Thursday, September 27, 2007

"Oh, exactly what this situation needs – Chuck!": Gossip Girl

Now that’s more like it.

After a pilot that was uncomfortably serious in tone, episode two (“The Wild Brunch”) proves that there might just be life in this show after all with an installment full of threesomes, cattiness, secret reveals, social climbing and manipulation, with a fun dash of humor thrown in to make everything go down more smoothly. Also, someone got in a fight in the middle of a fancy party, which always makes everything better. Just ask Ryan Atwood!

Perhaps this episode felt improved because it was familiar, as it really seemed like an episode of The O.C.: Manhattan Edition. It’s the day after the “Kiss on the Lips Party” (again, yeah) and it’s time for the next party of the season – the Bart Bass brunch, thrown by Chuck’s father. Despite both Serena and Blair’s best efforts to the contrary, everyone ends up at the brunch together, with Serena bringing Dan as her date. Both Serena and Blair are pretty unhappy to see each other there, especially now that the cat is out of the bag regarding Serena and Nate’s affair. Nate, because he is an idiot, decides he must talk to Serena right away in Chuck’s suite and sends her up there with a key. Chuck, because he is deliciously evil, decides to encourage Blair to be deflowered by Nate in the middle of the brunch up in Chuck’s room. Blair drags Nate up to the suite and they of course run right into Serena waiting on Nate. Nate is seriously very dumb for even allowing he and Blair to enter that suite knowing Serena will already be there, so he deserves everything that comes to him.

Blair decides to exact a little revenge on Serena by going directly downstairs and blabbing to Dan about Serena and Nate’s little tryst. It’s a fun, fast paced scene that ends with Dan and Chuck in a fight and Dan walking out on the whole upper crust life for good. Serena tries to tell Dan she’s changed, but just like a stupid judgmental teenage good boy he washes his hands of her completely. Yeah, we’ll see how long that lasts. Meanwhile, his crafty sister Jenny is busy becoming a mini-Blair, completely allowing herself to be manipulated and used to become a part of Blair's inner social circle. Delicious.

With all of the exposition out of the way in the pilot, Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage were free to explore their characters a little further in this one and pick up all of the storylines they introduced in episode one and run with them. While they still have a ways to go, there definitely appears to be a solid foundation to work with. Blair is a load of catty fun, and Leighton Meester is obviously relishing her role as the troubled bitch. Serena showed a little bit of who she used to be in her nasty fight with Blair at the brunch, and it was nice to see Blake Lively with a little bit of fire in her veins. Jenny has become surprisingly interesting, and her desire to still want to be part of the upper crust despite now knowing what it’s really about (RAPE) should be an good struggle to watch unfold. Dan showed a nasty judgmental side (reminding me of none other than the detestable Dawson Leery) when he shunned Serena after learning of her affair with Nate, but still has potential to be three dimensional and not hateable in the future. Chuck doesn’t need to be three dimensional, because he’s pretty much designed to be a fun caricature and nothing more and I love every second of it.

Nate, however, is the only real trouble spot so far in the younger set. He’s a stock character (rich boy who wants out from under his father's thumb but feels trapped) with no discernible personality and portrayed by an actor with little to no charisma. His plight to decide between his love for Serena and his desire to please his father and stay with Blair is obviously going to be a central element to the series, and so far it’s just not working. He sort of just looks bored all of the time. If I'm going to get invested with him, something interesting needs to happen, and fast.

As for the parental shenanigans, does anyone even care? These adults are no Sandy and Kiki, and especially no Julie Cooper – that’s for sure. I wouldn’t mind if they just sort of dropped off completely a la One Tree Hill. Especially since one of them is a former rock star named Rufus. Ick. Also, the voiceover was not nearly as bad as the pilot, but it still feels completely unnecessary. I'm all for Kristen Bell picking up an easy paycheck, though.

Next week: more high school power struggles, even more parties, and more Chuck! I kind of can’t wait.


David Sims said...

I'm totally with you Carrie. Even though I liked the pilot a lot more than you did, this was even more fun. I know what you mean about Nate, but there's even potential for him to be a decent character if he lightens up a little bit.

I just love all this political corridors of power stuff going on among these sixteen-year-olds. It's so funny. And catty. And I really liked the younger sister. And even though Dan ditching Serena was totally stupid I really like him otherwise. He's like a mix of badass rebel Ryan and outsider nerd Seth, but without the ridiculous extremes those two could go to.

Anyway, let's hope it doesn't tank too hard in the ratings, cause I'm lovin' it!

Justin said...

I liked this episode much more than the first as well.

I mean I do not watch shows like this because I take things seriously; I want to laugh at people. It was a lot easier the second time around.

There is some specific character on some show that Chuck really reminds me of that I can't think of right now ... maybe it is because it is like 20 characters and my brain is scrambling.

Bianca Reagan said...

As for the parental shenanigans, does anyone even care?...I wouldn’t mind if they just sort of dropped off completely a la One Tree Hill.

I hear that.

Dan showed a nasty judgmental side (reminding me of none other than the detestable Dawson Leery) when he shunned Serena after learning of her affair with Nate, but still has potential to be three dimensional and not hateable in the future.

This part was so lame because I was crushing hard on Dan/Penn. Ironically, I couldn't stand Dan in the books. Don't be Dawson, Dan.

I didn't like the second half of this episode. It felt like a misadventurous Shakespeare play with all the oopsidaisical run-ins, but with none of the significance. Somehow the second episode made the fluffy books look like epic prose in comparison.

I know I keep saying, "the book, the book, the book." But even outside of the book, we could compare in to Dawson's or Felicity, and at least something was going on in those shows besides who one of the characters slept with a year ago. Don't these people have school? After all, it is their senior year (except for Jenny. I'm so hoping for a spin-off show based on Jenny's It Girl books. Watch out, Young Americans. Boarding school cheese is back, y'all). Shouldn't they be worried about getting into college? And when are Vanessa and Blair's stepbrother coming to town?