Gossip Girl

While I was in New York, I was trend-spotting with my friends. One TV show made the top of the list: Gossip Girl, the must-see teen drama on television today. Suddenly, shows like the O.C. and One Tree Hill seem so ‘last century’. Gossip Girl has taken television two steps ahead and after watching last night’s episode, I can tell you that Gossip Girl is going ‘extreme.’ How often do we see a 15 year-old boy being “outed” or hear a 17 year-old girl confess to her best friend that she’d killed someone in her past? For some, the plot lines may be too much, but Gossip Girl, being a successful book series which was transferred to television has to be edgy and steamy in order to keep its fans.

By conventional standards, Gossip Girl is not a successful TV show. But when you add up iTunes downloads and multiple websites that host the episodes for the rest of the world, there are many who consider Gossip Girl a cultural phenomenon. The program has had a great impact on music, fashion and society. Just taking a walk on the Upper East Side of New York, you will see teenagers, dressed in their school uniforms, talking and behaving like their heroes from their favourite series. What started as just an idea for a book series and a TV show, has now become deeply embedded into teenage subculture.

Another telling aspect of the series is its use of technology. These stars are really tech-literate in a way never seen before in a teen drama. With a ‘blog’ being the core value of the show, our heroes use high-end cell phones, computers and gadgetry in every episode as part of their daily routine.  Keep your eye out for another daring aspect of the series: product placement. The Humphreys, the creative family group on the show, use Apple computers, while the families on the Upper East end use Windows-based Dell laptops. Just last month, there was a report online which classified people who use Mac products as “more creative.” (Ha! I am a Mac user!)

But, the real juice of the show is in its characters and cliques. In every educational institution you’ll find the stereotypes depicted here: the Queen Bee, the socialites, the ‘wannabes,’ the good guys, the bad girls, the party boys, the sports guys, the popular crowd, and the outcasts. Most of us experience school society as trying, and our school years can often define what we will become in the future. Kids who were unpopular become successful, happy adults, because their bad school experiences provide them with strength of character and therefore, the ammunition, to fight back. Even taking poetic license, Gossip Girl characterized these events and the people we all meet during our high school careers in a real way.

Gossip Girl has become successful because – let’s face it- deep down, we all love to hear gossip. Perez Hilton’s website (www.perezhilton.com) gets millions of visitors daily, while publications like People, Star and InTouch battle each other for that exclusive expose every week. In the meantime, the cast experiences a taste of its own medicine when people roam New York City just to spot them and report the sightings to their blog or favourite gossip column. But Gossip Girl, still in its first season, will have a tough time maintaining its buzz. Each week it will have to raise the bar higher, as its viewers crave sensation and become quickly spoiled. Without enough stimulation from their favourite show, they’ll move on to something else.

Omigod! – I have to leave you. I spotted someone.

Last 5 posts by Ilias Kountoupis