On Sept. 19, 2007, The CW debuted what would become its flagship series: Gossip Girl. The coming-of-age drama leaned heavily on the sex, scandal, and fashion of New York’s Upper East Side and created instant stars of its young cast — including Blake Lively, Leighton Meester, and Ed Westwick. Ahead, read Ken Tucker’s original EW review of the show’s pilot episode.
Gossip Girl is The O.C. with ADD, The Hills as an asphalt jungle. In adapting the bestselling book series, the O.C. brain trust—producers Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage—has given Gossip speediness and grit. The books worm inside the social circles of a Manhattan private school, giving off a dank musk, but the TV version is bright and energetically jittery.
The show is structured around the “Gossip Girl” blog, whose author is a voice-over (Kristen Bell, crossing her Veronica Mars character with Sarah Jessica Parker in Sex and the City—she’s breezy and WASPish). The initial hookups and breakups mostly involve Blake Lively’s Serena van der Woodsen, who in the premiere is returning to the catfight fray after a boarding-school stay. Among the many eruptions of jealousy and status-seeking, Serena and Blair (Leighton Meester) both covet Nate (Chace Crawford).
I’ll play geezer worrywart and wonder whether young viewers really need a show in which teens swill martinis, talk breezily of recreational Viagra, and use “tap that ass” as a term of fond feeling. And Schwartz and Savage might have fared better had they just built their own show from the ground up: The Gossip books have been around since 2002—a generation in the young-adult publishing trade. The GG brand may have peaked.
Whatever. The cast is as good as the pilot script, and I may not be its target demo, but I admire its fleet pace and sly craft.
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