Gossip Girl: The Complete Second Season

Gossip Girl: The Complete Second Season
For all of its triviality, trite melodrama, incessant bed-hopping, plausibility issues and laugh-out-loud conveniences, there is something strangely, and embarrassingly, watchable and addictive about Gossip Girl, unlike other similar series, such as 90210 and The Hills, which instead prove repugnant. This slightly more dignified (but still trashy and insulting) veneer results partially from the superficial, with decent production values and an excellent use of New York as a character itself, along with pitch-perfect casting. It also works from a structural and cultural standpoint, with the template of an unseen website host and narrator known as Gossip Girl (Kristen Bell) involving the audience in all lascivious and insidious behaviour, as our constant need to watch and read about it is often the driving force behind it. Season two features drama and character arcs aplenty, focusing mainly on the complications that Ivy League college applications bring into the lives of these privileged upper-East Side New York teens. Blair (Leighton Meester) will stop at nothing to get into Yale, when not playing mind-games with season-long love interest Chuck Bass (Ed Westwick), whose propensity for drugs and loose women keeps the drama in their relationship heightened. Meanwhile, Serena (Blake Lively) finds romance with a gross artist, while Dan (Penn Badgley), her ex, struggles with his feelings for her and the possibility that they might share a sibling. Dan's home life is also put to the test when his little sister Jenny (Taylor Momsen) starves herself and tries to start her own fashion line, and his ex-grunge rock star dad (Matthew Settle) acts on his feelings for Serena's mom (Kelly Rutherford). Truth be told, most of the histrionics prove laughable, care of Ed Westwick's squinty, breathy James Dean portrayal and occasional confusion about who is sleeping with who at any given moment, but this campiness is more or less the entire point. When an unlikelihood has come about, such as Dan's random affair with a teacher, we laugh, rather than getting upset by moronic character decisions and inconsistencies. Included with the seven-disc box set are multiple unaired scenes and a lengthy gag reel, in addition to a mini-supplement about the designers behind the fashion. The many sets and locations are discussed as well through the template of an interactive map, which is quite clever. Amusingly, mini-episodes about Blair's maid Dorota reveal her as a Polish countess with a love triangle of her own. What? (Warner)