Is Gossip Girl an Existentialist Masterpiece?

Categories: Film and TV

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You can check in but you can't check out
This week the CW aired the second to last episode of its long-winded teen drama Gossip Girl. For six years now, the crème-de-la-crème of the Upper East Side of Manhattan have lived through some of the most ridiculous and absurd plots to ever appear in prime time. The show's anti-heroes, Serena, Dan, Chuck, Blair and Nate have been through plot twists one would only find on a Spanish telenovela. But for some reason these characters are about as real as any I have witnessed on television. They are horrible people and it doesn't get any realer than that. And you feel for them; they are sympathetic in their own rights. Each character is destined to spend his or her days being punished for the crime of being an awful human being and the punishment is forced fake friendship. Gossip Girl is an existentialist masterpiece.

The show got its roots from a tween book series of the same title. The plot revolves around a group of over-privileged private school teens and their loves and lives. This plot sounds like every other bad teen show but there is a bizarre twist. There is a person who seems to know the intimate details of these teens' lives and she (or he) writes about them in some blog type of website. It's like TMZ meets the NY Post's "Page Six" meets Facebook, but everyone in the entirety of Manhattan knows about this and gets constant updates on their phone. It makes little to no sense whatsoever and maybe that's why this show is so engrossing. Real jerks whose lives get SMS messaged all over town, and these people have no redeeming qualities.

There's tons of crazy stuff that has gone on over the years, but in general this is one of the very few serialized dramas where nothing ever changes. The character of Dan has spent six years trying to sit at the cool kids' table and he'll never get a seat. Serena can't shake her party girl image, Chuck Bass has daddy issues, Blair Waldorf struggles with her desperate insecurities and Nate Archibald can't do anything right - in six years none of these characters have progressed as people. They have just been going on and on, sleeping together, playing tricks on each other, being best friends, being worst enemies and, over all, annoying the shit out of each other. It's No Exit, but at Bergdorf's.

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She's been wearing this headband for six years!
Last night's second to last episode continued with this season's irrational plot line that started some years ago. Chuck Bass, the heir to the biggest real estate throne, keeps trying to nail his asshole father for being an asshole and it's just not working. For whatever illogical reason he won't let himself be happy with his beloved Blaire until he's proven himself.

Dan Humphrey has been publishing scandalous exposes about all of his "once friends," which makes him very rich but not very accepted by the people he's mocking, oddly enough. And then there's Serena, still trying to make a better name for herself, she decides she will leave New York and head to the West Coast where no one knows her, even though the last time she did this Gossip Girl still followed her every bad move. Everything that is new is old with this crew. Nothing ever changes!

If Gossip Girl really is an existentialist's nightmare that means that the Upper East Side is purgatory. Stay with me here, in No Exit purgatory was a place that the characters could never leave and at first introduction it was a pleasant alternative to the torturous inferno they expected. Soon enough, it is discovered that this hell is worse. On Gossip Girl, the characters can never really leave the upper east side of Manhattan. Oh they go here and there, the West Village, snooty Connecticut but they are always banished back to their UES digs. They can't leave and even when they do, the city follows them through this bizarre, all-knowing website.

Which leads to the final question -- who the 'eff is Gossip Girl? If we are in Sartre's No Exit then Gossip Girl must be God or the devil. And if that is true then next week's season finale is going to be off the chart. I am imagining the Gossip Girl season finale will be akin to Lost, but not as sucky.

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