Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Warner Bros: Gossip Girl Season 1

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Gossip Girl Season 1

No. of episodes: 24
Producer: Warner Bros Pictures
Based on the book with the same name by Cecily von Ziegesar

Blake Lively - Serena Van Der Woodsen
Leighton Meester - Blair Wardorf
Chace Crawford - Nathaniel Archibald (Nate)
Ed Westwick - Chuck Bass
Penn Badgley - Dan Humphrey
Taylor Momsen - Jenny Humphrey
Kristen Bell - Voice of Gossip Girl

Supporting Cast:
Kelly Rutherford - Lily Van Der Woodsen
Matthew Settle - Rufus Humphrey
Connor Paolo - Eric Van Der Woodsen
Margaret Colin - Eleanor Wardorf-Rose
Jessica Szohr - Vanessa Abrams
Michelle Trachtenberg- Georgina Sparks
Robert John Burke - Bartholomew Bass (Bart)
Francie Swift - Anne Archibald
Sam Robards - Howard Archibald

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The story started with the return of Serena Van Der Woodsen, who was branded as the ‘It’ girl in the Constance Billard School; a prestigious school in the high streets of Manhattan. Gossip Girl played a major part in the entire series; with her voiceover and her revelations of the happenings in the up and high society in the Upper East side of Manhattan. Her identity was never revealed; but she was the one who blogged about all the social updates and had the entire school tuned into her influence.
Everyone seemed to have her cell phone number and yet no one could track her down; and that was how, she sent her updates and messages across to the high and mighty society in the upper social circle in the school.

Gossip Girl highlighted the surprising return of Serena; who mysteriously disappeared to attend a boarding school in Connecticut.
The news soon had the whole school buzzing with curiosity when they received the photo of Serena who was spotted at the train station.

Besides being a surprise, Serena’s return was not welcomed by most of the folks in the social circle; particularly her best friend, Blair Wardorf, who was the Queen Bee in the social circle in the school and in town. She was upset and disappointed in Serena’s sudden departure and could not comprehend the reason behind it.
Ironically, Blair’s boyfriend, Nate, was surprisingly enthusiastic with Serena’s return much to Blair’s chagrin.
The other prominent social figure, Chuck Bass, was also trying to threaten Serena based on what he knew about her previous doings before she left for boarding school.
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It was then revealed that Serena came back to visit and to withdraw her younger brother, Eric from the alcoholics’ rehabilitation centre; much to her mother’s protests. Serena was seen to be at loggerheads with her mother, Lily Van Der Woodsen due to this issue and it was later escalated when Lily was to wed Bart Bass, Chuck Bass’s father.

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While dealing with her own family conflicts, Serena sets to make amendments with her former best friend, Blair Wardorf who had started to make her life a living hell by shutting her out of her life and excluding her from all the exlusive parties.
The best friends soon realized they missed each other and decided to patch things up, but not for long, when Nate finally confessed his true feelings for Serena when things get serious with Blair. Nate revealed that he had sex with Serena before she left, leading Blair to end all ties with Serena once again and Serena was angry with Nate.

At the same time, a young girl, Jenny Humphrey tried to get close to Blair and into the social circle of the upper society in school, only to have Blair ordering her around. Her brother, Dan, was concerned with Jenny’s desperate behavior to fit into the group and tried to advise her. However, he ended up being in the social circle as well, despite his reluctance when he pursued Serena, the girl of his dreams.
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He constantly felt pushed out when he realized he does not belong to the company, and he felt upset when he found out about Serena’s fling with Nate; when Blair decided to announce it to him in front of Serena, Nate, and Chuck.
Dan had a bad impression of Chuck as well, who almost raped his little sister, Jenny at a party.
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Dan opted out of Serena’s life but gave in when the duo realized they were in love with each other.
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Nate and Blair broke up, when Blair could not take it anymore with Nate’s reluctance to discuss future plans and also his disinterest in her. During her break up with Nate, she attended a party which she ended up sleeping with Chuck.

Serena and Dan’s relationship progressed, which upset Nate who was facing pressure from his family to get back with Blair to improve their financial condition as his father was involved in business deals with Blair’s mother, a renowned fashion designer, Eleanor Wardorf.
Nate then reconciliated with Blair, much to Chuck’s disappointment as he realized he was falling for Blair and Blair was suspecting her own feelings for Chuck as well, but she dismissed it and slept with Nate.

Rumors then got out when Serena was caught buying pregnancy test kits in the pharmacy and she was then accused of being pregnant with Dan’s child. Dan’s father was worried, and this caused a small rift with Serena’s mother, who used to date Dan’s father during their younger days. Then Jenny overheard Serena telling Dan about the whole misunderstanding and how she was covering up for her best friend, Blair who may be pregnant with Chuck’s child. Jenny revealed this to Nate, and Chuck who was angered with Blair’s spite and he sent a message to Gossip Girl to inform her of the truth.

When the message got out to the entire school, Blair was suddenly shunned and thrown into public humiliation. She was being labeled a slut for sleeping with two best friends within the same week. Unable to handle the pressure, she begged her mother to send her to France to live with her dad for a semester to get away from the public scrutiny. Serena found out about it and pleaded with Blair to stay back on the day she was scheduled to depart for France.

Serena soon had her own problems to deal with when an old friend, Georgina Sparks came back into her life, threatening to blow their cover.
The truth is; Georgina knew the true reason Serena left town for boarding school and it seemed that Serena’s little rendezvous with Nate was not the main reason.
It was soon revealed that Serena and Georgina were partying that same night after Serena had sex with Nate and she fed drugs to a man who was in their company. The man died of drug overdose and Georgina told Serena to flee the scene.
Serena was overwhelmed with guilt ever since and left for boarding school.

Georgina’s return was to convert Serena back to her old ways, which she refused as she now had Dan. Georgina then threatened to blow her cover, leaving Serena in deep depression and she then sought the help of her best friends; Blair, Nate and Chuck in desperation. Dan was bewildered with Serena’s mysterious disappearance again and was led to believe that she slept with other guys; to which Serena just confirmed to make him go away. Georgina tried to threaten Serena by seducing Dan into sleeping with her.

The gang worked their ways to get back at Georgina; and Blair contacted Georgina’s parents which was a success. At the same time, Serena tried to get back to Dan, who was more than upset when he realized that Serena will never be the girl he wanted due to her standing in the social circle.
His best friend, Vanessa Abrams who came back in the middle of his relationship with Serena, wanting him back proved as a threat but Dan rejected her.

Vanessa soon became best friends with Nate, and it turned into something more than just friendship.
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Jenny, on the other hand, soared to popularity after Blair’s act, but was plummeted down to the earth again when Blair struck back. She hurt Eric, who was her best friend when she dated the guy who was Eric’s boyfriend as well which led to a public announcement of her boyfriend’s homosexual relationship with Eric.
At the same time, Lily was struggling with her own feelings with Rufus and Bart when Serena begged her to marry Bart instead of Rufus as she loved Dan and do not want to complicated things further.

The season ended with Chuck promising Blair a vacation together in Italy, while the rest went off on their summer break in the Hamptons; with Serena seen with Nate.

Character Analysis
Serena Van Der Woodsen by Blake Lively
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She was the ‘It’ Girl at one point, and was perceived as a daredevil and one who lived her life to the fullest. Best friends with the Queen Bee of the social circle in their upper students’ Manhattan society, she was equally as popular if not more popular. She almost ruined her friendship with her best friend when she slept with Nate; the boyfriend. Despite all her wild ways which frustrated her own mother, she was actually a warm-hearted person deep down inside who cared about everyone else in her life.
She was not the judgmental girl like any of the others in the social circle and she had an opinion of her own. She loved her younger brother and would do anything to protect him, including her own reputation at stake. Her feelings for Nate were subdued as she pledged her loyalty to her own best friend and brushed off Nate as just a mistake. She was loyal to Dan despite being misunderstood for numerous times. This was proven when she found out about her own mother’s feelings for Dan’s father which she could not fathom as it could jeopardize her own relationship with Dan. Serena is a complicated and yet simple character who was indeed, a true friend to all although I have to say she can be a rather confusing character as well, as she does not seem to have a strong hold on her own will to make things final.

Blair Wardorf by Leighton Meester
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Dubbed as the Queen Bee due to her social status as being the famous fashion designer, Eleanor Wardorf’s only daughter. Life seemed perfect for this young aspiring girl who strived to go to Yale University, until her parents were filing for divorce and her best friend left the town without informing her. Then she realized her own true love was not really in love with herself but slept with her best friend, and suddenly, her seemingly perfect world came crashing down. Life must have been pretty hard for this young lady.
To make matters worse, she lost her virginity to the most unimaginable guy who was in her own circle; who was known to have the most lewd reputation in town. All of a sudden, she was no longer the Queen Bee but was the trash in town where she was being judged as a slut for losing her chastity to two guys within one same week.
Not knowing how to deal with the pressure, she opted to leave the country but she was held back by her best friend and she was forced to face her own problems when she stayed back which included her true feelings for Chuck, the guy who first took her virginity which she was not willing to admit. Blair was definitely a strong female character, and can appear as your typical witch who crazed for power and fame. However, deep down inside, she is just human and she is just a pitiful girl who was thrown into tumultuous moments and having to appear brave in front of all.

Nate Archibald by Chace Crawford
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The Golden Boy in the Upper East Side, it is no wonder he was the most sought after by most of the girls in the school (or the area for that matter). He was like the male version of Blair Wardorf, who seemed to have it all; only that, it was just an illusion. His own parents pushed him to maintain a relationship with Blair to protect his father’s career and the family’s financial standing when he was truly in love with Serena. He was turned away by Serena over and over again and when he decided to get back with Blair, to start all over again, he found out in devastation that his supposedly ‘chaste’ girlfriend slept with his best friend, Chuck. To add to the drama, his own father was involved with drugs and was soon arrested by the authorities for embezzlement in the company, leaving his mother to shut him out of her life. Nate was forced to grow up and to watch over his mother who seemed to be disinterested in his father. It was not an easy thing for a teenage boy to deal with his own relationship issues and yet juggle with his own family crisis.
It is no wonder Nate struck me as one very confused boy in this whole series; especially in this first season. He did not seem to have an idea of what he wanted.

Chuck Bass by Ed Westwick
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This is definitely the pro yet antagonist in the show. Famous for his signature style; the colorful tie, Chuck was one of the most despised guys in the show for his various experiences with attractive girls in the school. He owned the reputation of being one of the playboys in the school and he even tried to rape Serena and Jenny. He was initially an accomplice to Blair for getting back at Serena and Nate, but his involvement with Blair began when he felt attracted to her and had sex with her in the back of his limo after a party which was after Blair broke up with Nate. He found that he had fallen for her when he was upset with the news that she wanted to get back with Nate. However, he could not bring himself to admit his true feelings despite being pressured by Blair. Chuck was a very cool and calm character but you could see that indecisiveness in his eyes. It was impressive how cool he could make himself look despite the jealousy and anger he had in his heart.

Dan Humphrey by Penn Badgley
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A simple guy who was just looking out for his sister, Dan soon got involved in a lot more than he bargained for when he got the attention of Serena, the ‘It’ Girl. He was simple, straightforward and an honest guy who did not belong to the upper social circle and he was trying to avoid them but he could not help his attraction to Serena, a girl he had been having crush on for sometime. It was only natural that he was excited and happy when she reciprocated his feelings. He was constantly doubtful of Serena and her company, especially after Blair told him about Serena’s little affair with Nate. Then Dan was upset that Serena did not choose to run to him whenever things happened and he was often jealous of Nate. He was comfortable confiding in his old best friend, whom he used to like before she left town and whom he rejected when she returned because his heart is now for Serena.
He is just another teenage boy sorting out his identity; and I thought it was quite sweet that he cherished chastity as something for love and not of lust when he thought that it was better to put off sex with Serena until they are sure of each other.

Jenny Humphrey by Taylor Momsen
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She was an aspiring young fashion designer and she was trying so hard to fit into the social circle and being accepted by Blair and her friends. Sometimes I think she was just trying too hard; as deep down inside, she was not a bad girl but because of her pride and wanting to be part of the ‘cool crowd’, she went beyond herself to make others happy. She lost her identity in the process and almost her own virginity to Chuck Bass. She started doing things to hurt others; including people who cared about her and that was really sad. When she finally lost everything, she realized her mistakes and bounced back into her life by focusing on her own aspiration to be a fashion designer. I preferred to see her when she is not so much of a bitch type.

Vanessa Abrams by Jessica Szohr
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Dan’s best friend and crush, she returned to rekindle that flame and relationship with Dan and was disappointed to find out that she had been replaced by Serena. She continued to support Dan and was behind him in everything he does, much to Serena’s envy and Blair’s disgust. Blair warned her to stay away from Dan, as Serena was her best friend and she would anything to protect her. To a certain extent, I find this character annoying as she was just creating tension everywhere she went and I do detest that all so Miss Perfect and Miss Happy-Go-lucky kind of character which just made me feel she is just so fake. At the end of the season, she seemed to have gotten quite close to Nate which signifies they may have something on in the next season. I just think this character can be a nuisance sometimes; butting herself here and there in everyone’s relationship and not really belonging there.

Blair Wardorf and Serena Van Der Woodsen
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They were best of friends, yet they were occasional rivals as well in their bid for attention and popularity, although the competition seems to be more active on Blair’s side. Blair was constantly the one who wanted to be ahead of Serena, as she believed her life was meant to be the more perfect one. She had a fashion designer mother, she had Yale in front of her, and the Golden Boy Nate was her boyfriend. She could not accept it when her mother chose Serena to model for her latest line of design nor could she forgive Serena for sleeping with her boyfriend. It was perfectly understandable that she fought the entire way to keep her life in piece. Over all, the two girls are still the best friends anyone could have; the way they stood up and encouraged each other in times of crises.
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Nate Archibald and Chuck Bass
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Boys will be boys, they are best buddies until Nate found out about Chuck sleeping with his ex-girlfriend, Blair. They fought and their friendship broke off after that, with Nate giving Chuck the cold shoulder. The truth is, Chuck was also jealous of the popularity and the good/Golden Boy image his best friend had, in contrast to his Bad boy image and how he was scorned by most people while Nate was worshipped and adored by most of the girls. Chuck was happy to discover Nate’s scandal with Serena but when things truly took off with Nate, he was afraid to lose his best friend as well. Despite being the bad guy he is, Chuck was still one good and loyal friend who would always mock but yet help when needed.

Dan and Vanessa
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They started off with not-so-much-of-a-platonic friendship; with both of them having feelings for each other but Vanessa took off and Dan left his feelings at that. He fell for Serena after that and when Vanessa returned, she expected to pick things up where they left off but was disappointed to find that there was no room in Dan’s heart for her anymore. She became that buddy for Dan, while still harboring her own feelings for him. The relationship slowly changed to platonic when Vanessa also started falling for Nate and the duo always had each other to turn to, away from the watchful eyes of the high and mighty clique.

Blair, Serena, Nate, Chuck
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Despite their complicated love lives with each other (or among each other), they were the best of friends who would help one another when in need. Their friendship was jeopardized by their flings with each other, not to mention their disloyalties to their partners and friendships. However, when Serena faced threats from bad girl Georgina, the gang teamed up to help Serena overcome the crisis and it was then that you can see how close the bond is as arch rivals patched their differences to unite against their enemy. They would always have feelings and affections for each other; and it is not hard to comprehend when you have equal number of both genders in the friends group and all are equally attractive.
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Serena and Eric
Serena was protective over her younger brother and she felt strongly towards her mother whom she felt was being manipulative when she put her brother in the alcoholics’ rehabilitation center and refused to bring him home. The siblings were trusting towards each other and to a certain extent, they were like best friends at home.

Dan and Jenny
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This pair of siblings is also similar to the above; whereby the elder brother always fought to protect his estranged little sister who is often too naïve to be trapped in the world of the upper society. She was lured into the materialistic world and having the power to command popularity and attention that she almost lost herself, and her virginity. Her older brother would always be there to make sure she stayed safe and sane while she was the pillar of strength and motivation for him to survive and to be happy in his own relationship.

Nate and Blair
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They were the golden couple; and Blair was so in love with Nate that she was ready to marry him. Nate, on the other hand, I suspected was not totally into Blair as he had been wondering about his own feelings for Serena as well. Otherwise, he would not have jumped at the chance to sleep with Serena immediately. They were more of a couple who wanted the publicity, and it was not a two-way relationship.
Blair was the only one trying to hold the relationship together; forgiving Nate's mistake with Serena and starting all over. Nate however, was not so forgiving when he found out about Blair losing her virginity to Chuck. They finally ended their relationship when they both could not bear to hold on much longer due to their dissolving feelings for each other after all the incidents.

Dan and Serena
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Dan had a crush on Serena for some time already and Serena also fell for him, although initially it was probably a rebound from her relationship with Nate and her guilt for sleeping with the best friend's boyfriend. However, when they both get involved with each other, they became serious and things were really hot and heavy between the two. Dan was the jealous type and I can't say I blame him, given Serena's clique and track record. Serena cared about him and was constantly seen to be running around explaining herself to him that I felt it was tiring. Perhaps she had a lousy record, but so what, there ought to be trust and faith when you start a relationship. Maybe they were not really that meant to be after all, furthermore, was it me or is Serena really taller than Dan?

Nate and Serena
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The two seemed to have a 'thing' for each other since the beginning as most of the characters seem to say. When they finally wound up in each other's arms, they both felt guilty about cheating on Blair (although I must say that Serena seemed to be the one feeling more guilty about it than Nate). Nate was hung up on Serena and could not get over her, but Serena pushed him away in loyalty to her own best friend.
There seemed to be a sign of a possible romance between the two at the end of the season.

Blair and Chuck
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They were some kind of accomplices for each other; with Chuck helping Blair to get back at Serena. When Blair broke up with Nate and lets her hair down one night, she ended up losing her virginity to Chuck and there was an unspoken affection between the two ever since. They both knew they had fallen for each other, even when Blair got back with Nate. When she broke up with Nate the second time, Chuck still would not admit he was in love with her and neither would she. Games pursued and the duo was just playing tango with each other towards the end of the season when Chuck finally hinted to Blair when he asked for a vacation which he chickened out at the very last minute.

Dan and Vanessa
More one-sided and platonic, as Dan only had eyes for Serena. Vanessa thought they could rekindle their almost romance while Dan ended it the moment Vanessa left town.
They remained best friends although Vanessa hoped for a relationship to blossom between them until she fell for Nate.

What I Liked about the series was how they incorporated the modern technology into the concept of the series. I liked how teenagers are portrayed in the contemporary style; whereby cell phones and the Internet plays a major role in their lives. It was an interesting insight and an incredibly imaginative background on the upper society of high school kids. I liked how most of the social issues were highlighted in the series as well through the stories of the characters.
Oh, I love the fashion and the trends as well; both the girls and the guys just looked great and fashionable in everything they wear! =)
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The cast was a great assemble of incredibly good looking young guys and equally beautiful and elegant girls, what is there not to like?

What I Disliked about the series was how loosely and freely sex was portrayed in here among the high school students. It could be a bad influence to the younger generation. Furthermore, the proud images of the cool crowd and the concept of cliques may also distort the notion of schooling and blending in with everyone. Then again, this is how the world works as well, isn’t it?

What could Improve
More scenes of their education in school and how they go through tests; you know the typical life of a student instead of just parties, etc which is not all realistic, is it?

My Verdict/Conclusion
An absolutely fascinating watch, especially if you love/miss high school life. Also, if you are truly into fashion and all those boy-chase-girl relationship, you would love it.
Of course, you’d know to differentiate the right and wrong before you watch it as well.
I know I am totally hooked! I can't wait for Season 2 =D

You know you loved it too….XOXO, Gossip Girl =)

Rating: 8 out of 10

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