Television Review: Gossip Girl - Pilot
by R.J. Carter
Published: September 7, 2007
Gossip Girl is The CW's newest entry into the scandalous teen-scene of the elite-in-training. They're the pretty people, the party people, the people you want to be -- and their comings and goings are all documented by the watchful and anonymous internet blogger, Gossip Girl. If you're anybody at all, your every move will be logged at this popular Website that feeds up-to-the-minute notifications to laptops and cellphones. If you're at a party and someone who's someone comes through the front door, expect a text within sixty seconds.
The pilot opens with the return of former party girl, Serena van der Woodsen (Blake Lively.) No sooner is she off the train than Gossip Girl (Kristen Bell) begins her narration, alerting her readership that Melanie91 has spotted Serena back in town. Where she went -- and, more importantly, why she went -- are mysteries to everyone, but when she went away she left her friends in the lurch.
Chief among her friends is Blair Waldorf (Leighton Meester.) Formerly Serena's BFF, their reunion is a shaky one. When your best friend takes off and doesn't tell you, it can make you question a lot of things. But when Blair gets the text from Gossip Girl that Serena is back, she knows one thing she has to do right away: cement, sexually, her relationship with her boyfriend Nate (Chace Crawford) before he also learns that the girl he's always pined for has returned.
Whatever kind of party girl Serena used to be, she seems to be much more grounded today. Her first concern upon returning home is the condition of her younger brother, Eric (Connor Paolo), who's currently hospitalized after a suicide attempt. Of course, these kinds of things don't happen to the upper crust, so Eric and Serena's mother, Lily (Kelly Rutherford), has kept the entire affair hushed up. As far as the world is concerned, Eric's visiting relatives.
And then there's Chuck (Ed Westwick) -- amoral, Oscar Wilde-esque Chuck, who's always out for a good time, even if it's not his. How Chuck has managed to stay out of prison is anyone's guess, since we see him walk the sidewalks openly smoking pot -- not to mention two separate attempted rapes in just this first episode.
Setting the counterpoint to all the glitterati of children drinking, smoking, and sexing -- not to mention being used as political and business pawns by their own parents! -- are the Humphreys. Jenny (Taylor Momsen) is a freshman at the school, and a ripe mark for Chuck to move in on. Older brother Dan (Penn Badgley) goes largely unnoticed in his new classes, choosing to adore Serena from afar. However, circumstances conspire to bring them both together, much to the chagrin of Lily, who has something of a history with the Humphrey's dad, minor rock star Rufus (Matthew Settle.)
I'm not in the right tax bracket to know if much of Gossip Girl is based in reality, or if it's all "it girl" fantasy. Veronica Mars fans who were excited to learn their star was moving over to a new series may be disappointed to find out they don't actually see her, as she narrates the scene segues from the perspective of Gossip Girl web alerts. In the pilot alone, there are plenty of betrayals, forbidden relationships, and mysterious intrigue to keep any young soap opera enthusiast engaged. But the only thing that makes this series unique from Melrose Place is the addition of the Website and the impact it has on the characters.
Gossip Girl premieres September 19 on The CW at 9:00pm, 8:00pm CST.
Read our complete look at the Fall TV season at Network Programming Falls Into Place for 2007/08 Television Viewing Season