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Worst TV Show of the Week

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Gossip Girl on CW


Upon accepting the 2008 Teen Choice Award for Choice TV Drama, Penn Badgley - who plays Dan Humphrey on CW’s Gossip Girl (Mondays, 8:00 p.m.) - promised fans and critics alike that for the show’s second season, “We’re bringing the heat, I mean it.”  After a summer of hype which included racy print ads featuring the quote “Mind-blowingly inappropriate” from the Parents Television Council, a spread in the August issue of Vanity Fair, and a total of six awards at the above-mentioned award show, viewers were primed for the season opener which aired on September 1st.  The publicity seemed to pay off as 3.38 million viewers, mostly younger people, tuned in, giving the fledgling network a reason to gloat.


If the Vanity Fair article is right and the show has indeed “hit the sweet spot of the zeitgeist,” then parents need to be aware of what their children are being exposed to.  True to Badgley’s word, the season opener did “bring the heat.”  Most of the Gossip gang found themselves summering in the Hamptons.  The episode begins with high-school student Nate Archibald making out with a rich, older socialite – Catherine - while she straddles him in the passenger seat of a car.  Worried that someone might spot them, she suggests that they go back to her house.  Meanwhile, villainous lecher Chuck Bass relaxes on the beach with a glass of wine as three bikini-clad Brazilian sunbathers surround him and take off their tops.  One girl asks him, “Meester Chuck, is there anything jou need caretaking of?”  He responds with a glint in his eye, “The only thing I need to take care of is you … (glances at the next girl)… and you … (and the next) … and you.”  Later, Nate and Catherine fling their clothes off and hop into bed.  In the next scene, presumably after sex, they lie in each other’s arms when her husband’s car pulls into the driveway.  Nate hops out of the window in his boxers just as the husband arrives at the door to be greeted by his cheating trophy wife.  Towards the end of the episode, the storylines converge at the exclusive end-of-summer White Party.  Catherine is there with her husband and sneers at Nate, “Are you trying to ruin my marriage?”  A distraught Nate tells Serena, “Get me drunk.”  And she happily obliges.  Throughout the course of the party, the various characters manipulate each other to spark jealousy and resentment.  Blair pretends to adore her boring new toy-boy in order to irritate Chuck.  Serena makes out with Nate in order to enflame Catherine while Serena’s ex, Dan, witnesses the kiss and leaves in a huff.  But two girls that Dan was two-timing over the summer see him and douse him with their drinks.  Apparently, the manipulations work since Catherine pulls Nate into a bathroom, kissing him intensely.  Blair’s dud feels compelled to confess that he’s actually an English Lord and suddenly her adoration is genuine.  The show ends with a lonely, plaintive Chuck pouring himself a glass of Scotch.


Consistent with the show’s first season, the teenage characters live unstructured lives virtually indistinguishable from those of adults.  Parents are largely absent, liquor flows freely, and sex has no consequences.  The youth in this show aspire to nothing except vapid status symbols.


The network and the media seem intent on pushing this lifestyle as a reflection of our times, as if all teens use “summer” as a verb, never need to worry about tuition for college, or think about what future they want for themselves and their world.  It is a terribly cynical and limiting view of youthful potential, one that consistently fails to treat teens with honestly and care.


For sexual content, dialogue and alcohol consumption, the September 1st episode of Gossip Girl deserves to be named Worst TV Show of the Week.

Worst TV Show of the Week

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