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Network Television Rundown: New Setting, Same Old Story

Well, it's that time of year again. The leaves are changing into their glorious display of reds and yellows and oranges, the cold wind is blowing in from the east, and Gossip Girl has started a new season, full of promise and fresh plot lines.

Wrong!!

If you haven't seen the two episodes of Gossip Girl so far, then SPOILER ALERT: IT'S STILL MOSTLY A WILL THEY/WON'T THEY OF CHUCK & BLAIR AND SERENA, DAN, & NATE.

I really want this season to be good. I'm glad that Jenny is gone, because her plot was really annoying last season, and I'm glad that (so far) there isn't much in the way of adult (Rufus and Lily) plot to distract us from the young, beautiful people doing terrible things to each other. I was excited that the first two episodes were actually shot in Paris, where we join our friends Serena and Blair as they sort out their boy problems (yet again) and compete with each other in ridiculous ways (yet again). But despite the ridiculous cliffhanger that ended the last season and the pretty, sparkling Paris backdrop, the characters are reverting to their old, two-dimensional ways.

Blair is still in love with Chuck, but of course something always gets in the way. She compensates for her feelings of insecurity by acting like a bitch and by creating ridiculous competitions with Serena. She is still her own worst enemy. She ruined a date with a prince because she was too concerned with being part of high society and not following her heart blah blah blah zzzzzzz.

Dear writers: please let Blair grow up a little bit already. Thanks. I like her so much and I'm always rooting for her to rise above all this high school stuff, but she seems to get pulled back in again and again. I cannot keep watching her make a fool out of herself. This is not Frasier; let's show some character growth.

And where is Serena in all this? Why, grappling with her bad girl past and her desire to set her life straight, of course! Just like in the first season. And who is she left choosing between? Dan and Nate. Enough, already. Dear Serena: Nate is hot and loves you. Dan is a douche bag. Doi. Choose Nate.

I'm the most angry with how quickly the Chuck plot seemed to resolve. Chuck missing, disappearing from society, assuming a new identity in Paris...that could be interesting. But of course both Blair and Serena find him in one episode's time and convince him that he cannot run away from his life, etc. I wish it had taken a little longer for Chuck to return to NY and to his old circles. I'm also irritated that Chuck was shot and left for dead in an alley in Prague and he is some how found, tended to (without any medical or police intervention? Really? I mean, I know this show isn't exactly striving for realism, but come on...) and ends up in the very city where Blair and Serena find themselves. It all just seemed a little too easy...even for the CW.

Now, I've talked about--nay, criticized--Gossip Girl over and over again, and maybe I'm just as bad as it is for spouting the same old tired critique. But I keep coming back, and that should say something. I have faith in this show. I want to like it, and so I watch, and watch, and even though when I sit down to say something about it I'm usually forced to acknowledge how much the writers are just giving me the same old thing, I enjoy each episode. So what is it that keeps me coming back?

I really like the Serena/Blair relationship. I love how much they love each other, despite their consistent problems. I love that Chuck Bass will always be Chuck Bass, and that even his attempt to escape that identity lasts for fewer than two episodes. I love the clothes they wear. I love how much I hate Dan Humphrey. I love looking at Nate. I love this show. But often, when we love something, we expect so much more from it. I hope that this season gets past the same old stories and gets into something, if not new, at least a little bit more interesting.

Some things that I am looking forward to: Dan has a baby with Georgina! That's pretty great. And everyone is largely OK with it, which is amazing. I'm also pleased that Dan chose Vanessa and Nate has his new girlfriend (who I think might be a serial killer? Is that what we were supposed to get out of her cryptic phone calls and her crazy newspaper clippings? Help me out, GG fans.) and that neither chose Serena. What will you do now, S? So despite my disappointment in the first two episodes, maybe they're just setting the stage for great things to come this season. Or maybe, the characters will continue to make the same mistakes, over and over, and I'll keep watching, because that's the human condition. Maybe GG is really making a profound statement about what it is to exist in our culture, where we run around in circles, doomed to repeat the same stupid mistakes in different situations, operating under the illusion of progress.

Or maybe I just like the clothes they wear.

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  1. Blogger chris | 1:16 PM |  

    Whoa, that last paragraph (before the clothes thing) is a mind-eff. Nice work Brigitte! Can't wait to watch GG vicariously through your posts as the season progresses/circulates through its unending struggle.

  2. Blogger Papa Thor | 8:25 AM |  

    I think we will cancel TV this year and just have the internet.

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