• Tue, Nov 29 2011

The 30-Year-Old Man’s Guide To Gossip Girl: Rhodes to Perdition

Head Writer: “This script is killing me. We need to reveal Ivy’s true identity, but how the hell are we going to get the Rhodes family in one room?”

Writer #1: “We could kill off Dan. Then, you know, they’d all be at the funeral.”

Head Writer: [considering for a moment] “No, no, no. I mean, I hate Dan as much as anybody in this room, but he just started this new relationship with Alessandra. We gotta let that play out. They haven’t even had sex yet.”

Writer #3: “We could get them all in an airplane and then have it crash on an island. There could by a mysterious polar bear or something.”

Head Writer: “Look, Don. I know you wrote for Lost, and we’re all really impressed with that, but we can’t do that show over again. People would notice. I can’t keep telling you that.”

Writer #4: “Someone could throw a party.”

Writer #2: “We do that in every episode. Blair just had her bridal shower last week.”

Head Writer: “Barry, you know I love to party. I can’t keep telling YOU that. Now we just need a theme for this shindig…”

Writer #1: “How about Studio 54? We get everybody dressed up in 70’s gear. It’d be kitschy. The kids love kitsch.”

Head Writer: “Kids these days can’t even spell kitsch, but that doesn’t matter. I’m picturing Serena with Farrah hair. God, I loved Farrah. I miss her so much…” [stares off into the distance, tears gather in his eyes]

Writer #1: [Shifting uncomfortably] “We’ll, uh, we’ll get right on that one, boss.”

Head Writer: “One more thing, kid. At the party, make sure there’s a fondue pot. Farrah loved fondue.”

I’m a terrible person on the inside. I’m selfish, narcissistic, judgmental, impatient. You might not know that at first because I’m a good actor. The public identity I’ve created for myself is one that’s more socially acceptable. I moderate my opinions so as not to offend. I pretend to care about other people’s lives when all I can really think about is some girl who doesn’t like me as much as I think she should. I judge people harshly at times when they step out of line or make mistakes. And god help you if you take too much time in line in front of me. But despite my inner awfulness, I’m generally well -liked because I keep that garbage inside (for the most part) and project an image that’s more accommodating. So which is the real me? Is it the nasty person on the inside or the friendly, considerate person on the outside? Do our thoughts or our actions make us who we really are? This week, the Gossip Girl characters struggled with this question.

Who is Ivy Dickens? Is she the con woman looking to access the real Charlie Rhode’s trust fund? Or is she the loving cousin, niece, and granddaughter she’s been pretending to be? When she turns down Carol’s offer of money, and covers CeCe’s illness, she seems to be embracing the role she’s been playing for so long.

Who is Chuck Bass? Is he the charitable, Buddhist dog-lover who’s finally put his love for Blair behind him or is he secretly tormented by the thought of Blair marrying someone else. At the end of the episode he seems to reveal that everything has been an act, and that he loves Blair and probably always will.

Who is Nate Archibald? Is he a man independent of his family or is he an insecure, approval-seeking child? When he’s faced with the decision to report on a family member’s trouble, Nate acts like the honorable man he claims to be, toes a thin line between his integrity and his loyalty, and seems to make just the right play. Even garnering her grandfather’s respect in the end.

But not all projections are good. A few characters chose to put on a negative public face in hopes of short-term gain. CeCe allowed Ivy to cover for her by claiming her feinting spell was due to dieting rather than illness. Ivy claimed she was being blackmailed with a sex tape rather than reveal her true identity (I don’t have space to talk about the absurdity of sex-on-camera and starvation dieting being preferable images to illness and deceit, but it didn’t go unnoticed). Dan embraced his negative twitter feed when he learned the elaborate attempt at guerilla marketing was gaining him a bit of attention (interesting side-note: @IHateHumphrey is an actual twitter feed that’s been active for 45 days. Keep that one in mind for your next #ff).

All these characters made choices about what they would project to the world and how that projection would be framed, and many times the two did not match. If this show is true-to-life (and I think we can all agree it’s not), at some point their acts will wear thin, their façades will crumble, and their true thoughts will be manifest. I know that’s what happens with me. And it’s all I care to think about.

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