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What Gossip Girl Has Taught Me. (Updated)

When I post Clicker updates as to what I'm watching, the ones that get the most snide replies from my Facebook friends are those relating to Gossip Girl, the soapy teen series following the lives and trials of vapid Upper East Side trust fund brats in expensive clothes. While I never watched much, if any, Beverly Hills 90210 or Melrose Place (either back in the day or their recent incarnation) and didn't really show much interest in the show for the same reasons, I blind-bought the first two seasons on DVD during Black Friday 2009 because they were cheap - only $13 apiece.

They sat unwatched for months and my girlfriend sneered at my purchases the same way she did when I started buying Buffy the Vampire Slayer seasons. Finally, we ran out of ways to avoid watching them and started in with her grousing about why we're watching this, but as she'd done then, she rapidly became hooked on these twits (mis)adventures and when we finished the 2nd season, she became agitated over the fact we didn't have the 3rd on hand and there were no good deals around until after Christmas.

While we've been having a lot of fun with the show - other than the fact that Serena is a simpy twit who was only hot during the couple of episodes where she was bitchy to Blair at Yale - but some tropes have become unavoidable, thus requiring comment:
  • The drinking age for rich kids in NYC appears to be 14. In pretty much every episode, everyone but the poor Humphrey ragamuffins is shown guzzling cocktails, sometimes at home (where their folks, if they happen to be around, never suggest having cocoa or a Pepsi), but frequently at bars, clubs, restaurants, etc. When Lindsay Lohan was blowing up as the star of Mean Girls and promptly started on her downward spiral, over and over she was spotted drinking in clubs under the legal age of 21 and I wondered who wasn't watching out for this. I'm always hearing about Detroit bars getting busted for serving underage customers, but in Gossip Girl's Gotham, membership in the upper class appears to have its privileges.

    UPDATE: In episode 3.7, Chuck's bar was shut down for having a fake liquor license. The cops came and grabbed the booze and shooed the patrons out the door. They didn't seem to notice all the sub-legal kids in the bar. This didn't happen when Rudy ran things!
  • No one owns an iPhone. This is the real headscratcher for me. The iPhone came out in June 2007 and as of the 3rd season - we're watching on DVD and are a year behind - which began airing in Fall 2009, no one is using one. Apple has sold approximately eleventy gazillion units - they're so ubiquitous that almost anyone who wants one has one, no one is impressed by them anymore and it carries about as much cachet as saying you watch American Idol - but on the Upper East Side, the kids who take limos everywhere, wear expensive designer fashions and basically want for nothing are still using feature phones, some with T9 keyboards. What the hell?!? The producers slave to create this fantasy universe of privilege and then have people boarding private jets to Europe making calls on phones you get for free with a service contract. This year Blair got a Blackberry, which puts her on the cutting edge. Of 2007. I haven't noticed a pattern of models that would indicate a reality-destroying product placement deal, but something's wrong.

    UPDATE: In recent S4 episodes, there has been some really obvious Microsoft product placement in the form of people using Bing to search for things, WinMo phones, and laptops with monochrome Windows logos where the Dell or HP logo would be. (M$ doesn't make a branded computer in North America like this.) Still no sign of an iPhone with 2 episodes left, meaning that as of May 2011, the iPhone still hasn't taken Manhattan in any of its four guises.

    UPDATE #2: The iPhone finally arrived in Season 5! It was a little coy early in the season, but as of Spring 2012, the poor little rich kids of the Upper East Side are now current. With a couple of years ago.
  • Money fixes everything. Self-explanatory. The greatest crime on the show, as in real life, is to be poor and the Golden Rule (i.e. he who has the gold makes the rules) is in full effect. Nate's family stories really put this across, but over and over, all trouble is swept aside with a spray of the money hose. Someone drown and a student needs expulsion from the school? How about a new library donation? (I wonder if this private academy looks at their upgrade wish list and then seeks out problem children to pimp for donations from concerned parents.)
  • Never tell an easy truth when you can tell a hard lie that will always backfire on you. Over and over and over and OVER, these twits choose to baldly lie about EVERYTHING to each other. After the inevitable being caught out, the lied-to frowns and makes noises about never being able to trust the liar again, but they move on and rinse and repeat the same credibility-shredding behavior, over and over and OVER. When will they learn that everyone would be cool with whatever if you told the truth in the first place?

    Over time, we started noticing a corollary to this rule...
  • When falsely accused of wrongdoing, never speak up in your own defense. If someone came up and accused you of doing something that could cost you your education, job or the trust of your friends, would you deny it and call out the slanderer or meekly act guilty and slink away. Maybe you'll eventually be exonerated, but in the meantime the damage will be done. What would you do? If you said, "Defend myself," then you're not on this show! Vanessa and Serena have both taken major hits in S4 because of this nonsense.
  • You are supposed to follow your destiny at all costs until the writers suddenly forget all about it. This is specific to Baby J, but also applies to the other Humphrey boy. Jenny has been set up as a Brilliant Fashion Designer for the better part of two seasons. First as making stylish school clothes, Pretty In Pink style, then as an intern for Eleanor Waldorf's fashion house, saving the day with her great style acumen. She then quits and sets off on her own with a crazy model friend, ultimately staging a guerrilla fashion show that made her the toast of the town with people begging to put out her designs. Even her killjoy fuddy-duddy father allowed her to basically drop out of school to pursue this break until...well, nothing. Suddenly, she was back at Constance, playing the mean girl reindeer games and not a peep about her success was heard. Last night, we watched episode 3.8 and she appeared to throw away her precious sewing machine. WTFF?!? It doesn't help that Taylor Momsen got taller and skinnier over the hiatus, but now she looks like a junkie skank and is acting like a beyatch. Again, WTFF, writers?!?
I'll be adding to this post as more lessons reveal themselves. Feel free to chime in on the comments with suggestions as to what lessons we may have missed.


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