It’s no secret that Gossip Girl has gone downhill since its earlier seasons. In the beginning, the CW series was a fun, deliciously over the top teen soap about the social politics of bratty New Yorkers. Gossip Girl made no apologies for its extravagance. The show wasn’t about teaching its characters lessons or morals. It was about designer clothes, ridiculous parties, and who was having sex that episode, while also happening to introduce one couple that you actually cared about: Chuck and Blair.
Meanwhile, five years later, everyone has had sex with everyone in every non-incestuous (and sometimes a little incestuous) combination possible. Jenny and Vanessa have been kicked off the show, Bart died and came back to life, Blair found God and then ditched him again, Lily has two more divorces under her belt, and the entire world threw up their hands and begged the question: Why are we still watching this?
It’s not that Gossip Girl used to be a quality television program; it’s that the show used to keep its unrealistic tendencies to parties and teenaged relationships. One Tree Hill had a similar problem: once the kids are out of high school and you’re writing in the show’s fourth stalker, you have to face that fact that your show has gone downhill and you’re out of material. Chuck’s Who’s Your Mommy plotline has been going on for four seasons now. Stoner, lax-bro Nate is running a newspaper. Blair got married…to a prince. Does NO ONE go to school anymore? You’re all still supposedly enrolled!
No, the show and its content are ridiculous. And the only reason we were still watching there for a while was because of Chuck and Blair, the Carrie and Big for the next generation (and I realize that’s probably being way too generous). Sex in a limo, on again off again, on again, hotel trade off again, on again, near-death experience off again, maybe on again Chuck and Blair. You see the problem. Too much on again off again. Too much will they or won’t they (and when they inevitably won’t, what will the stupid reason be this time?). We were teased too much. We stopped caring. “Yes!” we screamed. “Break up! Stay apart! We don’t care!”
So what to do? Gossip Girl did the only thing it could: introduced us to an alternative that made us feel new things about Chuck and Blair. The unlikeliest of all couples, Dan and Blair.
Sure they’ve always hated each other. Sure the each represent everything that the other person is not. But over the course of a season, the show built up the realistic possibility of Dan and Blair, and then dangled that possibility just long enough that some of us (guilty) actually wanted it. The show gave us enough of a break from the headache that was Chuck and Blair that we could start to root for them again. There was real emotional pull from both sides! Real turmoil over who was better and what we wanted! Blair’s indecisiveness made sense for the first time in years!
All of those exclamation points add up to the fact that Chuck and Blair are interesting again. Maybe not as interesting as they were in season one, but definitely more than have ever been since. The Dan-Blair-Chuck play marks a return to
brilliance watchability for Gossip Girl. As this next season will probably be its last, that’s good news. We have 22 episodes to wrap up a great love story that does not need to be told anymore. It’s already been told about five times throughout the course of the show.