Gossip Girl – “The Blair Bitch Project”

“The Blair Bitch Project”

April 21st, 2008

I was planning on getting to this earlier, but unfortunately CTV made a decision to (oddly) not even air the ‘triumphant return’ of one of their biggest non-reality American imports. I am fairly frustrated by this decision, considering that the show’s return has been much publicized considering the racy advertising campaign.

But that’s about scheduling – what about the show itself? When we last left the show (You can read my thoughts here), it was with a melodramatic pregnancy scare and a shift in power after everyone discovered Blair’s love triangle. Now, three weeks later, there’s hope that everything will just blow over.

It’s Serena who is seriously naive enough to make such a ridiculous decision, and she clearly has never watched television before. It may be three weeks later, but there are a lot of consequences to new lives and new environments. The people are still talking, Jenny has fallen further and further into the inner circle, and the men are certainly taking a back seat.

But can Blair, with Serena’s help, overcome his bitchiness? And can Serena survive living in the same apartment as Chuck? And, more importantly, is the show on the right track in the home stretch of its strike-affected first season?

Spotted – maybe.

If there’s a single character who has changed in three weeks, it’s most certainly Jenny – too wrapped up in the life of the inner circle that was once Blair’s to pull back, she’s turned to bartering away her sewing machine and stealing from her rich “friends” to buy her own expensive clothes she can’t afford.

There’s a lot of identity issues flying around, but hers are simultaneously the most damaging to her character and (unfortunately) somewhat melodramatic. The show goes a bit too far to demonstrate her struggles, having her steal her way into a bind and using broad realities to shock her into realizations. There was no question to the show’s writers that she is really just a good little girl trapped in a dangerous world with nowhere to turn.

I don’t disagree with this characterization, it fits the non-entity of a character we knew in the early portions of the season and all, but I really wanted them to actually turn Jenny into a character with a dark side. The show went to too much effort to define her two worlds as black and white – it’s a damning statement to the lack of social mobility, rather than a damning statement against Jenny. I wanted to be more frustrated with her than with reality, but the show wouldn’t let me. I think Taylor Momsen did some great work, especially in her breakdown, but I guess I wanted more shades of grey.

The spinoff of it all plays in Blair’s favour, who manages to regain her position in the Inner Circle (For about half an hour) by being the one to out Jenny’s theft (And identity issues). Serena attempted to teach her the values of being nice, but you can’t teach a dog new tricks: Blair gets burned one time too many and decides to convince her former friends and Rufus to throw her a lame “loft party” instead.

I do wish we could have seen more of depressive and isolationary Blair, especially since she was “sleeping with her chocolate” (A line I found quite humorous), but I guess Bitchy Blair will have to do for the time being. I do think that they will eventually need to settle this on a common ground, but until that point this characterization will work.

I’m glad to see that she is, at least, a woman scorned at episode’s end, so maybe we can get a further explosion as she realizes that Jenny usurped her position back by showing up arm-in-arm with Nate and literally pimps him out for favour with the group. Not only does this prove that Nate is pretty much just a bank and a prop in this series right now, but it also demonstrates Jenny’s plucky resilience – and if Blair is anything like me, she really wants to throw things at that characterization. So, go Blair.

In our B-Story, Serena and Chuck are co-existing in the land of the Bass, and there’s problems: they start small, with Chuck smoking it up in her bathroom, but then they suddenly grow large. There’s a present of pornography, a delivery of champagne at school, and eventually an envelope with cocaine in it. Serena is more than a little frustrated, and eventually her anger overflows into Chuck being kicked back to his hotel suite (Which, wouldn’t he want to live there anyway, considering his lifestyle?)

It was good to see a bit more of Erik this week, especially as it relates to being Chuck’s little brother and the concept of family that Chuck values, because it did give us a chance to see that Chuck is (As Lily puts it) “Eccentric, but certainly not diabolical.” Now, clearly, he’s shown the latter side in the past, but he’s not downright evil, and the reveal at episode’s end that he wasn’t sending the packages demonstrates ye olde character trait of the bad boy: so unwilling to give up their reputation, they will refuse to adamantly deny or prove their innocence of crimes in favour of growing their reputation in this area.

Who was behind the package? “G,” who based on the handwriting and casting spoilers means that someone from Serena’s past thought that the girl she once knew could use a little kinky sex, champagne toasts and drug-fueled parties. Who knows what delicious and delectable trouble she’ll introduce to every single relationship and friendship on the show, as such guest stars are bound to do!

In the end, it was a smart episode if not one that did everything I wanted it to – I think it worked as more of a premiere than a lot of other shows that have returned, as the end of the first part of the season had really been structured like a finale. Here, we have whole new situations, and as they unfurled new storylines and re-engaged feuds emerged. There was a lot of change in some characters, but none in ones like Nate and Dan who were relegated to the sidelines.

However, there is now momentum heading into next week, and into the rest of the season – not many serialized shows that remain relatively untested are returning (Not even ABC’s verified hit in Private Practice), so Gossip Girl has to prove its mettle here even with a second season confirmed. Thus far, they’re on a decent track.

Cultural Observations

  • This may have been Rufus’ best integration into the general storylines yet, which is always a good sign. His character (The “Hot Dad” as Penelope put it) is better used in these situations than in diversionary and awful parents storylines.
  • The other thing the episode certainly had in its favour: No Vanessa! I’m hoping that the producers flat out realized her character doesn’t work, as opposed to it being a simple coincidence, but I only want her around when it is necessary to evoke maximum drama from a situation that warrants it.
  • In terms of scheduling, I’m hoping that CTV (Who once aired the series a day earlier than its Wednesday episodes) will make room somewhere (Seems odd that they haven’t), but the other piece of drama is that the episode won’t be streaming online or available on iTunes. Essentially, it’s TV or nothing, an attempt to drive Nielsen ratings in an attempt to appease advertisers. It’s been a huge online success for The CW, so this decision is certainly an ultimate test of how online streaming operates in this day and age – stay tuned to your ratings website of choice for the results.

5 Comments

Filed under Gossip Girl

5 responses to “Gossip Girl – “The Blair Bitch Project”

  1. jetsamjr

    Great analysis! Though I disagree he’s not diabolical – I hope Blair doesn’t forget that he scorned her so horribly and remembers to include him in her revenge campaign.

    And good point too about it feeling like a season premiere of sorts – I think the next 5 eps are going to be very exciting!

  2. jetsamjr

    PS, by “he” I meant “Chuck”. Darn pronouns.

  3. But it was a lover scorned, can we really hold him responsible for those actions all things considered? I’d say there’s some good in Chuck Bass, and would actually be one to actively defend him – the writers have occasionally erred on the side of the diabolical to create a clear villain, so I’m hoping that G’s arrival might allow them to return to a more human side of Chuck simply glimpsed here.

  4. silvia

    hi is this season 2 or just eps 14?

  5. silvia

    someone answer me send me an email silviasiantar@hotmail.com thx

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