Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Gossip Girl, episode 2.1 - "Summer, Kind of Wonderful"

I was writing about One Tree Hill in another context, and I described watching the show six seasons in as being similar to having a conversation with a very good-looking mental patient - you know it doesn't make any sense, but you can't look away. Gossip Girl aired its second season premiere last night, and is the superior show if only because it's funnier. But that's not what you really want to know, is it?

Are we going to still care about Dan, Serena, Blair, Chuck, etc. now that they're not the bright young things? The answer is: yes, at least for a time. Last season's finale found Dan and Serena parting ways, with regular guy Dan unable to deal with Serena's partying past. The easy out would have been for Serena to return to the social scene, but last night's episode turned that idea on its head. Serena is enjoying a summer in the Hamptons but hasn't gotten over Dan; she's even turning down hookups with hot lifeguards. ("Did someone order a townie?" Blair asks when the lifeguard finally pulls up in a "non-ironic" Camaro) In order to save face, she's pretending to date Nate while he enjoys a fling with the older, married, and still flingable Madchen Amick. Dan has gotten a summer internship with a novelist played by Jay McInerney (no actor he) and turned it into an opportunity for flings of his own with assorted Manhattan fiction groupies. As carefree as Dan may seem, we know he can't be over Serena - his inability to finish a story about her costs him his gig with the writer. Dan's attempts to cover his feelings with bluster could, if carried through, have provided some worthy obstacles to a reunion with Serena. But by the end of the episode they're back in each others' arms, Dan having even won over Serena's grandmother.

Most of the Blair/Chuck scenes involve Blair's attempts to make Chuck jealous with her new man, for whom she cares little until it's revealed he's a (gasp!) British lord (Patrick Heusinger). "British" here is code for "even more socially obsessed that Americans," which is enough to drive Blair into a fit. More is promised on this front next week, so stay tuned. Chuck's heartbroken "I'll see you at school" kiss-off to Blair was affecting though. Damn you Ed Westwick! As for the entirely too nice Jenny, she seems to belong in a different show - perhaps one created by the Secret Life of the American Teenager lady.

I dashed off this recap in response to a request from our fearless leader, so I don't know if GG will be my regular gig this year. I do plan to continue to beat the drum for NBC's Life, which I covered last season, and perhaps deal with Lipstick Jungle as well.