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Best and Worst Episodes of: Gossip Girl Season 1

I’ve been watching Gossip Girl. I’m not entirely sure why. But its cathartic even when its infuriatingly stupid.

Lots and lots of spoilers for season one abound below.


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Season One Summary (Wikipedia):

The return of “it girl” Serena van der Woodsen (Blake Lively) to the Upper East Side serves as the first season’s focal point. Shrouded in mystery and scandal, Serena’s disappearance and sudden return are announced by the omniscient blogger Gossip Girl. The news reaches Blair Waldorf (Leighton Meester) whose life is torn apart when the secret behind Serena’s leaving is revealed: Serena was seduced by Nate Archibald (Chace Crawford), the Golden Boy of the Upper East Side and Blair’s boyfriend, the night she left town. Nate announces his feelings for Serena a number of times and a series of battles ensue between the former Queen Bee Serena and her heir, Blair. However, the rift resolves in reconciliation between the two and temporary peace follows. Meanwhile, siblings Dan (Penn Badgley) and Jenny Humphrey (Taylor Momsen), Brooklyn residents, are attracted by the opulent wealth of their classmates. Young Jenny becomes a cunning protégée to Blair while Dan enters a relationship with Serena. It is revealed that their relationship resembles the one between Dan’s father Rufus (Matthew Settle) and Serena’s mother Lily (Kelly Rutherford) in their youth.

As a subplot, Blair and Nate suffer problems in their relationship when the dangerously seductive Chuck Bass (Ed Westwick) conquers Blair’s fragile heart. The manipulative Georgina Sparks (Michelle Trachtenberg) arrives, creating a lot of trouble and revealing the real reason behind Serena’s disappearance: a death Serena thought she was responsible for. When Georgina arrives on the Upper East Side she poses as a naive woman named Sarah in order to destroy Serena’s newfound happiness. She succeeds in exposing Serena’s deep-hidden secrets, taking Dan away from her and outing Serena’s brother as gay. At the same time, Blair falls for Chuck, but as a price they both lose Nate. Not able to withstand the vulnerability a love relationship demands, Chuck leaves Blair.

In the midst of all these events, Dan greets Vanessa Abrams (Jessica Szohr) back to his life. Vanessa is a childhood friend of his and an outsider herself. She threatens his feelings for Serena, until he realizes the real love he has for her. At the end of the season, the Upper East Siders team up to banish Georgina from New York. Serena then leaves with Nate to the Hamptons, while Chuck abandons a heartbroken Blair. Dan reconciles with Vanessa and returns to his old life in Brooklyn. A disgraced Jenny departs Blair’s clique and earns an internship as a fashion designer in a company owned by Blair’s mother.


The Worst

Season 1 is actually pretty solid, and even the less great episodes have their moments – something I know can’t be said later on in the series. Even when plots make no sense, Gossip Girl is still kind of fun as long as you don’t try so hard to be invested or stress out over whats happening.

“The Handmaiden’s Tale”

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Dan is torn between two girls when his childhood friend, Vanessa, returns home and declares her feelings for him, just as he and Serena are trying to figure out what they mean to each other. At the infamous masked ball, Blair sends Nate on a scavenger hunt, but Nate is ultimately still distracted by his feelings for Serena. Although Blair makes it perfectly clear that outsiders are not welcome, a disguised Jenny and Dan sneak into the ball. Finally, Lily asks Rufus to accompany her to an Eleanor Waldorf event in order to make Bart Bass jealous.

I kind of hated Vanessa in this episode, though I like her well enough later on. These aren’t BAD episodes, they just aren’t as good.

“Hi, Society”

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Serena’s plan on not attending the annual Cotillion Ball is sidetracked when her grandmother CeCe persuades her to attend; Nate sees Blair’s new buoyant attitude and entrusts Chuck to find out the reason, in which Chuck tells Nate that she is having an affair with St. Jude’s alumni, Carter Baizen (guest stars Sebastian Stan), creating drama at the Ball. Blair finds out Chuck did this for personal gain and ends their affair, returning to Nate once more and consummating her love to him during a passionate night. Meanwhile, Jenny attends the ball despite it being on the same night as Alison’s art gallery opening.

This episode is a bit of a mess. But Sebastian Stan kind of makes up for it.


The Best

There are a lot of really great episodes in season one, even if watching more than about three in a row starts making me mad, its still a lot of fun.

“Poison Ivy”

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As the Upper East Side teens from Constance Billard and St. Jude’s prepare for a much-anticipated visit from the Ivy League representatives, Blair and Chuck uncover a scandalous secret about Serena that may not remain a secret much longer. Dan has his heart and future set on the coveted usher position for the Dartmouth rep, only to be beat out by Nate, who has no interest in the school despite pressure from his controlling father, The Captain. Meanwhile, Jenny bonds with Serena’s younger brother, Eric, and Rufus must swallow his pride and ask Lily for a favor to help his son, Dan.

This episode is really really fun. Also, Erik is great.

“Bad News Blair”

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Blair is thrilled when her mother, Eleanor, chooses her to be the new face of her clothing line. However, Blair’s happiness soon turns to feelings of betrayal and jealousy when Serena moves into the spotlight and Blair finds herself back in Serena’s shadow. Meanwhile, Serena and Dan are reminded once again that they come from two very different worlds, and Nate and Chuck indulge in a boys’ weekend to blow off steam after Ivy Week.

All about the characters and less about the drama. Finally some friendship focus.

“Victor, Victrola”

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After surviving the on-again/off-again nature of their new relationship, Serena and Dan finally acknowledge they are crazy about each other, despite their polar opposite worlds that constantly threaten to pull them apart. Chuck contemplates investing in a burlesque club in the hopes of making his hard-to-please father, Bart, proud of him. Nate confronts his father, The Captain, about the drugs he found in the house, but his father denies having a problem. Jenny discovers a secret her father, Rufus, and mother, Alison, have been keeping from her. Finally, Blair is once again devastated by Nate’s actions after Jenny reveals that Nate kissed her by accident thinking she was Serena. Blair has sex with Chuck, Nate’s best friend.

Prime Gossip Girl drama in the best way.

“Blair Waldorf Must Pie!”

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When Dan hears that Serena and her family are spending Thanksgiving alone at The Palace, he naively invites them to spend the holiday with his family, creating an uncomfortable situation for Rufus and Lily whose children are unaware of their complicated romantic history. Meanwhile, Blair’s emotions spiral out of control when she learns that her father isn’t coming home for Thanksgiving. It is here that hints are given that Blair is bulimic. Nate spends the holiday with his mom and dad, but their awkward dinner quickly goes from bad to worse.

This might be my favorite episode of the season.

“The Thin Line Between Chuck and Nate”

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Gossip Girl takes pleasure in reporting that Serena van der Woodsen was spotted buying pregnancy tests. Of course, on the Upper East Side, the truth is often even juicier and more scandalous than the gossip, and this time is no exception.

So much drama. So much fun. Nate deserves better, but I want the three of them to hurry up and be friends again because they are all great as friends.

“The Blair Bitch Project”

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Having been recently dethroned as “Queen Bee”, Blair hesitantly returns to school with the support of her BFF, Serena. Meanwhile, Serena struggles to adjust to her new living arrangements with her future step-brother, Chuck, while receiving disturbing packages from an unknown sender. Jenny needs something to wear to her birthday party and her drive to be popular hits an all-new time high when she does something illegal to fit in with her new Upper East Side friends.

I kind of hate Jenny, and she and Blair are hilarious here.

“Woman on the Verge”

As a result of Georgina revealing the true reason that Serena fled Manhattan for boarding school, Serena falls back into her old habits and Blair, Nate and Chuck must put their complicated feelings for each other aside to help their friend. Unfortunately, Serena is too ashamed to share the truth with Dan, leaving him only to assume the worst about his girlfriend. Rufus is thrilled when his band is invited to perform at a Rolling Stone-sponsored concert, but Lily is the last person on earth he expects to see at the performance, especially since her wedding rehearsal dinner is the same night.

Serena’s inability to talk to Dan and his stupidity with Georgina aggravates me, but everyone else in this episode is A+. I love to see Blair, Nate, and Chuck being friends. And Rufus and Lily are A+, I love their relationship. Georgina makes a great villain.


Overall

Look, I have no idea why, but I like Gossip Girl. Even when its immensely aggravating, its really fun and requires little attention to watch, unlike a lot of the action/sci-fi shows I prefer which require to much focus for me to handle during the school week. Kristen Bell as the voice of Gossip Girl is great. Rufus and Lily should get together. The episode Desperately Seeking Serena deserves an honorable mention, because Serena and Georgina annoyed me, but Blair and the SATs was gold.

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