on June 25, 2009
That is something that the second half of the season failed miserably at maintaining. Story arcs started and ended abruptly and were hard to keep up with or even understand. The first half of the season was definitely solid. I would even dare say that episodes 1-14 were better than all of season one with episodes like "Summer Kind of Wonderful", "The Dark Night", "Pret-A-Poor J", "Oh Brother Where Bart Thou" and "In the Realm of The Basses".
As a devoted fan of Gossip Girl I have to say that the dynamic duo Chuck and Blair played by the AMAZING British actor Ed Westwick and Leighton Meester were the downfall and the salvation of the show. Westwick and Meester's on-screen chemistry is so tangible you can cut it with a knife. They are very powerful actors separately but when they are together it is explosive. Westwick and Meester basically carry the show on their shoulders throughout the whole season. Chuck and Blair is what makes you want to continue to watch but the writers and producers persistent narcissistic tendency to keep them apart is what ruined the second half of the season. It almost seems like you are watching a different show when you get to episode 2.21. By this moment in the season most if not all of the characters are written completely out of character and their behaviors are erratic and hard to understand all for the sake of an "OMFG Moment".
I continued to watch until the end because I am a masochist and will probably watch season 3 as well. But I was very disappointed with the second half of the season. I purchased the DVD just because the first half of the season was great and I can't buy it separately.
I'm probably going to be in a minority here, but more and more I became unhappy with GOSSIP GIRL in its second season. It isn't the characters. The show has a nice ensemble cast, nearly all of them nicely acted by the performers portraying them.
To explain why I have been increasingly discontent with the show, I need to call attention to one of the reasons I have enjoyed Josh Schwartz's two other shows. Both THE O.C. and CHUCK are character based serials. Both tell stories about how characters change and evolve over multiple episodes. For instance, a conflict between Summer and Seth on THE O.C. might develop and get resolved over a 14 or 15 episode arc. Story arcs for any of the major characters would extend over whole seasons. Much the same is true with CHUCK. The friendship between Chuck and Casey, for instance, took pretty much two full seasons to develop.
Now, contrast this with GOSSIP GIRL. More and more GOSSIP GIRL has become a show for viewers with attention deficit disorder. My guess is that the main inspiration for the increasingly shorter and shorter story arcs is the CW. This isn't the kind of change in a show that producers like to make. I blame the CW. Basically networks hate story arcs. They absolutely abhor shows have complex story arcs that extend over 7 or 8 or 9 episodes. This tension has been a part of prime time television ever since HILL STREET BLUES popularized story arcs on American television. But the network decreed that there could be only six separate arcs at a time, that preferably no arc would extend beyond six weeks, and at least one arc would be resolve each week.
Dedicated fans of shows generally love story arcs. Shows like BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, ANGEL, FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, LOST, BREAKING BAD, TRUE BLOOD, DOLLHOUSE, THE GILMORE GIRLS, VERONICA MARS, and BATTLESTAR GALACTICA get fanatical fans in large part because of the complexity of the stories. Networks hate the complex arcs because while the stories are thrilling for the ongoing fans, potential new fans can find the complexity of the stories too intimidating. The pattern for most such shows is a general loss of viewership as the shows go along. If you didn't get into LOST at the beginning, it is tough to jump in later.
Along the way -- that is, between 1981 and the present -- TV developed some alternatives that for casual TV viewers are ideals, but that for serious TV viewers felt regressive. The network that has almost completely embraced these alternative is CBS, which is almost fully committed to procedurals, whether medical, legal, or criminal. These shows do not have arcs. Each episode tells a self-contained story. All the conflict introduced in each episode is resolved in that episode. There is no character development. In a way, nothing ever happens on those shows. Jerry Orbach's character on LAW AND ORDER was the same on the last day of his very, very, very long run on the show as on the very first day.
Which brings us to GOSSIP GIRL. Season One of GOSSIP GIRL more or less focused on long story arcs. Dan and Serena's relationship developed over much of the season. Blair and Nate's relationship ended very, very slowly and her relationship with Chuck developed even more slowly. This made for good TV and for very satisfying viewing.
Season Two of GOSSIP GIRL, however, almost completely abandoned the long story arc. What would have been major romantic arcs in Season One were completed in two or three episodes. We frequently saw a character meet a new romantic interest, have that relationship dealt with in a couple of episodes, and then ended. If you take any character on the show and map their story over the course of the year, they went through a large number of changes. The pace of the show was dizzying. And increasingly unsatisfying. The show repeatedly proved that more is sometimes less.
By the end of Season Two, I was on the fence about whether to continue watching it. I still am. By the end of Season Two I was so irritated by what I knew was going to be merely a two or three episode arc that I could barely make myself watch it. The show became trivial. If something happened between Nate and Blair, you knew that two more episodes might see a complete reversal. Any relationship between any two characters was rendered almost meaningless. I knew that nothing that happened on the show would hold true for more than a couple of episodes. Contrast this with Seth and Summer's relationship on THE O.C. One reason that it was compelling was that while they went through their ups and downs, they managed to stick together for several years.
Is there any hope for GOSSIP GIRL? I'm doubtful at this point. Although the ratings for the show were atrocious, it scored high in the demographic that the CW is targeting as its main viewer base: young girls. But more and more it ceased being a show that could also appeal to adults. The WB build much of its base on shows that appealed both to teens and adults, shows like BUFFY, THE GILMORE GIRLS, and FELICITY. But if it continues to avoid long story arcs, the viewership for GOSSIP GIRL is going to be increasingly that of people who only like very short story arcs. I'm not optimistic. This is too bad, because they have some good, likable characters. I would like to be given stories concerning them about which I could be interested.
on September 19, 2010
I love coming-of-age series, movies, plays and books, so Gossip Girl is right up my alley. If you like drama and teen-focused coming-of-age stories, then you will probably also like Gossip Girl.
on July 27, 2009
As a 30-year-old, I sometimes feel a bit ashamed to admit that I'm an avid Gossip Girl fan. Check out this DVD and you may soon share my secret shame :). Although it's a show about teens, it's alternately catty, funny, heartbreaking, and clever, and always entertaining. The actors may be young, but they know their stuff, and the writing is smart enough to make this interesting enough for those of us who are way past high school. If you're looking for pure, engrossing entertainment, check out this show (and the first season)!
on April 9, 2010
I had never seen an episode of this show but I decided to buy Seasons 1 and 2 of Gossip Girl since they were so cheap on Amazon.com. Now, I am hooked! I love the characters, the storylines, the music, the city and the fashion. Can't wait for Season 3 to come out on DVD!
on December 30, 2012
While GG's second season is filled with scandal, secrets, and surprises at every turn -- in some ways it loses some of the spark and originality that the first season embodied so effortlessly. The on again/off again romances between several couples on the show become redundant and tiresome. And new love interests are brought in for the main characters far too frequently. These new love interests are cast out just as quickly as they're brought in. They don't stay long enough to make an impression, nor does the viewer actually care about their relationships with the main characters. That may be my biggest quarrel with season 2. Relationships start and stop too abruptly; at the drop of a dime -- making most relationships on the show seem meaningless.
However, season 2 brings us some memorable moments as well. We witness the death of a legendary character and the baring it has on the other characters. Several characters undergo significant growth and development as well; namely Blair, Jenny, Chuck, and Lily. There are defining moments and big reveals that may keep you guessing and wondering what will happen next. Season 2 nears the end of the high school era for our characters as well. They wrap up their senior year and prepare for college. And we journey with the characters as they experience those memorable high school milestones; college visits, prom, graduation -- but they experience them with a scandalous Upper East Side twist.
All in all, season 2 is solid and certainly worth the watch. While it may be repetitive at times, and lack the excitement and imagination of season 1, the second season has some memorable moments and manages to be just entertaining enough to keep the viewer interested.
on September 1, 2009
Season 2 was better than Season 1. Substantially better. With this having been said, I believe that the series isn't living up to its potential.
The fictional couple of Blair and Chuck is the most intriguing teenage couple that I have seen on television since the cast of "My So Called Life" years ago. The two of them chew up the scenery and make other pairings (Dan and Serena, for example) look pretty vanilla in comparision.
With that having been said, the Season could have been better.
We learn that Nate Archibald is the scion of political royalty in New York. Despite the disgrace that befell his father, Nate's grandfather is pushing him toward becoming a power player. With his looks, charms and pedigree, the grandfather believes that Nate could be a political and social juggernaut -- and he's probably right. The grandfather initially see Blair as an ally who can help him further his plans for Nate. So much could have been done with this plot and it simply wasn't; and this was truly a shame!
This was the show's chance to really dig into the social pressure that come from powerful parents' expectations of their children and the romantic and platonic relationship sacrifices that come with these sometimes crushing expectations. Instead, the writers reduces this conflict to Nate deciding between going to Yale (where connection guaranteed his admission) and NYU (in which Nate got into on his own merit). How trivial!
Gossip Girl has the potential to be as big as the original Beverly Hills 90210, but it has to have the courage to allow its best characters to shine and to really take a deeper approach to showcasing the challenges its cast faces. -- "You know you love me. X0 X0"