Gossip Girl 3.12 “The Debarted” (aka Patrimony)

Both shows meditate on how grief is a personal and supremely unique torment, impossible to share with others; and yet we do it anyway because we don’t know anything else. Without indulging in normative claims about what a family should be, both shows dramatize that we live in a society that is bereft of fathers and yet that same society will always live in their shadow. And finally, both Friday Night Lights and Gossip Girl tell us in order to heal the wounds and pain caused by the loss of their fathers, the characters must confront their own fears and misgivings about who they are as individuals. Chuck and Matt are men, not their father’s sons.

Gossip Girl 3.11 “The Treasure of Serena Madre” (aka Detournement)

Those that scaped the fire were slaine with the sword; some hewed to peeces, others rune throw with their rapiers, so as they were quickly dispatchte, and very few escaped. It was conceived they thus destroyed about 400 at this time. It was a fearful sight to see them thus frying in the fyer, and the streams of blood quenching the same, and horrible was the stincke and sente there of, but the victory seemed a sweete sacrifice, and they gave the prayers thereof to God, who had wrought so wonderfully for them, thus to inclose their enemise in their hands, and give them so speedy a victory over so proud and insulting an enimie.

Gossip Girl 3.10 “The Last Days of Disco Stick” (aka The Gagaesque Modality)

If we acknowledge that the supreme strength of the television medium is the ability to construct longer and more complex narratives than would be possible in a shorter form, then a plotline like this is an almost-criminal misuse of the form.

Gossip Girl 3.09 “They Shoot Humphreys, Don’t They?” (aka Power Transition Theory)

It came as a shock to me — though it really shouldn’t have been — when I found out that the main demographic for Gossip Girl was not teenaged girls (which only make 16% of the viewership) but “18- to 34-year-old women, with a median viewer age of 27 years old.” It doesn’t change my […]

Gossip Girl 3.08 “The Grandfather: Part II” (aka Categorical Imperative)

Dan and Olivia get the thankless “contractually obligated filler plotline” about Olivia telling an embarassing story about Dan to Jimmy Fallon on his talk show, and then trying to keep that secret from Dan. Considering that Dan’s previous girlfriends’ dark secrets have been “I KILLED A MAN,” “I HELPED COVER UP KILLING A MAN,” and “I THINK I’M COMMITTING STATUTORY RAPE RIGHT NOW,” I don’t know how this Mad Libs plotline is supposed to even register, regardless of the cutesy anniversary ending. Honestly, the ups and downs in terms of writing quality this season are especially jarring. If the characters two episodes ago were in Bringing Up Baby, in this episode they’re in Blue’s Clues.

Gossip Girl 3.07 “How to Succeed in Bassness” (aka Mask of Command)

In contemplating which tyrant Jenny Humphrey (Taylor Momsen) most closely resembles, there are several choices. Robespierre, who initially spouted platitudes about liberty and equality and liberty yet became as bloody-handed as the monarchs he replaced? Or Stalin, who was born of peasant stock but rose through the ranks via connections, cruelty, and subterfuge? No, if you want to find the most intriguing parallels, you have to turn elsewhere; Jenny Humphrey is Adolf Hitler. I understand such comparisons shouldn’t be made lightly, and I’ve already invoked the H-word before when discussing Gossip Girl characters; but bear with me.

Gossip Girl 3.06 “Enough About Eve” (aka Social Identity Theory)

Are we supposed to sympathize with the Van Der Bilts because they are Democrats and the Buckleys are Republicans? We’ve already seen that the Van Der Bilts are just as controlling, manipulative, and desirous of power; they only reinforce that image in this episode. (For a moment, I almost though that Gossip Girl was actually engaging in political commentary.)

Gossip Girl 3.05 “Rufus Getting Married” (aka Screwballs)

If all the writers can do with Serena is play musical chairs, they are wasting her. I seriously can’t remember the last time she did anything interesting. At least Nate was a gigolo for incestuous nobles and punched out his own father.

Gossip Girl 3.04 “Dan de Fleurette” (aka Perestroika)

What I’m saying is that Hilary Duff would probably make a decent president. Better than Bush II, at least. (I assume Cadet Kelly counts as military service.)

Gossip Girl 3.03 “The Lost Boy” (aka Exchange Value)

If there’s anything that Mao Zedong, Milton Friedman, and Publilius Syrus could find common ground on, it’s that “Everything is worth what its purchaser will pay for it.” The Marxian name for this is exchange value, in that the worth of something is determined at the point of transaction. Nowhere is this more evident than in an auction, where a madding crowd swarms over scarcities and determines what the prices of things really are. But one of the questions that art, and especially good art, wrestles with is how this economic truth clashes with the messy margin-less frontiers of human nature. Can you put a price on your lover? On the bonds of family? On vengeance?