Gossip Girl: Erase/Rewind

That's right Upper East Siders, Constance Billard is out for the summer... and, what a year it's been! We've had a strike, offscreen romance, onscreen romance, more onscreen romance and at least 96 tears.

The season finale of Gossip Girl remained true to exquisite form. In one episode, the writers brought everything full circle. For any loyal readers out there -- those who may have read my first Gossip Girl post -- this more or less proves the solidity of my underlying analysis of what makes the show tick, and what makes it glorious entertainment:
The genius of Gossip Girl is not that it's about anticipating what's not going to happen, but rather hoping that things stay the same. The suspense of Gossip Girl rests on the ability of the characters to stay the same.
This "conundrum of stasis" and the underlying existential view of character that generates it, played out brilliantly in the season finale. Each character stretched the limits of what they believed themselves capable of, but, in the end, returned to their state of nature.

Dan experimented with lying to and manipulating Georgina. Nate punched his father again. Lilly slept with Rufus (at least, that's what we're led to believe based on their waking up in the same bed together -- the same, in fact, did not hold true for Dan and Georgina). Rufus learned how to put a bracelet on a woman's wrist. Serena cried at her mother's fifth wedding. Blair and Chuck flirted with the notion of a monogamous relationship. Vanessa was almost not annoying for the entire episode. Eric and Jenny were irrelevant.

But then, Dan decides he wants no more of the twisted, two-faced world of Sonia Rykiel Secrets, Roberto Cavalli revenge and Taste tit-for-tats. Nate takes some time to brood alone, attractively, again. Lilly says "Goodbye to all that jazz/alt-rock" and marries her a Bart Bass. Rufus smiles impotently as his dream of love rekindled falls flat like the sales of a Lincoln Hawk reissue. Serena cries when Dan breaks up with her. Blair intends to join the mile-high club (is that supposed to be capitalized?) with some george-hamilton-wannabe, while Chuck gets it on with yet another gullible and insipid, anorexic interior designer. Vanessa disappears, until she reappears. Eric remains jauntily irrelevant... Jenny -- hmm, what's going on with Jenny?

And so, at the end of the season, the old order is restored. Serena and Nate make nice on their vacay -- hinting at the possibility of one of the most boring onscreen romances ever. Blair and Chuck decide to embrace their character faults and desire for instant gratification, rather than to grow up. Dan and Vanessa restore their friendship within the confines of an "art school reject" bonhomie. Rufus is a rocker, revived, and takes his band on tour as -- of all clever references, the opening act for the Breeders. The Haves stick with the Haves, and the television Have-Nots stick with the Have-Nots. The writers push Reset, setting the viewers up for another go round of glossy envelope-pushing and lurid self-indulgent experimentation.

I can't wait until next season...

When I can only hope to see some resolution of the following issues:

Dan is rapidly becoming the most unbearable male protagonist on a television series. What is up with that? He tells Serena, "I didn't sleep with Georgina, but I might as well have" only seconds before her mother's wedding? Come on, kid, show some class. Dan demonstrates yet again how, for the under-20 set, Honesty is the lamest of all character flaws -- and the most sadistic.

Jenny is quickly becoming the most intriguing character on the show. What with her new fashion school contract (or whatever it was that they snuck in in the last minute of the show) with Blair's designing mom, she looks the most poised to attain substantive social ascension through the ranks of Constance Billard, but this time based upon image, not ability. In the way that her character plays on both image-based status and merit-based status, consistently represented through sartorial metaphors -- the stolen dress, the confusion of designer labels, the sewing machine -- Jenny plays upon the deep themes of the 19th century German romantic anti-hero.

The vanishing token asian: There she is in the upper right hand corner, almost hidden behind Jenny...

But that was from the pre-strike episodes. Then, token asian disappeared completely, until Desperately Seeking Serena, when the writers brought in a new token asian, the infamous Nelly Yuki, naturally musically adept and with a gift for standardized tests. Her one weakness? Obviously social awkwardness and "boy trouble." However, Nelly's reign as token Asian lasted only two episodes, through All About my Brother, and then she, too, was gone.

Here's my idea to remedy this issue for next season: Why not draw in a maturing tween viewership, who will have outgrown Suite Life of Zack and Cody by next Fall? Bring in Brenda Song's character, London Tipton, as a new girl at Constance Billard. In fact, spoiled hotel heiress, London Tipton would fit in quite well with the CB crowd, and could be a potential love interest for spoiled hotel heir, Chuck Bass. Makes you go hmm, doesn't it?

Finally, I have an issue with some of the commercials.
I was very alarmed by the message of the Clearasil ads that suggested that young women with clear complexions should go around aggressively and inappropriately touching people. I know that young women today are getting messages that often confuse pathological behavior with empowerment, but the message that rubbing your face up against every man you meet is confidence -- well, it's just deeply disturbing.

Also, the erratic behavior of the woman in the Secret ads who disrupted traffic and almost turned herself in to the police for a crime she didn't commit would have some of our easily influenced teenagers checked in to the behavioral health ward. Again, do we really want to promote this kind of self-destructive behavior for young women?
It's bad enough for the boys growing up under the influence of Axe ads...

Until then, anyone have recommendations for some good summer reading?


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