Way back in 2007, the world was welcomed to the Upper East Side (thanks, Kristen Bell) and the most loveable group of spoiled society darlings this TV generation has ever known.
“Gossip Girl” is based way too loosely — where are Jenny’s huge breasts? — on the best-selling series of novels. It's like an upper-crust version of “Friends,” only these six love nothing more than to secretly (or not-so-secretly) backstab, lie and fornicate all over each other. In the midst of an economic banking crisis, who knew watching self-indulgence at its highest caliber would be so satisfying?
As the “Gossip Girl” gang has matured from lusty teenagers with daddy issues (lots and lots of daddy issues) to college-bound freshman with bigger dreams and bigger schemes, to a dysfunctional group of misfits — who all awkwardly stopped going to college without explanation — we’ve loved them at every step. But even the love of a guilty pleasure can’t withstand everything that is wrong with “Gossip Girl” ’s farewell season.
The plot is holier than a cheap pair of nylons (or anything Serena wears, ever), while characters are so far out of character that we don’t even recognize them. Not even the Brooklynites are making sense anymore.
Chuck (Ed Westwick) and Blair (Leighton Meester) can’t be together because they made an all-important pact in Monte Carlo after hot hotel sex? That’s even worse than Blair’s season five pact with God. For God’s sake (sorry, Blair), the two have been dancing around each other since the infamous deflowered-in-a-limo scene, and yet they still can’t put their neuroses aside and make it work. If anything is going to hold them back, it should be sturdier than a nebulous threat from a back-from-the-dead (really, why?) Bart Bass (Robert John Burke).
Then there’s Serena’s (Blake Lively) — can she commit to anyone? — fling with Steven (Barry Watson! What are you doing here?), a guy who’s old enough to have a 17-year-old daughter and who has slept with Serena’s mother. Gross, even for Serena standards. At least Serena and Dan (Pen Badgley) might find a way to be together if Dan would quit mooning over Blair and wasting his writing talents on alienating exposés. As if you weren’t lonely enough already, Dan. If the two kind-of-step-siblings — does this relationship strike anyone else as a little incestuous? — can make it work, they might just end up being the Ross and Rachel of the series. Take that, Chuck and Blair.
Poor old Nate (Chace Crawford) is having money problems at the Spectator, the tabloid that he runs (really believable, especially since he never went to college), and inevitable relationship problems with the terribly written and useless Sage (Steven’s daughter! Even more believable). Nate hasn’t been in the forefront of the show since season one, and it doesn’t look like things are changing anytime soon. For a main character, he really doesn’t get to do anything except the requisite man-whore and best friend duties.
At least the parents’ lives are even more fucked up than their kids, with Lily (Kelly Rutherford) morphing into a semi-villain pitted against Chuck and manipulated by Bart. Come on, Lily, we had more faith in you than that, even with the whole you-sent-Ben-to-prison-when-you-knew-he-was-innocent-the-whole-time thing.
Then there’s the not-that-convincing arc during which “kept” husband Rufus (Matthew Settle) supposedly falls victim to a totally inappropriate affair with the maybe-she’s-evil Ivy (Kaylee DeFer). Side note: That whole Ivy/Charlie/Lola kid swap was so poorly executed it wasn’t palatable in the show or in real life, though it's still unclear whether the writers actually fell asleep on the job.
And William (William Baldwin) is just all over the place, per usual. At least Jack Bass (Desmond Harrington) is still the loveably terrible carouser who steals every scene, even though he might be Chuck’s maybe-father. Better than the overblown Bart in any case.
It seems “Gossip Girl” couldn’t keep up with all those interweaving plot threads and tied itself into one too many knots to be salvageable. With the upcoming two-hour series finale almost here — we can’t believe it either — the answers will supposedly be supplied, along with the spectacular unveiling of the real Gossip Girl.
Why the network decided to do an abbreviated season for the show’s final farewell we’ll never know, besides the fact that abbreviated seasons seem to be wildly popular this year. It feels insufficient for a series that walked the line between drama and soap so perfectly to go out without the requisite fanfare. One can only hope that the last episodes of the season manage to turn everything around, pull out all the stops and end on a high. “Gossip Girl” fans deserve no less.