I can’t stand when my favorite books are turned into movies. More often than not, they are completely changed and I end up with a watered down version of something I loved. Changing books into TV shows… now that’s a bit different. Case and point: “Gossip Girl.”
I used to read the “Gossip Girl” books by Cecily von Ziegesar back in high school. When rumors started floating around that the books would be turned into a movie with Lindsay Lohan as Blair Waldorf, my heart started to break. For whatever reason, Hollywood pulled the plug on that movie (and that casting) and my precious books weren’t ruined.
A few months after the movie was shelved, a new idea emerged to turn “Gossip Girl” into a television show. I could live with this. It makes more sense since there are so many “Gossip Girl” books and each one could become it’s own episode. So, when the show debuted three years ago, the first episode ruined nothing. It emulated the first book perfectly. The casting was great, the writing was nicely done and my precious upper east side of Manhattan wasn’t some sound stage in Burbank, CA.
Over the years though, the books haven’t really been touched upon again and the show has become it’s own story telling machine. Once in a while they call back a line or two from the books but all in all, “Gossip Girl” has become it’s own new product. There have been some weak moments (IE, when a model sets Jenny’s dresses on fire) and there have been some great moments (every time Georgina Sparks shows up.) As season three came to an end this past Monday, I couldn’t help but wonder what happened to those books I had loved so much? What happened to the stories I used to read and the characters I used to know? Things have changed a lot for this franchise and not necessarily in a bad way.
Even though the books that the show was based off of are a distant memory, the show has become a great teen drama. The books laid the groundwork for what is now an edgy, fun, glamorous look at life for the young and wealthy in New York. They have their critics (the show’s audience is too young for sex, drugs and drinking) and they have their naysayers (it jumped the shark when Rufus and Lilly got married) but, for myself, I keep coming back for more.
There were moments this season when I thought I couldn’t possibly keep watching. Serena in the tabloids? Blair and Chuck the epitome of a loving couple? It wasn’t working for me. And then it starts to build again. Jenny Humphrey is a mess, Dan and Vanessa are not perfect, Rufus and Lilly have a third wheel, Chuck and Blair have no clue how to love one another… all spiraling into a giant explosion for the season finale. It’s the kind of season finale that makes your jaw drop. If you’re me, you find yourself yelling at your TV set “WHAT JUST HAPPENED!?” and then waiting for an actual answer.
The show is far from perfect. Nate is a completely one dimensional character and I’m not sure the writers know exactly whether they want Serena to be a party princess or a good girl. But I excuse the lack luster characters for the great ones like Chuck Bass and Blair Waldorf. At times they are pure evil, or some would say they are evil geniuses; at other times you see a longing, a desire to be loved. They are perfectly relatable characters, and at the same time unrecognizable in normal life. Who needs Nate and Serena to be perfect when we have Chuck and Blair to watch?
In terms of young teen dramas, shows like “90210” and “the Secret Life” have nothing on this one. It’s better written, beautifully shot and sophisticated. At the same time it is youthful and ridiculous but without being air-head dumb.
The season three finale of “Gossip Girl” made me remember why I kept watching this show all season. When it ended, it felt like an old familiar book that I couldn’t put down. Maybe it was one.