Spoiler alert: in this blog post I will attempt to recreate from memory the plot of the first episode of the first season of “Best. Show. Ever” (New York Magazine’s words, not mine) Gossip Girl, which aired ten years ago to the day on September 19, 2007 on the CW. So if you do not want to know what (might have?) happened in that episode, please find a blog more suitable to your interests. xoxoxo
We open with Kristen Bell’s voice and possibly the words “wakey wakey, Upper East Side,” or some variant, and music from an early aughts indie band gently whistling, playing an acoustic guitar delicately, wailing suddenly in ecstasy, or all three.
We are introduced to the core cast of characters via their obsession with one particular character, Serena van der Woodsen, who has just returned from boarding school under mysterious, and therefore suspect, circumstances. There is a dramatic scene in which fellow classmate Dan Humphrey sees Serena getting off the train from boarding school at Grand Central (he and his sister Jenny have been visiting their recently divorced mom and are returning home to their recently divorced dad). He is obsessed with Serena too, but in a more tender way than the others. At his Upper East Side prep school Dan is known only as “Lonely Boy” because the show asks us to simply accept that a brilliant and funny young man with incredible bone structure whose family lives in a Brooklyn loft that may be even more attractive than he is would be ostracized from a student body obsessed with real estate and physical beauty.
We also meet Blair Waldorf, the best character, who’s jealous of Serena, her supposed best friend, because her boyfriend, Nate Archibald, has a crush on her. Serena shows up unexpectedly at a party Blair’s mother is throwing—I forget if there’s a reason, I think it’s just cause she’s a fashion designer?—and the two participate in a strained hug. The tension intimated by that hug will never truly be resolved. Serena and Nate exchange furtive, flirty glances. Nate’s best friend Chuck Bass, an unfairly hot and somewhat reformable sexual predator, is also at that party, probably wearing an ugly scarf, and casually stroking a couple of female classmates, and smoking weed.
I might be skipping stuff and conflating episodes, but for the sake of powering through…. We next find Serena at a bar in a hotel owned by Chuck’s dad. She is drinking heavily. Chuck kisses and touches Serena against her will in the hotel bar’s kitchen under the pretense of offering her a grilled cheese sandwich with truffles in it. The scene ends when Serena kicks him in the balls and runs away.
Now I am realizing this was a bit of a fool’s errand cause a lot about this episode is coming back to me in the course of writing this—really, it was quite an intricate and well-thought-out premiere!—and I’ve probably only made it through, like, the first fifteen minutes. And now I want to go to sleep, sorry. I didn’t even get to the crazy layering of seemingly random circumstances that led to Dan and Serena’s first date, or Chuck’s second sexual predation, and definitely not to the wedding sex either. But it’s great, take my word for it. Like walking around Soho on a beautiful night listening to indie rock, only everything mentioned in those songs is actually happening to you that very moment too.
The show is about the power of blogging, only to be outdone by the power of money.