Posts Tagged ‘Dan Humphrey’

Gossip Girl

November 12, 2008

gossip girl

Having just returned from the Americas, I’ve already seen most of ‘Season’ 2 of Gossip Girl.


In your FACE.

For those who’ve never had this rubbish darkening their TV screens, it’s essentially the OC, but this time set in New York. If you never saw the OC (and if that’s the case, I compliment you on your ignorance), that was a show about a supposedly rough kid from The Wrong Side Of The Tracks being forced by circumstances beyond his control to go and live with some rich, posh folks in Orange County. The idea was that drama would arise when a brute with common sense mixed with hedonistic but mannered sophisticates who have bagel toasters in their kitchens and jacuzzis in their bogs.

It didn’t work at all, in execution, as Ryan (the common brute) looked and acted exactly the same as all the other cast, was clearly at home in the plush environs of the super-rich and was indistinguishable from those he was meant to jar against.

It was crap – but for some reason, girls loved it. ‘Enjoyable trash’ is how my better half described it.

Gossip Girl has the same set up, but this time a family of poor people move to New York and, for reasons I haven’t worked out, are forced to mingle with the super-rich. And again the poor family look rich beyond any reasonable doubt. Their appartment is an enormous loft space, they eat huge family meals, Dad used to be a rock star, the young sister is always dressed to the nines and the older brother… well, he deserves his own paragraph. In fact – let’s look at the key players in turn.

Penn Badgely – I’m not making this up – plays Dan Humphrey, the older brother in this apparently poverty-stricken family. He’s the most annoying character currently on TV. He’s an extreme version of Dawson from Dawson’s Creek in that we’re supposed to believe he’s an intellectual because he talks in sentences that don’t seem to end, filled with pseudo-psychological asides and one-liners that you couldn’t possibly come up with spontaneously. Even more infuritatingly, out of nowhere and with no experience, in one episode he found himself writing an article for the New York Times. Because those kinds of experiences just materialise out of nowhere in this fantasy-land. But – to be fair – we know he’s an intellectual before he even opens his mouth because his bookcase is stuffed with books. Books and a smart mouth. It all adds up. Give the lad an article at the NYT!

Chace Crawford – ‘Chace’?! – plays Nate Archibald, a faceless, asexual, blank-canvas of a life-form. His character… is characterless. He generally walks around trying to look moody but ultimately just appears to be in the wrong studio. Opening a door requires deep concentration for this berk.

Leighton Meester – (‘Meester’ being Spanish for ‘Mr’, fact fans) – plays Blair Waldorf. Like the salad. Made of celery, apples, walnuts and grapes, Blair is incredibly good looking and I’ll not have a word said against her.

Blake Lively – and now their real names are starting to freak me out – plays Serena van der Woodsen. I think Serena is meant to be the female lead but the actress who plays her is so anonymous it’s hard to tell. She’s a shrug of a woman. Add to this she looks a good decade older than the other cast members who’re meant to be her age group and she just doesn’t fit in. She’s meant to have lived a wild-and-crazy lifestyle before going dry, so perhaps this accounts for the fact she looks about 43.

Ed Westwick – at last a believable real name – plays Chuck Bass. The only character with any charisma, apart from Blair, Chuck is meant to be a sneaky, slimy sleaze who lives for high times and rutting. He even smokes weed, which for a mainstream show like this means he’s a right royal rebel. In episode one of the first series, Chuck appeared to be attempting to rape someone, but the scriptwriters have happily forgotten about this and now he’s a sympathetic character. Being the better performer of the bunch, he’s obviously going to be played by a British actor – and that makes me glow with pride. I like the way he achieves the smooth-snake look by walking around with his left hand permanently in his left pocket. It’s a clever acting trick used by real actors.

And that’s the main cast list. Any other characters are peripheral and only really there to set up a weekly plot.

The one character I’ve missed off, however, is the one the show’s named after. The eponymous Gossip Girl acts as the continual thread that strands the show together. She’s the supposed keeper of a blog which details the exploits of these movers and shakers, updated with salacious titbits about their actions and photos of them necking.

The problem is, though it might have seemed a good idea at the time, it doesn’t work at all. They’ve tried to copy the Desperate Housewives idea of having someone on the outside looking in and come up short. The Gossip Girl voiceover only acts as a distraction and when it’s not a distraction, it’s a massive annoyance with its affected witticisms and hugely cloying ‘lolspeak’ sign off – ‘you know you love me! X O X O’.

So here’s what they need to do to improve this show if it ever gets a third series.

  • Cut the voiceover.
  • Axe the crappy blog-structure artifice.
  • Get rid of the old woman.
  • Have the pseudo-intellectual Dan horribly maimed onscreen.
  • Have Nate do magic tricks.
  • Turn Chuck into a Roger Moore type smoothie (with an English accent) who always ends up getting it on with Blair at the end. 
  • Make it so that Blair is contractually obliged to be fully naked for half the show’s running time. 
  • Make her do a hula hoop over the end credits.

Only THEN will this show rise above plastic mediocrity.