“Who knew it would take tons of hate sex and a public take down to get here?”
Gossip Girl centers around five frenemies who live in the Upper East Side of New York City. Blair (Leighton Meester, The Roommate) and BFF Serena (Blake Lively, Green Lantern) spend the season in one romantic entanglement after another. Also BFFs Nate (Chace Crawford, Family Guy) and Chuck (Ed Westwick, Children of Men) find themselves enmeshed in one romance after another, or one bed after another. And finally we have perennial fifth wheel Dan (Penn Badgley, Easy A) who pines after Serena all season, that is when he’s not pining after Vanessa, or Blair, or…you get the point. The season is a cauldron bubbling over with sex games, underage drinking, scandals and fashion aplenty.
When Cecily von Ziegesar first wrote the Gossip Girl books she set the literary and entertainment worlds on fire. They were hailed as Sex and the City for the teen set. And when they were adapted into a television series it was a teen’s dream and their parents’ nightmare, with its characters displaying loose values and at times even looser clothing.
Fast forward, and instead of coming full circle Gossip Girl: The Complete Fourth Season merely goes in circles.
Nate and Dan both want Serena. Serena can’t choose and instead falls for a series of completely inappropriate guys. Blair and Chuck have a shared passion which at once repels and compels and they end the season not committing to each other. Wait a minute…which season of Gossip Girl is this? It’s any. And that’s the show’s biggest flaw. The recycling is just uninspired.
These are not characters I care about at all. I will confess to enjoying the moments when the Fearsome/Fierce-some Foursome joins forces to protect one of their own, but that’s it. They’re spoiled little rich kids using sex, drugs, and blackmail to deal with their non-issues: mainly boredom and a lack of impulse control. Each character’s machinations are quite thinly veiled, thus it made me want things to move along at a faster clip. If it was so clear to me shouldn’t the rest of the characters share in my clarity?
This is a show you watch to make you feel better about your own life, not because you seriously want to emulate anyone within the show. And of course you watch for the fashion.
One of Season Four’s strengths is that Gossip Girl herself is no longer a main component of the show. That being said, I find it hard to believe the Gossip Girl character still has any relevance, especially as these characters are a few years past the point where things that were important in high school are still important. They move into new phases of their life with ease, changing fashions and personalities at the drop of a hat. Believing they still rely on an outside source for gossip or to toot their own horns seems out of character, or at least it should by now.
And all these uber rich kids never think of hiring someone to hack GG’s website, reverse track her cell phone number, or anything like that. Is it stupid or merely sad that they clearly still rely on someone else to make or break their self-worth? Why do they care what Gossip Girl thinks?
Another problem I have is with two of the actresses and my inability to separate them from other annoying characters they played. I find too much of Dawn from Buffy the Vampire Slayer in Michelle Trachtenberg’s performance of Georgina, and Katie Cassidy’s Juliet also shows too much of Ruby from Supernatural for my taste. Their characters on Gossip Girl: The Complete Fourth Season also share another trait in common: duplicity. It amazes me after three seasons of backstabbing and betrayal that any of the established characters would fall for the plotting as easily as they do.
It’s hard to be sympathetic to characters who continually allow themselves to be taken advantage of, regardless of whether their motivation is an ongoing quest to find love or not. How many times do we have to watch them spill their guts to total strangers and then be shocked and dismayed when it is used against them?
It’s pretty to look at but Gossip Girl: The Complete Fourth Season refuses to break new ground, merely relying on the same triangles and deviousness of the past. It’s as outdated as Members Only jackets.
The video looks great, which is nothing less than you expect from a show which purposefully designs every shot to look as though it came right out of a magazine spread. However there were some audio clips that were mixed in such a way as to betray the ADR track. That’s one of my pet peeves and it was especially evident in outdoor scenes. The hollowness of the track always takes me out of the moment.
The special features were pretty much what you can expect of the typical television season offering with one noticeable exception: commentaries. Especially considering that there were two episodes shot in Paris, the culmination of years of wishing and planning, I was surprised not to find at least one commentary track. The BTS featurettes were blah, except for the detailing of how an episode goes from concept to script to screen, which provided a nice timeline. Also included was a longer than average gag reel.
This is supposed to be about young people finding themselves at college and defining their place in the world. But the rarity of characters actually attending class during Gossip Girl: The Complete Fourth Season speaks volumes about what we’re supposed to think. These are still immature kids who don’t take their place in the world seriously. It’s a shame because getting through college could open up new worlds for these characters to inhabit and they might have the chance to mature into people whose journeys we care about, as opposed to only caring what designer they’re flaunting this week.