Youyoung Lee
September 20, 2007 AT 09:33 PM EDT

Watching the premiere of Gossip Girl last night inspired me to divulge in an insider secret of my own. Ready? Here I present to you the CW network’s formula for success:

(Emo Boy + Brooding Dark Horse + Beauty with Big, Mysterious Problems + Rich A–hole + Drugs + Money) x Lotsa Sex = Trash TV Gold

Q.E.D! Wait, I’m not talking about the O.C., I’m talking about Gossip Girl. If the comparisons are endless, you can thank executive producer/writer Josh Schwartz (and O.C. creator) for that. This East coast edition is even more lecherous, juicy, and ADD-friendly than its predecessor. Technology practically plays a seventh character: MySpace! Texting 24-7! Blogging! Spying tipsters like Melanie91! News travels in Manhattan’s Upper East Side faster than you can say: No she dih-dint.

Serena van der Woodsen (Blake Lively, pictured, right, in a similar role to the one she played in Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants) returns to the UES after a short stay at boarding school; why she left (pregnancy?), and who she’s left behind (B.F.F. Blair Waldorf, played by Leighton Meester, left, and a suicidal younger brother with an uncanny resesmblance to Aaron Carter) are the crux of Gossip Girl’s blogs. Blair’s become queen bee at their elite prep school in Serena’s absence, and no way is she going to let S. waltz back into her life and friends. Lovelorn Nate Archibald mopes around like a neglected puppy. Meanwhile, friend/antagonist Chuck Bass’ (Ed Westwick) main mission in life seems to be to smoke weed and try to “tap that a–” at all times. It’d almost be funny, if he didn’t look so creepy while doing it.

For those of you who have read the books, what did you think about the addition of the parents? To me, they seemed one-note — and boring ones at that. Blair’s mother was dressed exactly like Carolina Herrera during the recent Fashion Week, and former rocker Rufus Humphrey looked young enough to date Serena, not her mother. Also, the parental units are weirdly wrapped up in their own lives. Do you think they should stay in the show? Do you even care about them?

High school was hard enough, as I recall. These socialite kids are probably — OK, are — everythingI wanted to be growing up: Smart, rich, and beautiful. Middle-classbrother and sister Jenny and Dan Humphrey, who are so artsy thatthey’ve been relegated to Brooklyn, would agree. It’s like that page inUS Weekly — They’re Just Like Us! But not. We can relate to thesesilver-spooned lemmings, but are envious of their extra, inaccessiblepanache. They drink dirty martinis — at the Palace. They face collegedilemmas like the other seniors — but between schools like UCLAand Dartmouth. Grilled cheese? Sounds good — but only with truffle oil.

And that is why we laugh, and why we watch. Schadenfreude — which explains why TMZ and Gawker are open on my desktop right now — isaddictive, as the thousands of people who read these sites and leavecomments daily prove. So what if it’s shamelessly shallow? When I’msitting in my cramped Manhattan apartment, eating the previous night’s takeout,and basically wishing I were far, far away, Gossip Girl is a perfect one-hour escape to my otherwise plebeian existence.

Pop Watchers, what did you think? Do you love it or hate it? Is ittrue to the books? Did anyone else notice that our gals’ preferrednicknames — “B.” and “S.” — form a not-so-nice abbreviation? Do you thinkthere are too many drugs? What’s up with the token minoritygirlfriends — will they ever speak? And who’s the fairest guy of themall? My money’s on the hipster Dan (alas, I could never say no to arock star, even if he’s only the son of a forgotten one.) And, of course, make sure to check the magazine for our critic’s official take on the show.

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