Okay this is one of the most random things I could be writing about considering it’s a show that ended six or so years ago, but I just finished it, and I have thoughts, and this is my blog, so I can talk about whatever trashy show I want to talk about.
Gossip Girl is a treasure of a show that aired on the CW from 2007 to 2012. It caters very nicely to my niche interests in 2000s teen culture. Watching the iconic Chuck Bass turn from chauvinistic, literally-a-sex-offender high schooler into a suave adult billionaire with his equally iconic partner Blair Waldorf is a treat. Watching Nate Archibald struggle to do any task that requires an IQ of greater than 5 is a treat too, sometimes probably not as the showrunners intended, but still. And it was all tied around the titular Gossip Girl, the name of the blog that spread gossip about all of the trust fund kids in Upper East Side Manhattan. The show had its ups and downs over its six seasons, but it all ended in a finale that had loyal viewers like me saying, “…meh.”
To start off, the finale had one big task to check off. Sure, lots of characters were in predicaments that needed settling, but the one major thing that lingered from day 1 was still there: who is Gossip Girl? And the answer we got? Dan Humphrey. Dan is presented as an outsider to the rich students at his fancy Manhattan private school. His single father wasn’t rich, he lived in Brooklyn, he didn’t own anything expensive or exotic, etc etc. He is introduced into the world of the Upper East Siders because of his interest in Serena Van Der Woodsen, who I guess gets the title of protagonist out of the ensemble cast. Throughout the series he never really gets accepted into the world of the bourgeoisie, but he’s friends/off-and-on lovers with them, and he writes successful stories about them, so that’s something. The revelation that he’s Gossip Girl is dumb, yes, but it’s also illogical. There are NUMEROUS moments throughout the series where Dan is seen reading Gossip Girl stories (by himself, no less) and being visibly shocked at what he’s reading. Gossip Girl also released stories about Dan’s sister’s sex life, which would be creepy as hell if it were coming from Dan himself. From a poetic standpoint, it does k i n d o f make sense when seen as Dan being stuck with his outsider persona while also desperately wanting to be on the inside. But then again I don’t think the show was smart enough to present it like that. In reading what the Internet’s consensus on the big reveal was, I came across a few quotes from one of the show’s creators that claimed that the plan was always to have Dan be Gossip Girl, but I don’t know. It just doesn’t feel like that’s how it was supposed to be. There were a few moments in the last two seasons that made sense through the lens of Dan being Gossip Girl, but other than that the reveal just didn’t seem right for the show.
Similarly but also different, another off part of the finale came from how every other character in the show took the Gossip Girl reveal. Dan confessed his alter ego through a piece published on another website in the show, which all of the characters read at once. Only one of them, Blair, was actually upset about it. Gossip Girl had spent years spreading rumors about them, so how could they not be upset to learn who it was? Even stranger, Serena, whom Gossip Girl targeted most often, loved Dan after the reveal. The final scenes in the finale show them getting married five years later. What? Imagine learning someone has been anonymously writing about the intimate details of your life for half a decade. Would you: a)want to get as far away from them as possible or b)marry them? I can’t imagine ever picking the former, but that’s what the Gossip Girl writers wanted. Bottom line: Dan as Gossip Girl doesn’t work, and if it did, he would’ve gotten a lot more hate from the other characters.
I briefly mentioned Chuck and Blair earlier. Their plot got a messy, rushed finish. Throughout the entire series, they play the part of the couple everyone wants to end up together in the end. Their chemistry really is unmatched. By the end though, Chuck’s evil, mogul father Bart, who supposedly died much earlier in the series, comes back to the show after apparently faking the death. He goes on to ruin everyone’s life, and then in a dramatic scene in the episode before the finale, Chuck and Bart fight it out on the roof of a skyscraper. Almost comedically, Bart throws a punch that doesn’t land and flings himself over the side of the building. Chuck doesn’t help him back up, and Bart falls to his real death. This came after Bart previously tried to kill Chuck, but I don’t think it was necessarily self defense at this particular moment. The legality of it seems like it would get fuzzy. And with 40 minutes to resolve everything, the writers didn’t have the time to give this the proper sendoff it deserved. Chuck and Blair had to get hastily married so that Blair wouldn’t have to testify against Chuck. I loved this scene because the hasty wedding was exactly what the two of them would’ve wanted. They never wanted to have a boring romance, and what’s less boring than a quick wedding with the cops taking them away a second after the I dos. But then, right before the Gossip Girl/Dan reveal, Chuck and Blair walk into the room and announce that they won’t be charged because of a lack of evidence or self defense or something. It’s obvious that the writers just wanted to give them a happy ending, but they didn’t have the time to properly give them one, so that’s what we got. Not that I wanted them to end up in prison, but if the last we saw of them was them getting hauled to jail after the wedding, that would’ve been a perfect sendoff. Instead, we got… meh.
Speaking of meh, the finale really pointed out a problem that I had had but couldn’t quite identify throughout the series. The villains never really get their comeuppance. Either they get caught and then immediately disappear, or they have a change of heart, or the show mildly punishes them but ultimately does nothing about it. I guess Bart got killed, but that was the closest they got. One character, Ivy Dickens, who basically scammed her way into the Upper East Side, had been terrorizing the show for two seasons. By the end, her literal crimes still had never seen punishment, and apart from a slight embarrassment, she still never got arrested, or kicked out, or saw any really punishment.
There are probably some more things that didn’t work, but frankly I’m tired, and these concerned me the most. I attribute some of the issues with the finale to be due to the fact that the final season was only ten episodes long, about 14 shorter than a standard season. They had a lot to cover and not a lot of time to do it. The writers also probably wanted to make the Gossip Girl reveal to be something people talked about, so they picked a character that only sorta worked. Or maybe no one knows how to end TV shows. What do I know? I’m just a mediocre writer for a blog two people read.
You know you love me,