-yet-to-be-seen netherworld of Columbia (which in real life played the role of Yale on this show last season â€”Â maybe they want us to forget that before any further location shoots).
Speaking of Nate, it seemed as though he might be returning to form at the start of the season when he began an illicit affair with a chirpy young lass named Brie (or Bree? I don’t know) Buckley, but sadly, their story line seems to have fizzled â€”Â like so many Nate Archibald sagas. You see, Brie hails from the Buckley clan â€” a.k.a the McCoys to the Vanderbilts’s Hatfields; the Capulets to Nate’s Montagues; the Les Mis to the Archibalds’s Phantom. Point is, their families hate each other in the most inconsolable ways, but thankfully, young lust knows no bounds, and now both frisky scions are totally DOING IT all over the place.
Yes, these two had a lot of promise in the beginning, but after spending an entire episode sitting in bed and yet another simply walking down the sidewalk, the intrigue has somewhat cooled off. It infuriates me how the writers never seem to know what to do with Nate. I mean, we know he’s supposed to be the soulful heartthrob, but really, when it comes to introspection, that’s Dan Humphrey’s job. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again â€”Â Nate has to be the preppy party boy. I suppose that infringes on Chuck’s character a touch, but that’s okay. Besides, Chuck is locked down to Blair and various mogul aspirations. We need a new philanderer in the group.
Luckily, at the end of the third episode, it appeared that perhaps the Brie / Nate situation might be showing some signs of life. Brie not only eavesdropped on Serena and Blair talking about Georgina (or was it Carter? I’m too old to remember such things), but she also had a run in with Carter Basin that indicated they too have a sordid past that will surely be used for leverage in various evil schemes. And of course, when it comes to evil schemes in the Archibald circles, we know how they always end: with Nate big-eyed and slackjawed â€”Â sort of like a stoner watching that video of a shrimp on a treadmill.
Nevertheless, I’m hoping Carter can spice up the world of Nate since for the first time in three seasons, he’s actually enjoyable to watch (despite his chronic failure to ever wear a belt with his dapper Banana Republic-esque wardrobe). Season one, Carter was a hateable bum. Season two, Carter was a hateable rich kid. Season three, ehhh, the guy’s not bad! He actually seems to have chemistry with Serena, and let’s face it, it’s time that she had a boyfriend who was worthy of her social stature. No more of these Brooklyn-loving artist / intellectual types. I mean, Dan Humphrey sucks. Aaron Samuels was even worse. I was afraid Serena’s next lay was gonna be some indie guitarist from the depths of Williamsburg. Thankfully we dodged that bullet (for now, at least. We know how much Josh Schwartz loves his indie-music).
Anyway, the whole Carter-Serena romance is quite nice; however, the various other things circling around Serena seem a bit off. The whole gambit about her being a papa… papaRAZZI (sorry, the song’s been in my head) whore for the sake of earning the attention of her wayward father was what I like to call a stretch. And by stretch, I’m talking about Kate Gosselin in the maternity ward stretch. I give the writers props for developing Serena as a socialite one might read about in the Post or Gawker, but seriously, let’s not be ridiculous. Thankfully that contrived paparazzi story seems to be tabled for the moment, but I’m sure it will return.
Speaking of returns, I’m still eagerly awaiting Lilly’s first appearance this season. I know she just popped out a kid (as evidenced by the coterie of pillows and handbags that always seemed to flock to her midsection last season), and I know she’s involved in a bitter lawsuit with her ex, but bitch better get back to work because the Humphrey-van der Woodsen household has become dreadfully dull with Rufufth at its head. I mean â€”Â Jenny has all but disappeared, which is a total shame given how great her character was season one. I think the writers owe us some better Little J stories. Remember back in the day when she was nothing but a wee ingenue disrupting the entire social order of Constance Billard? She was arguably one of my favorite characters back then. And then came season two with its ridiculous arc of Jenny crashing and burning in the fashion world before she all but disappeared from the show, save for a random battle over Pinkberry.
Now Jenny (and Eric) are complete non-entitities. I understand the difficulty â€”Â she no longer exists in the same world as the rest of the teens, who’ve all moved on to college â€”Â but give her SOMETHING. And please, for the sake of my eyes, make her look like a high schooler again (ie. fix that wannabe rocker model hair). As for Eric… I don’t know. Have him sleep with the dean of NYU or something. That’s an easy fix.
As for NYU, things are crackling over there. Much much fun has been had so far. In fact, the second episode of the season, which focused on everyone arriving at college, was absolutely fantastic â€”Â funny, tight, scheming. Perfect, really. Not even Vanessa can ruin the enjoyment, and she ruins EVERYTHING. In fact, the biggest shock of all was that when her boyfriend / hidden Humphrey, Scott, finally revealed that he was actually the love child of Rufufth and Lily, Vanessa up and didn’t ruin THAT. After all, he told her to not tell anyone so he could tell Rufufth himself, and what did she do? She told Dan. Well, she sort of told Dan, but before she could do the whole “DON’T TELL ANYONE” thing, Georgina came along, and then Dan and Georgina did an investigation, and then the two of them almost caused a whole scene at an auction â€”Â all because of Vanessa. But get this… they didn’t really. And later, when Scott lied to Rufufth about being his son (twist! we thought he would tell the truth!), Vanessa shockingly did NOT spill the beans anyway. Hmmmm…. something’s not right here. And she’s looking more glamorous than ever. Clearly this is her evil twin. I’m sure it will all come out in episode five.
Meanwhile, Vanessa’s buddy Dan continues to be super annoying and judgmental and sarcastic, which is nothing new. However, now actor Penn Badgley is all jacked, and it’s become obvious to most viewers that there’s an element of obnoxious preening in his gait. Hey, good for him for bulking up a tad, but exactly what type of soulful, literary-wannabe, DUMBO resident gets jacked over the summer? He’s supposed to be wasting away and growing a beard and talking about David Foster Wallace in a contrarian way. Alas. Just another reason why Dan Humphrey sucks.
Luckily, he seems to have gotten over that whole chip on his shoulder about wealthy people. Maybe that’s because he’s no longer on the bottom of the social totem pole. He seems to be running NYU and suddenly quite content with life. And when he’s not patronizing that dingy coffee shop or cramming his face with waffles (HE EATS THEM LIKE A POP TART. WTF???), he’s apparently banging Georgina Sparks. Yes, Georgina is back again and better than ever. Seriously. Season one, I always felt her evilness was always a bit too serious for such a campy show. Visions of Oliver from The OC flittered through my head (and many others, apparently). She then disappeared for many episodes, only to resurface season two for a wacky turn as a born again Christian in Jesus Camp. This we could get behind. Of course, she was still a psycho, but now she was a FUNNY psycho, and all was right with the world. She schemed her way into being Blair’s roommate, and now in season three, she’s undermining her nemesis at every turn in the most enjoyable of ways. I’m not sure how I feel about her and Dan (at least it’s better than Peggy and Duck, but that’s off topic); however, Dan sucks. He deserves a crazy psycho broad.
As for Blair, she’ll always be excellent. It’s sort of depressing seeing her without a flock to lead, but it’s been fun watching her try to reign over her dorm mates. Of course, Georgina has dashed every plan Blair’s hatched for dominance, which has been great, but let’s be honest here. If someone threw a free sushi party in my community lounge during college, I would be there in a heartbeat. Heck, it doesn’t even have to be during college. Free food is free food. People race to that. But of course these kids were allegedly full from pizza and were busy watching Vanessa’s documentary (UGH, Vanessa ruins EVERYTHING). They don’t deserve sushi anyway.
While Blair isn’t trying to take over NYU (with the help of Dorota), she’s fawning over Chuck, who seems to have taken on a Michael Douglas in Wall Street look this season. He hasn’t really done too much so far â€”Â except for attempting to start a speakeasy in a hotel (although, now he wants to buy the hotel entirely). His burgeoning tycoon saga is cool and all, but I like Chuck most when he’s whoring himself out all over Manhattan. Whatever happened to that lovable rapist from the series premiere? Let’s bring him back!
All in all though, while I miss the petty intrigue of high school drama and power plays, Gossip Girl still entertains immensely. Credit the writers for keeping the action light and swift. By this time in its run, The OC had gotten bogged down in melodrama and overwrought seriousness. Gossip Girl, however, seems to know exactly what it is and has stayed admirably on track for better or worse.
What do you think about the new season? What do you want to see more of? What do you want to see less of?