By Loisa Fenichell
Gossip Girl, which aired on the CW network from September 19th, 2007 to December 17th, 2012, is a television show based on Cecily Von Ziegasar’s book series of the same name. It follows the lives of Manhattan’s elite: Serena van der Woodsen (Blake Lively), Blair Waldorf (Leighton Meester), Chuck Bass (Ed Westwick), Dan Humphrey (Penn Badgley), and Nate Archibald (Chace Crawford). The characters argue; they sleep with one another; they abuse their parents’ money. They come off as archetypes: Serena is perfect; Blair is insecure and jealous; Chuck is an asshole; Dan is a poor, aspiring writer; Nate is hot. As the show continues, however, viewers learn that each character is so much more than this: e.g., Serena has also struggled with alcohol and drug addictions; Blair’s relationships with her parents are terrible, so is Chuck’s; Dan actually lives in a tastefully decorated loft in Brooklyn; Nate…well, Nate mostly is the hot one, but that’s besides the point.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this show lately as I do my best to ignite in my boyfriend the zeal I felt for the show when it first aired. My goal is for the two of us to watch all six seasons (a second time for me) together. As my boyfriend so eloquently and accurately put it, “It’s mad basic; the acting is trash; but it’s addictive.” Indeed, the television show has garnered many fans. I was unable to find the Gossip Girl official website, but I was able to find an article titled, “I Based My Entire Life on ‘Gossip Girl’ and I Don’t Regret It,” in which the author, Hannah, writes about having attended NYU simply because Blair did the same. In other words, the show’s acting may be “trash,” but it’s influence is tremendous, going so far as to dictate where one ought to apply to school; it is, again, addictive; there’s something for everybody…including the intellectual.
While there is admittedly little online to back up my following theory, I do feel that I’ve had enough experience with both the show and with F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Beautiful and Damned to confidently say that Gossip Girl is not only based on the book series by Cecily Von Ziegasar, it is also a contemporary rendition of the poetically written Fitzgerald novel first published in 1922. Why?
Perhaps the simplest reason is that, as aforementioned, Gossip Girl revolves around Manhattan’s elite, and so does The Beautiful and Damned. A more specific reason, however, is that in the 22nd episode of the show’s fourth season, it is mentioned that Serena spots a man reading her favorite book: The Beautiful and Damned. Furthermore, in the last episode (major spoiler alert!) it is revealed that the show’s narrator – the Gossip Girl – is none other than Dan Humphrey. Dan Humphrey, as aforementioned, is a young, aspiring writer who decides to pen a novel based on his circle of friends. This may not mean too much, but guess who else was a young, aspiring writer penning novels based upon his circle of elite friends? F. Scott Fitzgerald. Moreover, Humphrey, as with Fitzgerald, always felt like an outsider looking into this psychologically intense world of luxury. The similarities between the real life Fitzgerald and the fictional Humphrey seem, to me, beyond coincidental. Humphrey even says, in the show’s last episode, that the twisted world into which he’d been thrust reminded him of a Fitzgerald novel. Which one? Why, The Beautiful and Damned, of course.