“Gossip Girl,” which concluded its six-season run on The CW on Monday (December 17) night, was never a great show. I’m not sure if it ever was a particularly good show. But for much of its 121 episode run, it was a stylish, entertaining guilty pleasure that offered enough moments of cleverness to compensate for (but never excuse) some astonishingly icky sexual politics.
Titled “New York, I Love You XOXO,” Monday’s finale mostly steered away from the key plotlines in what has been a largely dismal concluding season.
Dreadful relationships were discarded or severed or ignored. Twisty revenge schemes were deemed irrelevant or accelerated or ignored. And romantic stumbling blocks were removed with characteristic gracelessness or ignored.
The result? An mostly amusing finale that answered a few questions, tied up arcs in neat bows and featured enough cameos and guest stars to please and distract and placate most fans.
Did they finally give Chuck Bass a monkey?
But other than that, I guess I got what I wanted out of the “Gossip Girl” finale, namely a free Monday hour on my DVR and the identity of the enigmatic Gossip Girl.
Click through for some brief thoughts on the “Gossip Girl” finale. I don’t write about this show very often, but I’ve never missed an episode, so I might as well say farewell… With spoilers, duh.
OK. Let’s get this out of the way.
The identity of Gossip Girl is…
If you’re a Firewall & Iceberg Podcast listener, you know that Alan Sepinwall made the correct call this afternoon. Sepinwall’s very reasonable rationale behind his prediction: Dan Humphrey is the name of a character on “Gossip Girl.”
And he was correct.
I’m certain that there are some wrinkles in the Dan-as-Gossip-Girl timeline, wrinkles that I can’t identify as a regular-but-not-encyclopedic “Gossip Girl” fan.
The show traced Dan’s origins as Gossip Girl back to his first real interactions with Serena and explained that the legendary blog was borne of his desire to become a part of the upper crust world, a world he was able to write himself into when she got off the train in what was the series pilot, calling himself “Lonely Boy.” [You will know that I am the author of a secret gossip blog when the anonymous author refers to Daniel Fienberg only as “Bearded Man.”]
Of the main characters, mostly they were pretty chill about the revelation.
Nate was giddy because Dan gave the scoop to The Spectator and as we all know, the key to kickstarting the fortunes of an under-read tabloid is breaking the identity of a blogger beloved by spoiled Upper East Side brats for discussing the scandals of seven people and never changing his/her site design in six years.
Chuck Bass was OK with things, because he killed his father and married Blair, plus Dan had the decency to stop posting about them after their car accident.
Serena had no problems with it, because despite all of the protestations about character growth, she’s fundamentally a love-starved airhead with no personal ambitions and she’s excited that her boyfriend is cool.
The only person not so pleased?
“He schemed and lied and spread horrible stories,” said the pot of the kettle, unaware of their shared stygian hue.
Serena protested, “What he did this whole time is write a love-letter to us.”
It’s here that I must interject.
What Dan did was what Dan does. And mostly he was pretty mean and self-serving.
Two seasons ago, he penned the roman a clef “Inside,” making their lives into a barely fictional expose. Everybody else discovered he was “Anonymous” and many of them were pissed off and the show suggested that he”d become evil and lost his true identity.
This season, Dan dropped the pretense and just started naming names in a series of online excerpts that may or may not be joined in a book about their over-privileged Scooby Gang. People were very unhappy with him and called him horrible names and the show suggested he”d become evil and lost his true identity.
Heck, diidn’t Dan’s whole career begin with a story in The New Yorker that was also veiled autobiography?
Yes, we were all surprised and happy that Dan Humphrey was Gossip Girl, but why the heck were we surprised? Dishing on the disreputable doings of his comrades and lovers and his family has been Dan’s modus operandi for many years. In fact, Dan Humphrey has never to have anything to offer as a writer other than the dirt he scraped off of everybody else’s shoes, so… Dan Humphrey as Gossip Girl doesn’t just make sense. It’s probably pretty stupid of us [me] not to have realized it. It’s what Dan does. He exploits his friends for his own gain! It’s a love-letter!
Of course, there are kinda nasty sides to this that the show had to quickly gloss over. Gossip Girl did, if you’ll recall, humiliate Jenny Humphrey after she lost her virginity to Chuck Bass, the guy who tried to date rape her in the pilot. [Glossing over Chuck’s various near-rapes and sexual assaults is what “Gossip Girl” does, like spilling his friends’ secrets for money is what Dan does.] So yes, it’s a bit inappropriate and hinky that Dan was writing stories about his teenage sister having yucky, yucky sex with Chuck Bass. And that briefly offends Rufus in that way that many fathers, even fathers as inattentive as Rufus, would be distressed to learn that their sons are taking an unhealthy interest in their sisters’ deflowering. But Dan reassured Rufus that Jenny WANTED to be publicly humiliated so that Taylor Momsen could get far, far away from “Gossip Girl” to continue her career as a punk rock Lolita. And because this was what Jenny WANTED Rufus is totally down with it.
Finally placated, Blair announced, “I guess that means it’s all over. That we call all grow up and move on?”
And the audience said, “Yes, please!” Though we all secretly wondered how much moving on they’re going to be able to do, since all of the characters on “Gossip Girl” collectively decided to drop out of college in their sophomore years and never, ever mention that they spent a long time at expensive prep schools and stressed about getting into Columbia, so maybe they should have stuck around and gotten degrees.
Fortunately, the show flashed ahead to reassure us that all was well in the future, specifically zipping along to Dan and Serena’s wedding where, it must be said, the bride was smoking hot.
In the future…
Blair and Chuck remained married and they had a little boy named Henry who looked like the doll from “Child’s Play.” Nobody mentioned how many times Chuck had been arrested for domestic abuse. [Earlier in the episode, Blair got uppity with Serena about all of the bad things Dan had done to her and Serena responded that Chuck had done worse to her. Blair responded, “He’s one of us,” perhaps the most disgusting allowance for deviant criminal behavior that the show has ever attempted. Because Chuck was from the same social circle, we excuse violence, attempted rape and that thing where he sold Blair? Well… OK! If this were a 1800s Gothic romance, that might fly, but Chuck Bass is no Heathcliff, whether we’re talking about the brooding anti-hero or the chunky cat who just won’t be undone.]
Thanks to the Gossip Girl scoop, which no doubt earned him weeks and weeks of traffic, plus mass advertising, Nate was a successful publisher and was contemplating running for mayor. No mention was made of his dalliance with Sage, which was disappointing because enough time had passed that I’m sure she was legally able to vote. [The scene early in the episode in which Nate refused to let the police interrogate Sage because she’s a minor was a reminder of just how far off the rails “Gossip Girl” went with that particular relationship.]
Georgina and Jack Bass were a couple! [Because they’re disgusting people and they deserve each other.]
Lily and William were back together! [Because they’re disgusting people and they deserve each other.]
Rufus and Lisa Loeb were a couple! [Because they both like hipster glasses and they deserve each other.]
Jenny and Eric were back for the wedding, but we learned no additional details about their lives. [Because we don’t care.]
I think they also showed something about Ivy’s future, but I’d rather not acknowledge that “Ivy” was a thing that happened on “Gossip Girl.”
That was all reassuring and seeing Dan and Serena together will surely make fans pleased. Unless they thought Dan belong with Blair, in which case they were utterly at odds with the show’s writers, who made Dair into a thing for a couple episodes and then rushed back to the warmly abusive confines of Chair. And unless they thought Serena belonged with… Hmmm… Did Serena ever have an alternative boyfriend who didn’t suck or who wasn’t part of some problematic — i.e. twice her age, or her professor or funny looking — power relationship?
The best part of the finale, though, was a tremendous five-minute segment after Gossip Girl’s identity was revealed. In a rush, we saw the reactions from long-forgotten or repressed characters like Jessica Szohr’s Vanessa (disappointingly not in bed with the movie star played briefly by Hilary Duff) and whichever characters were played by current “Arrow” co-stars Willa Holland and Katie Cassidy. [I remembered that Cassidy was on “Gossip Girl” and wanted revenge on Nate or something. I don’t recall what Willa Holland was on the show, so I’m just going to pretend she was in character as Kaitlin Cooper.]
And then, in the best bit, a Gossip Girl voiceover cut to Kristen Bell reading lines for the movie based on Dan’s book, reading lines with… Rachel Bilson!
“If I’m being honest, I don’t think you can pull off high school anymore,” Bell told Bilson. That made me happy.
In general, most of the “Gossip Girl” made me happy enough, which is all I could ask.
A few more thoughts:
*** Having Chuck and Blair get married to cover up an act of violence was frankly pretty perfect. If I thought the “Gossip Girl” writers were winking about the core issues with the couple’s relationship, I’d be pleased. Instead, this was just fitting.
*** I liked the flashback scene to the Serena/Dan meet-cute, especially after having watched the retrospective special, which was mostly a tribute to bad hair styles over the years. Poor Penn Badgley had some of the worst hair, which is an unusual thing to say about the male stars on a show like this. But, in reality, Blake Lively and Leighton Meester looked spectacular through the show’s entire run, while Badgley, Chace Crawford and Ed Westwick were probably the ones cringing through the finale.
*** Line of the episode: William to Ivy – “You’re a Lifetime movie called ‘Nobody Gives a Damn: The Ivy Dickens Story.'” Zing.
*** Good use of the Met and Central Park on tonight’s episode. One of the things that was well observed in the retrospective special was how well “Gossip Girl” handled its location shooting.
*** Because I don’t pay attention, I didn’t know Blair’s middle name was Cornelia or that Jack Bass’s middle name is “Xavier.”
*** Dorota deserved a better send-off. Poor Zuzanna Szadkowski was always buried in the credits, but she was often the show’s MVP.
What’d you think of the “Gossip Girl” finale and the big Gossip Girl reveal?