I just watched season one of the CW’s Gossip Girl. The whole laborious thing.
There is a reason for this behavior on my part, though it is a bit silly.
Since I have been teaching I have always had my students make a personality profile (cheesily called Mugshots, but a huge thank you to Jett Sangalang at Balboa High School, 1995, for the idea) and cheesy name aside, the kids dig the project in a huge way. Plus I get the added benefit of getting to keep them if they don’t want them at the end of the year. Some of them have been magnificent. Daniel Schrobilgen of Incline Village made one of the most amazing ones I have ever seen, and I gave it to his lovely mother at his request when he graduated. The next day, she was back in my classroom as I was packing up and handed me the piece saying, “Daniel was so upset I took this, he wanted you to have it.” Heartbreaker, that Daniel.
Anyhow, one of the questions on the profile generally has to do with a favorite movie. And somewhere along the line I made a public declaration that I would see every recommended movie I had not seen before the school year ended… suffice it to say it has really broadened my movie watching, and in a lot of ways offered some insights to my students that I would have never gotten otherwise. Because of this, after 13 years – ack – nearly 14, it has become a habit of mine to check out what my people are watching.
So, Gossip Girl.
The availability of television programming and movies via the internet and pirated dvd’s is awesome in Asia. Not really kosher, but you know, when in Rome. And, as with most things, the teenagers are on the cutting edge of all of it. [Thank god for that, otherwise I might be living in total darkness.] For all of these reasons, the Gossip Girl phenom swept through my Hong Kong students like fire in the Trinity Alps. It was nuts, and the variety of kids who were into it, obsessively into it, was very interesting, it was not just the ‘gossipy girls,’ that is for sure.
As I sat through the mildly relevant, slightly vapid soap opera I noticed a few things. I am certainly no longer ‘of that age’ where I find the ups and downs of the jet setting adolescent scene all that interesting (or realistic) but GG includes some parental drama as well – I wonder if this is what the new version of 90210 will offer us – and I thought that would be interesting, but the kids are far more interesting… or maybe just familiar. It turns out I already know all these characters. They have all already been done (and I hate to sound jaded, but done better) by earlier versions of the same concept. Does this make me old? I don’t know, but as usual I think I am right, so it matters not.
GG: Winona Ryder as Veronica in Heathers, ultimately a culpable bitch who always skates… well, at least until the whole school explodes…
Serena Van Der Woodsen: The nice, rich girl with the dodgy past… umm… Hello, Kelly Taylor version 2.0. Thank you Jennie Garth.
Blair Waldorf: Did you all watch The Facts of Life? They didn’t even change the initials on this one… Blair Warner [aka Lisa Welchel] anyone? I mean come on! It is almost too obvious. Spoiled rich girl, all of whose foibles stem from her over-indulgent parents and being just too rich. All together now, “Aaawwwww…..”
Dan Humphrey: The Patsy. So he is the Brandon Walsh, the Skippy from Family Ties, the Duckie from Pretty in Pink, the Farmer Ted from Sixteen Candles. Thank you Jason Priestly, Marc Price, Jon Cryer and Anthony Michael Hall… In the words of Absinthe Blind:
Nate Archibald: Misunderstood rich kid with the heart of gold? Ricky Schroeder on Silver Spoons? I kid, I kid. Probably more like Andrew McCarthy in Pretty in Pink, or most likely, Michael Schoeffling as Jake Ryan in Sixteen Candles. Additionally, from across the gender-barrier Ione Skye in Say Anything.
Chuck Bass: Probably best played by James Spader in Pretty in Pink and Less Than Zero. Spader made the sleepy-eyed, misanthropic, malcontent an art form in it’s own right. Misunderstood character? Probably, but who cares, he didn’t want to work it out anyhow and being sensitive would only compromise his integrity. I gotta say, against my better judgment I still love this character.
Jenny Humphrey: To start with, this bitch SUCKS. But she too has been done before… Let’s go all the way back to Sandy Olsson in Grease. Go Olivia. At least she turned out cool. I do not harbor such hopes for Jenny.
Vanessa Abrams: Ahhh yes, the alternative, poor girl. This one is easy – it is clearly Molly Ringwald from Pretty in Pink. In a pinch she could be Ally Sheedy from Breakfast Club, but Ally was a bit too self-conscious. Could also be Lili Taylor as Corey Flood in Say Anything, or on that note Julia R. in Mystic Pizza.
I guess the concluding thoughts are that I should be doing something better with my time than watching Gossip Girl and that it is true… we’ve all been there before.
I guess that is why we keep on watching.