Mean girls

Digging the Gossip
October 1, 2007 5:34:10 PM

VIDEO: A preview of the CW's Gossip Girl

Josh Schwartz loves filming scenes where his simpático underdog punches a nasty and absurdly rich Yeah Dude in the face. Really, who doesn’t love a good, stereotypical boy fight? Here’s what else Schwartz likes to do: cast unbearably sexy brunette actresses with mean streaks, blonde co-stars who look old enough to be moms, blonde moms who dress young enough to be their daughters’ sister, and “outcast” guy-next-door types who are hotter than the token “hottie”; portray underage drinking and drug abuse; throw in at least one verbal-cum-emotional bitch slap per episode. In fact, Schwartz makes many of the same choices on Gossip Girl (CW, Wednesday at 9 pm) that he did on his first hit show, The O.C., which completed its four-season run last February. Gossip Girl is The O.C. reborn, except we’re chilling with the untouchables of Manhattan instead of Orange County.

At least now I have an inkling of what Marissa Cooper would be like if she were an Upper East Side WASP instead of a beach babe. Her name would be Serena van der Woodsen, the most-talked-about subject of an on-line socialite blog, Gossip Girl. It’s the Gossip Girl who’s telling this story (voiceover narration . . . by Kristen Bell!): the anonymous editrix on the inside who sees all, knows all, and tells all. Two weeks ago, we met Serena (freshly exported back to the city from a Connecticut boarding school) and her best friend, Blair (a bitchy Summer Roberts look-alike). Serena got her slam on with Blair’s boyfriend, Nate, which is why she ran away from NYC in the first place. Assorted other members of their elite prep-school gang surface and start making power plays, including Chuck, the disgustingly wealthy slimeball. Plot lines collide when Dan Humphrey (the nü Seth Cohen) enters as Serena’s puppy-doggish love interest and Dan’s sister Jenny does her best to assert herself as Blair’s little protégée.

Last week’s follow-up to the premiere episode, free of the limitations of character set-ups, took the scandal-o-meter up about 50 notches. The following happened around or before noon during a nice Sunday brunch: Blair smilingly informed Serena that she is a backstabbing whore witch; Serena apologized and it just made her look older; Blair tried to lose her virginity to Nate in Chuck’s hotel room; Dan shoved Chuck — hard!; Dan found out that Serena’s mother was slutting it up with someone else’s dad; Dan got it into his thick but handsome skull that Serena is kind of a ho’, just as everyone was saying in the first place. Poor Dan. Too bad he doesn’t do as cute a Seth Cohen impression as Adam Brody. Probably because, uh, he’s way too beefy to play a convincing Seth Cohen. But maybe he can date Rachel Bilson now? Perhaps she’ll guest-star next Wednesday.

Gossip Girl is actually based on a bestselling YA book series by Cecily von Ziegesar, who in turn based the fictional private school her characters attend on the all-girls Hewitt School in Manhattan. And when New York Times culture writer Ruth La Ferla recently interviewed a few select students from Hewitt for a story timed to the premiere of Gossip Girl, they told all too. The crazy plot lines of both the books and the television program, according to one young lady, is “not just a fantasy,” and “when you are in that life, it seems so crazy to you that you sometimes tell yourself, ‘This can’t be real.’ ” Oh, but it is! So real, in fact, that last week, a tipster reported to Gawker that the girls who spilled it to the Times are being “hated on” by their entire school for airing their collective dirty laundry. Kind of like what Blair will do to Serena next Wednesday. Life imitating fiction imitating life. Was social suicide always this meta?


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