Thursday, October 11, 2007

Gossip Girl Review -- 1x04, "Bad News Blair"

Gossip Girl Review -- 1x04, "Bad News Blair"

I missed the beginning of this week's Gossip Girl while fiddling with my new, super-finicky HD antenna. Once I tuned in, having switched back to good old regular-def, I was catapulted into a bonding sesh with Blair, Serena, and Mommy Waldorf. We hear that Blair and Serena are going to spend the day together, and they seem very happy in their reunitedness. Meanwhile, Chuck and Nate and dozens of their friends are going to go on a Lost Weekend, meaning that they will shut themselves in a hotel and do all the naughty things Chuck tells them to do.

But the Lost Weekend is crashed! By a stubbly man named, I believe, Carter, who graduated back when Chuck and Nate were teeny eighth-graders and went off to Do His Own Thing, which means that Nate, who doesn't have the guts to do it himself, admires him. "He looks intense," says the lovestruck Nate, to which Chuck replies, "He looks like Matthew McConaughey between movies." Oh, Chuck, how I love you. Chuck spends most of the rest of the episode hating on the stubble and its owner, while Nate continues falling in love -- excuse me, I mean totally asexual hero-worship -- with his new friend, only to discover at the end of the episode that his dad has totally wiped his trust fund. Oh no! Looks like now he might have to adopt that fanny pack.

Meanwhile, on the subject of Bad Parents, Blair's mom picks Blair as the face of her new line! Unfortunately, Blair is horribly stiff in front of the camera. She and Serena, once again BFFs, go to the shoot together and Serena helps her loosen up, and it's adorable and touching (really), but you totally know what's coming. Sure enough, next day, Serena is picked over Blair to be the new model -- Eleanor Waldorf tricks Serena into showing up alone by telling her that Blair is coming "later."

Serena's got her own drama on the side -- she keeps ditching poor annoying Dan Humphrey for Blair. To Dan (and to Serena, who, like Nate, chooses to live like a trust fund baby but constantly try to disown her own choices), this is kowtowing to the Shallow World of the Wealthy, rather than female solidarity or, hell, I don't know, trying to make up to your best friend for the fact that you stole her boyfriend. Anyway, on the day of the second shoot, Dan shows up just in time to disbelieve that Serena was tricked, just as Blair disbelieves her. They share a great moment of bonding in the hall, despite Blair's having been constantly mean to Dan the entire episode, and Dan's deeply-held belief that Blair is barely even human. They are so Pacey and Joey. I give it a season and a half.

Meanwhile, Serena confronts Blair's mom (who makes a hilarious, snotty, Mean-Girls-esque face at Dan when she asks what he's doing there) and quits. Eventually Blair realizes that her mom is the baddie, and she and Serena decide to steal all the Waldorf clothes and have a nice day out on the town, taking pictures of themselves and being generally silly and adorable. By then, Dan's out of the picture. Good riddance -- that deeper-than-thou thing is so sexy when you're in high school, as Serena is, but it gets tiresome afterwards!

So the first half of this episode was, I'll admit, a touch boring. It was nice to see Serena and Blair bonding and all but let's face it, we're here to see them bring on the mean. Chuck, of course, saves any scene he's in with his own particular brand of laid-back, rich-boy evilness. And once Blair's mom enters the picture, acting like a snobby high-school girl herself (the actress goes a little over-the-top for a woman of her age, which is what makes it so funny), the plotting and wickedness grows exponentially.

Plus, I love Serena and Blair being nice to each other. The photo scene was, though ominous, sweet as pie, and the last scene with the two out on the town was even more light-hearted and adorable. The dynamic between them is complicated partly because Serena, though she obviously doesn't mind attention, would attract it whether she wanted it or not. She's that girl who literally turns heads when she walks down the street (there's a scene this week that shows Blair noticing, and half-resenting, it). And her relationship with Blair is obviously colored by the fact that Blair understands why people are drawn to her friend, yet still can't help being envious of it. So it's sometimes impossible for Blair, or the rest of us, to tell, whether she steals the spotlight on purpose, or thoughtlessly, or simply because she has that quality, that charisma, that people can't ignore. Although I think Blake Lively is basically the last actress on earth other than Mischa Barton to actually possess that kind of charisma, she does have fantastic hair, she did a pretty good job this week and has great chemistry with Blair, and the writing is good enough for me to suspend my disbelief.

This episode really demonstrated the ways in which Blair is a great character. She's a huge improvement on her obvious predecessor Summer, who was shallow and bitchy at first, but was eventually turned into that spunky girl with a heart of gold we've seen in a dozen other movies. Blair, in contrast, does things weekly -- hourly! -- that are undeniably wrong and that heart of gold has kind of shrivelled to a tiny kernel as she works her way to the top of her social sphere. Dan's justified to wonder if she's really got anything going for her, but as viewers we can enjoy all facets of her awesomeness.

In Summary: Bit of a fall-off, but saves itself by the end!

ETA: good news - Gossip Girls was just picked up for a full season. For a link on this story and other meta-gossip about this show, visit gossipgirlchat!

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