Before I get into the substance of this show I have two things to get off my chest – the first good, the second not so good. The good is obvious – it was great to hear Miss Veronica Mars herself doing the voiceover for the show. Even though I’m excited she’s going to be on Heroes this TV season won’t be the same without being able to watch VM. Now the not so good observation – aren’t there any good young actors they could have found to play the lead parts. I’ve been watching Degrassi: The Next Generation the last week or two starting at season 3 since it’s launch into syndication and it has lots of young talent who actually look like high school students. Looking back at Freaks & Geeks, now there’s a show that really not only captured high school but used actors who either were that age or pretty close. The lead actress on Gossip Girl who plays Serena looks an easy 25. (Update: Upon further investigation she’s actually only 20 but she doesn’t look like a high school girl). It definitely impacted my viewing experience.
Moving on to the review, Gossip Girl is the new show from OC creator Josh Schwartz and is based on a series of novels by Cicely von Ziegesar. (For a comparison between the books which I have no intention of reading and the show check out this article on Zap2it.) For me it definitely didn’t have the pull of the first episode or 2 of the OC which really drew me in from the get go. In a nutshell Gossip Girl is about rich private school kids living in NYC’s Upper West Side including some “mean girls” and stereotypical spoiled boys who think they own the world and everyone in it.
The show kicks off with the return of Serena, the former leader of the “mean girls” who left for more than a year to boarding school without a word to anyone. She’s back because her brother tried to kill himself and as is revealed over the episode she left after she slept with her best friend’s boyfriend. Meanwhile there’s a rich kid who drinks, smokes, tries to rape Serena and then when that fails moves on to some other young girl. The young girl’s brother, Dan, is a geek who was never noticed by Serena but had a crush on her and of course now that she’s back and somewhat of an outcast goes on a date with him. Just like the OC, the parents are also characters on the show including Serena’s mother and Dan’s father who seem to have had a past. As for Gossip Girl, she’s a never seen blogger reporting on the lives of these rich kids.
Although on paper this show sounds kind of fun in a 90210/ Dawson’s Creek/ OC kind of way, I was just sort of bored. It could be that I’m too old for this kind of show.. nope that’s not it. The truth is I just immensely disliked almost every character on the show. None of them had that Seth Cohen appeal or for that matter even Ryan appeal. The only one I really liked was best friend Blair. She had the Summer appeal. Beyond the unlikable characters, I also found the storylines to be pretty uninteresting. The reveal of why Serena left down was kind of silly and the storyline with Dan, Serena and his sister almost put me to sleep.
Now it may sound like I’m being a bit harsh on Gossip Girl for a first episode, and no question I am, but the role of the pilot is to convince you that the new show is must see TV and this didn’t. That being said I am going to give the show a few more episodes to grow on me. But for now…
Avi’s Episode Rating: C