December 18, 2012



After 6 years and a 55-minute clip show retrospective, and bearing enough promos for The Carrie Diaries for that show to establish a network of its own, GOSSIP GIRL came to a breezy, mostly satisfying end by concentrating on its original basics:  Blair and Chuck (Leighton Meester and Ed Westwick), Serena and Dan (Blake Lively and Penn Badgley), and the mysterious identity of Gossip Girl him (as it turned out) self.

It would require a far more dedicated Gossip Girl archivist than the present writer to determine whether the reveal that Dan had been the mysterious blogger all along (except for those times when he wasn’t) actually holds together, but it worked well enough dramatically, connecting Dan’s perpetual outsider-hood with the bitchy “Gotcha!” tone of Gossip Girl.  It also served, in the logic of the show, to convince Serena that he really did love her, which allowed the “5 Years Later” epilogue to feature their climactic wedding, the earlier nuptials of Blair and Chuck (its pathway cleared by Bart Bass’s header off the roof last week) not summoning enough joy for the finale’s purposes.  The epilogue, in fact, left just about everyone happy, including somewhat surprisingly Serena’s con man/doctor birth father (William Baldwin), who apparently ended up with Lily (Kelly Rutherford) for his Machiavellian efforts.

Along the way, the script by series co-creator Stephanie Savage (directed by original pilot director Mark Piznarski) found room for an Upper East Side co-op’s worth of cameos, with appearances from such familiar faces as Jessica Szohr, Katie Cassidy, Connor Paolo and the show’s own resident bad girl Taylor Momsen (the only one to rate special treatment in the episode’s opening credits), as well as amusing bits from Kristen Bell (Gossip Girl’s voice from the start), Rachel Bilson, Lisa Loeb and Mayor Bloomberg as versions of themselves.

Gossip Girl was always an escapist soap, but when it started there was a whiff of daring about it, what with the underage sex and drugs, however limited that turned out to be in the actual series.  Some professional disapproval groups denounced it, and the series was off to the races.  Over the years, though, it became a fairly tired roundelay of the same characters segueing from one mate to the next, with Serena now with Nate (Chace Crawford, running for Mayor in the epilogue!) and now with Dan, Dan now with Blair, now with Serena and now with Georgina (Michelle Trachtenberg), Lily with Bart (Robert John Burke), then with Rufus (Matthew Settle), then with Bart again and Rufus again, and so on.  It lost whatever edge it had ever had, and truthfully should have packed up its Louis Vuitton trunks a couple of seasons ago, around the time Ivy was pretending to be Lola (or was it the other way around?).  Ratings declined, and so did Gossip Girl‘s coolness factor.

In the end, though, the final shortened season perked things up sufficiently to allow for some fondness as the show headed to its exit.  While never truly memorable, it was fun more often than not.  Interestingly, none of its young stars have established strong careers for themselves as yet after half a dozen years of celebrity.  Lively’s had the biggest chances, with leads in what turned out to be the bombs Green Lantern and Savages, as well as an OK supporting role in The Town.  Meester has stuck to smaller projects like Country Strong and The Oranges, none of which have made much impact, while Badgley held his own in the high-powered ensemble of Margin Call and reportedly does a good job in the upcoming indie Greetings From Tim Buckley.  Will Gossip Girl turn out to be a gold mine of future stars like Freaks & Geeks, or will its cast be as forgotten as the leads (except for Rachel Bilson) of The OC?  That’s one secret time will tell soon enough.

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."