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TV Review: Gossip Girl – “The Ex-Files”

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I haven’t written about Gossip Girl for a while, but how could I help but comment on last Monday’s episode?

Without a doubt I’ve spent way too much time gathering evidence, but …

“The Ex-Files” was the single most evil, Machiavellian, low-down ugly episode of a teen soap in the history of the genre. What comes in second? Frankly, I have no idea. There are beheading videos out there that promise more hope for the world than this episode.

Beverly Hills 90210 is still the prototype for all this nonsense and it’s impossible not to compare “innocent” Dan and Jenny Humphrey to the Walsh twins of yesteryear, but nothing that bad really ever happened to Brandon and Brenda (well, Shannon Doherty got fired, but Brenda supposedly was still living the high life in England all that time).

On Beverly Hills 90210, the Walsh family transformed the lives of the shallow rich folk around them, they all became friends, and with much hi-jinx (albeit with a few drug problems) everyone basically lived happily ever after. To continue the metaphor, the last episode of Gossip Girl was essentially the equivalent of Steve, Kelly, and Dylan luring the Walsh twins into a fiery pit, roasting their carcasses, calmly cannibalizing them piece by piece, and then nonchalantly heading over to the Peach Pit for some after dinner pie.

Memo to Rufus Humphrey: If you at all care about your children, get them out of that school now!

Whoever thought going to Joe Clark’s gang-infested Eastside High would look so warm, cozy, and loving? Then again, the gangs in the inner city are apparently nothing compared to the ones in really upscale prep schools like this one.

“The Ex-Files” reminded me a lot of “Scott Tennerman Must Die,” the South Park episode where Eric Cartman literally has his rival's parents murdered and feeds them to his enemy, but that was a one-off of whimsy. It remains the only episode where Cartman triumphs, and despite Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s anarchist tendencies, even on South Park good usually triumphs somewhat over evil. Not so in the world of Gossip Girl; for the first time in my life I almost find myself agreeing with those nut balls that call the FCC every time something tawdry comes on my television set.

Here’s how tawdry this episode was. Consider poor Nate Archibald. His father is a fugitive from justice. He’s peddling himself out for sex to a duchess to support his family. The duchess, who apparently has the sex drive of a crazed orangutan, turns out in this episode to also be sleeping with her stepson, who just happens to be dating Nate’s ex-girlfriend, Blair.

What do I say to that compared to the rest of this episode? Yawn. That’s all I can muster for a plotline that probably would have had parents starting write-in campaigns across the country to get this show, supposedly aimed at teens, pulled off the air 15 years ago, but compared to what went on elsewhere, that part of the episode seemed like a Brady Bunch episode.

Queen Bee: Blair or Serena? No! It’s Chuck, Stupid!

Is it too late to re-film the second Star Wars trilogy and get Ed Westwick to play Anakin, because we’ve finally seen the face of ultimate evil and Chuck Bass is it! Chuck has seemed redeemable for nearly ten episodes now, but frilly purple suit and all, take my advice. If you need a hug and you find yourself standing between Chuck Bass and Darth Vader, run directly to Darth. I refuse to even call Darth’s religion the dark side anymore. Let’s call it the tan side, because truly only Chuck Bass knows the dark side, and it’s fueled with vengeance, misanthropy, and apparently enough cold hard cash to bail out the subprime banking fiasco at least three times over.

Here’s the gist. Dan and Serena broke up at the end of the previous episode. Why? Well, essentially because Dan is no longer the most self-righteous idiot in New York. He’s now the most self-righteous idiot in the entire world. On the first day of school, Dan and Serena must do their best to peacefully co-exist. Of course, they never really had a chance, but who could have thought it would have gone this badly?

Poor Serena, she really wanted to become a decent person. When Dan immediately finds a female version of himself, her competitive irons are fired, but she really wanted to be decent about it. Cue the insanely optimistic, albeit absurdly ridiculous, three-way date between Serena, Dan, and his new girl, Amanda. Now this had no chance of ending well, but with Chuck Bass in the background pulling the strings, what you had was a nuclear holocaust.

Serena tries to fight back by competing, but her heart isn’t really into it, and she eventually just completely lays it out on the line to Dan that she loved him deeply and that she’s been completely devastated. For a second Dan feels bad, but over in the corner Chuck is still scheming. Using the mini-Blairs as his storm troopers, Amanda's hair is burned off and Dan, blaming Serena, apparently for her proximity, lashes into his ex. Cue the John Williams score, because Serena has just gone to the dark side. See, George Lucas, that’s the way it’s really done!

But wait, it gets uglier than that. Amanda was being paid by Chuck to date Dan the entire time! Chuck isn’t Vader, Serena is; Chuck’s the Emperor and he needed an apprentice. Chuck orchestrated the entire thing so that Serena would retake her status as school Queen Bee.

Chuck essentially turned his reeling stepsister into a force of evil, all to get back at Blair’s indifference to his advances. Now, does Chuck want Blair back, is he just doing this to get her back? I have no idea, but whoever thought for a second that I’d be concerned about Blair? Blair was at her backstabbing best in this episode, but she now looks like Mussolini to Chuck’s Hitler. I’m not exaggerating!

Summary

Serena: The light went out in her heart. She returned to school, demoted Blair in a passive-aggressive revolution that took 30 seconds, and essentially let it be known that associating with anyone named Humphrey, especially the male one, was a crime punishable by something that would make being melted by acid seem pleasant. The future looks grim for anyone stupid enough to cross her.

Blair: Forget about losing your status, girl, run!

Dan: No friends – male or female – and you know what, even given the fact that his life was messed with by a master of evil, it’s hard to sympathize. Chuck played his holier than thou, self-righteous class bullshit for all it was worth and he deserves his exile. Dude, you were dating the hottest girl on the planet, and it wasn’t enough because … well, who knows why? All we can say is – IDIOT!

Jenny: No friends, at least she has her job – for now.

Nate: Poor dude. He keeps trying to be the nice guy and keeps sinking further into the abyss.

Vanessa: You can probably get Dan back now. When Blair says she’s working on it, she’s working on it!

Lily: You made your bed too – deal with it!

Rufus: I know you’re getting laid, but really dude, it’s time to move the kids to Minnesota.

The mini-Blairs: Before this episode they were sort of a benign evil presence; they are now practically an SS squad.

Chuck: Please, please, please never get angry with me.

Gossip Girl: I’m the last person alive, who wants to see shows rated, but … this show shouldn’t be seen by anyone under 40 and then only when accompanied by the Pope.

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About keithcrime

  • Laura

    I started watching the show online, and figured I’d give it a try in my free time (which I have a lot of).

    90210, which I started watching for nostalgic reasons, got a little to ‘high school’ for me this past week. They portrayed very common stereotypical rich kid problems such as backstabbing, taking favorites, drug use, parental abuse, divorce, losing your virginity to ‘the coolest guy in school’, and it just made me glad that I am no longer in high school and never have to go back.

    On the other hand, Gossip Girl was just too scary. Sure there was a bit of backstabbing here and there, but the situations were far more intense. Serena’s mom wanting to screw Dan’s dad even though she JUST got back from her honeymoon. The wrath of Blair and her posse on the new girl, the incestuous relationship of the Royalty, and you’re absolutely right about Chuck. Is it fair to want to compare him to Halloween’s Michael Myers?

  • brad laidman

    Michael Myers wouldn’t have a chance against Chuck :)