OMG the hills are totally alive with the sound of texting when bad girl Serena van der Woodsen comes back to the Upper East Side after a year at boarding school. Nobody knows why she left, or why she's back, but everybody's reading about it on dishy blog GossipGirl.net. Those particularly interested in the news include Serena's ex-BFF Blair Waldorf, her BF Nate Archibald, and invisible poet and poor person Dan Humphrey. Blair immediately tries to cash in her V card with Nate on hearing the news, but Serena stops by just long enough to interrupt their love connection; turns out N has a bit of a thing for S. Not to mention reefer LOL.
After a seriously tense showdown at the Met, S and B talk it out. Serena can't tell Blair why she's back and challenging her popularity buzz, but she does apologize for just leaving like that. Everything seems to be going okay between them, and then here's why Serena's come back: her younger brother Eric tried to off himself, and is now being hidden away in the hospital by their mom. Local sleaze Chuck Bass, convinced Serena's spots haven't changed, tries forcibly to get some action, reminding her that he was a witness to S and Nate's giant hookup right before she left -- just as N's admitting their secret to Blair, who now has three problems with S.
Serena's so not invited to Blair's Kiss On The Lips party, but that's okay: she dropped a glass slipper, in the form of a Sidekick, while escaping Chuck's predations. Retrieving it, she makes a date with Dan to get away from the stress of her mom, KOTL, and the rest of it; she and Eric also make the acquaintance of Dan's little sister Jenny. Lily (Serena's mom) and Rufus (Dan's rocker dad) have a romantic history, so they get weird together about the impending date. Which is totally fun and sweet, until Serena and Dan are summoned to KOTL anyway: Chuck's newest victim is little Jenny Humphrey. They rescue her dramatically and bounce for the night, having thrown like the entire world into a tizzy. Blair puts into motion a takedown plan involving both the black ops of Chuck and the lateral attack of befriending Jenny, but between the multiple rape attempts, constant drinking, and couture everything, Serena's too tired to care. Welcome home, S!
"Young Folks" by Peter Bjorn & John -- a song so over-licensed it now plays whenever I send an email, receive an email, am approached by strangers, see a blue or green car, or think about what shoes to wear today -- plays over Serena van der Woodsen's beautiful face as she stares out the train window, heading toward Grand Central, and more NYC porn than you can shake a stick at. Provided it is an inexpensive stick. The weirdest thing about this song is that I still love it, after what, like a year now? That's a good song right there, like "Hey Ya." Does anybody hate this song? Or "Hey Ya"? I might hate "Hey Ya," now that I'm saying that. I don't want to find out. Speaking of sounds that never fail to thrill, check out Kristen Bell as the eponymous Gossip Girl, the oft-heard (perhaps slightly too oft, in the pilot at least) but never-seen narrator of the action. The conceit is that in the heightened reality of the show, our characters are like royalty, and their every move is reported upon by this blogger who is all in with them, but is never identified. This shouldn't make the jump from the books to the show, because it's kind of intrusive, but I still like it because of the way KB fully relishes the saucy, ridiculous lines, spreading them out like sexy, creepy pâté on this, like, brioche of comedic boredom. It's brilliant, the only actual way to do it without wanting to kill yourself, and it takes what should be the worst thing about the show, and makes it maybe the best and craziest thing about the show. Out of an infinity of options, because the show is crazy, vide:
Hey Upper East Siders, Gossip Girl here, and I have the biggest news ever. One of my many sources, melanie91, sends us this... Spotted at Grand Central, bags in hand? Serena van der Woodsen. Was it only a year ago our It Girl mysteriously disappeared for "boarding school"? And just as suddenly, she's back. Don't believe me? See for yourselves. Lucky for us, melanie91 sent proof. Thanks for the photo, mel!"
Okay, nuts, right? She's like Dowd and Tina Brown trying to like make an incisive satirical example of Carrie Bradshaw, and failing. And meanwhile what we're seeing is this girl, melanie91, spotting Serena van der Woodsen who mysteriously disappeared for boarding school a year ago, and has now come back, and then melanie91 snaps a quick photo and emails it to GossipGirl.net, and that's how it goes. So, I'm not a huge fan of being told what I'm looking at, but I think the point here is that this is the gossip site of record for the teens of the UES, and there's actually not a more efficient way to get that across than to show the people constantly checking it and having their Blackberries go off every five seconds. Serena van der Woodsen is played by Blake Lively, last seen in a movie about these Pants that apparently Travel. I never really...that sounds scary to me. Pants gone rogue. But apparently people loved that movie, which was also based on books. YA horror was never my thing, except for Cormier.
Dan Humphrey is played by this Penn Badgley person everybody's heard of before, who was in a show called Do Over and another one with that awful Oliver Hudson, and another one called The Bedford Diaries. He was also in John Tucker Must Die, which is really good, but I don't remember him in it. He looks like... Oh, gross. I just remembered him in John Tucker. Anyway, he looks like my best friend's cousin Jake, but since I'm the only person who doesn't know who the hell this person is, that doesn't really help either of us: he looks like Penn Badgley, who like almost every person on this show has a name only slightly more ridiculous in real life than that of the character he plays.