Last year, I spent six weeks obsessively watching Gossip Girl, a TV show about upscale life in the Upper East Side of Manhattan. It was amazing. Prior to my discovery of this magical world, the show had ended its six-season run in 2012.
Now, I am re-watching it. Why, you must be asking, would I willingly spend my time watching a fictional TV show about a bunch of trust fund brats and their many (often illegal) escapades around New York? I have nothing in common with these characters, besides the fact that they and I are teenagers.
Their world is fantastical to me. As they float through high school and college, they spend their evenings drinking signature cocktails, and their spare time doing absolutely everything except homework. The show was designed around the concept of displaying the newest pop culture and fashions, so their wardrobes are complete with a new ensemble for every occasion. In my wildest dreams, I could never be a part of their world, even if I knew where to find the entrance.
And yet, I cannot tear myself away from their stories, even though I know exactly how it will end.
Dan Humphrey, one of the characters, is Lonely Boy, an outsider who worms his way into the inner circle of Blair Waldorf, Nate Archibald, and Chuck Bass, through his new girlfriend, Serena Van Der Woodsen. I should identify with him, always the observer to their extravagant lifestyle, allowed in but never accepted as one of their own. I don’t. In fact, I kind of really don’t like Dan. He is mopey and so focused on his “less-than” social standing that he neglects to recognize his own positive qualities.
Instead, I feel a kinship with Blair Waldorf, crown princess of the Upper East Side. She holds an incredibly vast amount of power, has impeccable taste in clothes, and the volition and ability to follow her dreams, wherever they might lead. Despite all of that, she has her fair share of problems. Not to give away any major plotlines, but like the rest of us normal people, Blair has an up and down relationship with her mother. She has a best friend on whom she relies heavily. The two of them gossip about boys, but they also stay up late into the night talking about the future, their aspirations for success, and how much they care about each other. (They totally pass the Bechdel test, by the way!) While they do get on each other’s nerves from time to time, Blair and Serena always come first in each other’s lives, and each woman will do anything for her best friend.
So, I guess I am rewatching Gossip Girl because it’s like an alternate universe where everything is exactly the same. The characters may be driven around in limos and jet across the world on a whim, but best friends are best friends, on the Upper East Side or right here in Newton, Massachusetts.