October 9, 2012



GOSSIP GIRL:  Monday 9PM on CW

WHERE WE WERE:  Blair (Leighton Meester) with Chuck (Ed Westwick), and then not.  Serena (Blake Lively) with Dan (Penn Badgley), and then not.  Mix, then repeat.  Other things happened:  Serena was Gossip Girl for a while, but that didn’t turn out well for anyone–particularly the show.  Nate (Chace Crawford) started a online gossip tabloid of his own.  Bart Bass (Robert John Burke) came back from the supposed dead and immediately proved himself to be the same crappy dad he’d always been, throwing Chuck out of his own company.  This for some reason turned Lily (Kelly Rutherford) on, and she dumped Rufus (Matthew Settle) for Bart almost at once.  There was a tremendous amount of time spent on Lily’s fake niece Ivy (Kaylee Defer), which isn’t worth getting into.  When we last saw everyone, Blair was back with Chuck, Dan was going to write yet another tell-all book about the Upper East Side (but this one nonfiction!) with the help of the dreaded Georgina (Michelle Trachtenberg), and Serena was fingering a vial of coke.

WHERE WE ARE:  The beginning of the end.  GOSSIP GIRL was renewed for a final curtailed season of 10 episodes, an event marked by the return of series creators Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage to write the Season 6 premiere, and even of the series’s pilot director Mark Piznarski behind the camera.  The episode began with a fair amount of promise, as all our characters gathered in a hunt for Serena, who (somewhat unconvincingly) hadn’t been seen or heard from in 4 months without anyone noticing.  As the season settled in for its new storylines, however, things became far less interesting.  Serena, it developed, was neither in rehab or a mental ward, but had remade herself as “Sabrina from Wisconsin,” as whom she was serving as Maid of Honor in a gay wedding, and, with her van der Woodsen luck, found yet another super-rich love of her life, who will no doubt turn out to have some dark secret.  Blair, meanwhile, was in yet another pact with Chuck, the two of them agreeing despite their yearning love for one another to stay apart until Chuck finished unlocking Bart’s hidden doings (which, based on his progress thus far, should take about 100 more years) and Blair was running her mother’s fashion company.  In the worst plotline, Rufus was being seduced in more ways than one by Ivy, which was just… unseemly.

The season premiere script was dotted with some meta touches, mostly in Kristen Bell’s Gossip Girl narration (“I know you may think my best years are behind me…”), not to mention a late-to-the-party namedrop for Meester for her movie Country Strong.  (What, they couldn’t find a way for her to mention The Roommate?)  With just a limited number of hours left and the return of the original creative team, it would genuinely be nice to say that Gossip Girl looked to be regaining its groove before exiting.  The signs tonight weren’t very promising, however.  Despite some enjoyably barbed dialogue (Georgina brings out the best in the writers), and a cast that still has some spark–especially Meester and Badgley–we’ve just been through too many variations of these central romances over the years.  It’s awfully hard to get exercised about Blair ending up with Chuck when we’ve forgotten why we were ever rooting for them in the first place, or to care about who Gossip Girl “really” is.  One hopes that some of the supporting characters that have enlivened the show, like Dorota (Zuzanna Szadkowski) and Blair’s huggable stepdad Cyrus (Wallace Shawn) return before we’re done, while on the other hand there’s been more than enough of both the real and fake Ivy.

The mantle of witty, classy, romantic teen soap has passed from Gossip Girl to new territories like ABC Family and MTV, but Girl was fun while it lasted, and one can’t begrudge it a victory lap.  The hope, though, is that the lap really does mark a victory, and there are still some worthwhile twists and surprises yet to come.  It would be sad if the show’s last season were just a trudge along some obligatory route of party scenes.  Official final seasons give great freedom to a show’s writers, who can, without worrying about long-term consequences, allow just about anything to happen.  Gossip Girl deserves to go out making the most of that.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."