Monday, December 17, 2012
"Gossip Girl" says its final XOXO
And so it's come to this. On Monday night, "Gossip Girl" will air its final episode, the 10th in a shortened sixth season which has highlighted all of the series' biggest flaws while doing its best to make longtime fans forget why they even started watching the show.
In my case, I remember exactly why I started watching: Kristen Bell. Sure, the former "Veronica Mars" star was only providing the snarky voice of the titular blogger Gossip Girl, but that was enough to get me to tune in. I quickly became enamored with the glossy, scandalous lives of these New York high schoolers with out-sized egos and even larger trust funds. The show evolved beyond a guilty pleasure to just a pleasure. At its most ridiculous in those early seasons, it was a fun watch every week.
But as the seasons dragged on, the show became less enjoyable and more of a chore. This season, things really hit rock bottom (yes, even worse than raccoon makeup Jenny in Season 2). The whole Lola-Ivy-William-Lily plot didn't really seem to go anywhere, and distracted from what should've been a focus on the core Dan-Serena-Chuck-Blair-Nate group. They tried a drastic change with Serena, only to undo it over the course of about 20 minutes, while Dan's role has vacillated back and forth between ally and enemy on a seemingly weekly basis.
Frankly, the whole season has just been a mess, and it's revealed a larger problem with the last few seasons of the series.
In a good serialized drama, the characters evolve as the show goes on. They shouldn't change drastically from the characters we first met -- if they do, it suggests that the characters were poorly developed at the beginning -- but they shouldn't remain static either.
As I've watched season six of "Gossip Girl", I couldn't help but bemoan the lack of character growth, among the core remaining characters. It seemed like this season was less of a natural progression from what's come before and more a rehash of everyone's greatest hits. Dan became more outsider-y and more Serena-focused than ever before, Blair had a new scheme every week, Serena continued to define herself by her relationships (both sexual and platonic) even as she claimed she wasn't, Georgina was... well, as batshit crazy as ever (and I still love her for it), Chuck's Chuck-ness was amped up, as was everything that made Nate Nate.
Rufus started the season with the most out-of character decision I've ever seen on this show (non-Jenny category), and yet somehow ended up being the same bad advice giving not-quite-getting it Rufus he was in Season 1.
So after six seasons, I can't help but wonder what it was all for. Is the lack of character growth and the constant repeating of the same mistakes on "Gossip Girl" is just bad writing, or a subtle way of telling the audience that we are who we are in high school, and always will be. If it's the latter, then that's brilliant in its own depressing way, but more likely it's just the former. And what that'll likely mean for Monday's finale is a couple out of nowhere twists, some obvious resolutions to long-term story lines and other story lines that just get completely ignored because they didn't work (or because their characters were exiled from the show). It's entirely possible that Monday's finale will pull everything that's happened over the last 30-some episodes into a perfect picture, but it seems highly unlikely.
Instead, we'll be left with some good memories, some flawed characters and probably a snarky voice-over that tries to wrap up 121 episodes in about that many well-voiced words. And, despite your better judgment, you know you'll love it. XOXO.