Gossip Girl is back for a third season tonight, and we're filled with anxious excitement. On the one hand, new storylines bring fresh promise to the show, which had a lagging season two. And on the other hand, we can't remember the last time a high-school based show successfully sent its main characters off to college. As just about everyone in the cast heads to NYU, we're cautiously optimistic about the fate of our beloved (and behated!) characters.
Excels At: Delicious drama. I've long argued that Gossip Girl is what The Hills would be if it didn't even try to be "reality." Between hookups, breakups, frenemies, and long-lost half-siblings shared with your ex-boyfriend, this show succeeds week to week at bringing the crazy. It's well-done, too. Even when the show reaches deep into the cliche jar (no, really, Serena and Dan share a half-sibling, who's now in New York looking for his parents), it puts a fresh spin and a Blair Waldorf smackdown on an old trick.
Needs Improvement: The end of the second season was hard to watch. Dan hooked up with a teacher, a move that could have been interesting if it wasn't so heavy-handed and creepy. Or if it had been Chuck. Chuck could've gotten away with teacher-doing. Nate probably could have, too, but he had his cougar-hookup arc earlier in the season.
Part of the problem was that the stories have begun to over-feature recurring characters. After the hugely awesome Georgina arc in season one, the writers began to introduce more and more characters to come in and stir up drama. In season two, Nate's grandparents came to make crazy, as did sketchball Aaron Rose, Poppy Lifton, Lord Marcus Beaton (and his aforementioned cougar stepmom, Lady Catherine), sucky friend Agnes, would-be rapist Jack Bass, noted sleazy Spanish teacher Rachel Carr, and bizarro-plotline driver Elle the "Nanny." And that list doesn't even count Scott, Lily and Rufus's biological son, who made his first appearance in the season finale.
Too much! Can we get back to the show where the biggest drama comes straight from our main characters?
Also, can someone please tell me what purpose Vanessa and Nate serve? They are so freaking useless.
Interpersonal Dynamics: Most notably, Chuck/Blair seems to finally be officially on. It's exciting, mostly because it seems like they're still going to be up to no good, only now, they're kind of like this little mischief-making team. Which I guess they always have been. Look for their wily ways to get the best of them as the season progresses, as they struggle to keep from manipulating each other. (I think it can't be done.)
Dan and Serena is on the sidelines for a while, it looks like. Which is sad, but what can you do when you find out you share a half-sibling? We all know they'll figure it out in the end; for now, it'll be interesting to watch them grow as individuals for a little while.
And of course, there's Lily and Rufus, who are also finally official after two seasons of grown-up tension. We figure they're probably not over all of their problems, either, but it's more interesting to watch them try and figure it out together rather than continue the will-they-or-won't-they. The OMGSOMUCHSEXUALTENSION is really best left for the barely-legals. Also, just some early speculation? I wouldn't be surprised to see Lily get pregnant this year. Just throwing that out there.
Particularly Notable: Hilary Duff is joining the cast for an arc, where she plays an
Pay Attention To: Dorota. I'm still convinced she's Gossip Girl.
Overall Score: 3.5 Stars.
Season Two premieres in the U.S. tonight at 9:00 on the CW.