Gossip Girl: The Complete First Season

Gossip Girl: The Complete First Season
Ever since Beverly Hills 90210 ushered in a new era of "scandelicious” television, the teen drama has had one nauseating rollercoaster ride over the last two decades. Only a few managed to rise above the schmaltz and schlock (My So-Called Life, Freaks and Geeks, Veronica Mars) but according to the respected New York Magazine, Gossip Girl is not only "changing the way we watch television” but it’s also the "Best. Show. Ever.” Following the cancellation of once-great teen drama The O.C. last year, creator Josh Schwartz found his inspiration in Cecily von Ziegesar’s best-selling novel series and decided to adapt it for television. Set in the Upper East Side of NYC, the series begins with a juicy bit of er, gossip when party girl Serena van der Woodsen (Blake Lively) returns home from boarding school. Why she left is unknown to everyone, including best friend Blair Waldorf (Leighton Meester), who used Serena’s absence to boost her status and move atop the social pyramid. From there, backstabbing, mind games lover-swapping and cheating ensue, and that’s only the pilot. Each episode rushes through plots like time is running out, constantly introducing new hearsay from the blog of the unidentified, totally plugged-in "Gossip Girl” (voiced by Kristen Bell, aka Veronica Mars). Schwartz and co-producer Stephanie Savage transplant a lot of the juicy drama that fed their California setting in The O.C. — battling rich kids, characters from the wrong side of the tracks, parents with actual lives and of course, a black-tie soiree every night — into upscale NYC and inject it with designer drugs, martinis and open trust funds. The characters all attend private school but hardly ever are academics noted; instead more focus is put on these privileged teens having drinks at the ritzy hotel or a posh bar, or hosting an illegal party at the school pool. Fittingly described in a featurette as a "modern day Marie Antoinette,” Gossip Girl is delicious TV that seems far removed from reality but is better because of it. Like The Hills, it’s simply skin-deep fluff that’s fun to live vicariously through and little else. As gangbuster as season one is, surprisingly it takes a major dive in the finale, losing its momentum in a lacklustre cliffhanger almost as if it needed the break. Where the series can go now without reusing too many of the relationships is tough to say but shows like GG aren’t meant to last — they’re meant to give us our quick fix and I definitely feel the need for more. The DVD extras offer little other than a look behind the scenes and some naff interviews discussing the casting and plotlines. A featurette on the couture is worthwhile for fans of its glamorous style but that’s about it. (Warner)