Gossip Girl

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Jacob Clifton: A+ | Grade It Now!
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What New York Used To Be
talk to them? Don't. It's honestly very simple. We whine and cry about the ways our intimacies are mediated by technology, but seriously, it goes both ways. And all GG is doing here is squeezing a blister that absolutely must be squozen: None of this ever meant anything at all, beyond the person that you forged out of it. The part of your life where you're forced to figure out how to deal with other people has officially ended, and the final grade is just the rest of your life. There's not a permanent record, there's not a hall of evidence, there's not a grand divine book of demerits: there's just you. You're the only evidence.

Not that there aren't echoes, especially in the areas of our blindness. Rufus surprises Lily somewhere in a house somewhere and they have a brief conversation about their current grievances. He's pissed because she told the Waldorf-Roses that he's a romantic disappointment, and she's pissed because he is a romantic disappointment. She says... Basically everything I just said, which is that they've examined and pored over each other in a new way every week for the last twenty-five episodes (and twenty years!), their histories and their relationships and their differences and their samenesses, and he's still afraid, and she's still scary, and either you drop the bullshit and commit or you wait for everybody to be perfect. He's a romantic, she's a realist. And the thing about romantics is that they honestly don't think anybody but them really knows about love.

You get these boys who think love defines them, that the state of love is not only sustainable but the point, and maybe for them it is, and anybody who feels differently is not only heartless and clueless, but is also attacking their worldview simply by disagreeing. Because if we don't all agree that love is the most important thing, maybe it's not, and the world falls apart. And then you have Lily, who as a Rhodes woman knows precisely where to prioritize that fluttery love feeling, and has her own complicated relationship with it, but has told herself over and over that, rationally, you can't afford to overestimate that feeling. That this idealized irrational silly retard love is the shadow on the wall of the cave, and the real thing is gritty and scary. That truly wanting love is about the dumbest thing you could ever do, because real love is not that romantic: it rips you open and burns you alive, and it takes you apart and puts you back together, better. (Which try telling that to a Rufus, and you'll see a grown man cry, because he just wants the easy part.) But it's dangerous in either case, because the whole point of that feeling actually is letting it burn all the way through you.

The scary thing about loving Rufus -- and these are the only men I involve myself with, so take this with a grain of salt -- is that he lives so far into the future of possibility, of the perfection, he can see it so clearly, that you're afraid to move because disappointment hurts him so much more than other people. It's a betrayal, not a rerouting, if things don't go according to plan. And the scary thing about loving Lily is that she can close up faster than a motherfucker, because all it is is rerouting. She doesn't require perfection, but if things warp enough off the x-axis that it starts to suck, she can cut that cord faster and more brutally than the eye can follow.

(And, I think, the secret key here is that you can replace "Rufus" with "Blair" in the above paragraphs, and "Lily" with "Chuck," and it answers pretty much every question you, or they, could ever have about why it's so fucking hard. It's supposed to be, that's how you know you're alive.)

So to me, the definition of a relationship is in holding onto this particular livewire and letting it be both things at once: perfect and difficult at the same time. That's dynamic. Do it right and you keep changing yourselves and each other, forever and ever, and nobody gets cold and nobody gets hard and nobody gets settled, because the challenge is always there and it's always asking you to synthesize and transcend, to take a disagreement and work it out so that you can hit another plateau and another disagreement, until ... You are both superheroes, and then you fight crime. Which as a day-to-day war against stability isn't very romantic (or comforting) but you kind of asked for it by falling in love with Lily and/or with goddamn Rufus Humphrey.

Nate looks amazing! William Granderbilt agrees, as usual, and has a sort of disinterestedly prurient interest in Nate's talk about the Hamptons and the older woman ("Welcome to Washington!" he says, which actually makes less sense the more you think about it, like most of the dialogue), and then eventually kind of shocked by the actual prostitution that came about. I can't believe Nate left out the incest part. I mean, I know it didn't really involve him, but it was the most WTF thing about that whole deal, and would be just as damaging in the long run, due to being part of a cougar prostitution harem of boys. Chuck walks up looking for Blair, and Nate finally tells him that they broke up. Which you would think Chuck would have picked up on, when B was opening and closing her mouth like a codfish, but I don't really get these people this week. And if he didn't know that, what is he looking for her for? Maybe the GG thing.

So Vanessa's standing around the party with Dan, talking predictably about how shitty it is and how they should go get doughnuts at whatever cruddy place, and Serena -- this is brutal, this scene, but very funny -- comes up screeching about OMFGG and all this, and the terrible labels and the humanity of it all, and what will we do, and the sky is falling, and they just sort of... Make fun of her for caring, which as an adult watching the show is pretty satisfying if you don't consider the source. Vanessa literally walks away rolling her eyes in the middle of Serena's meltdown. It might be my favorite moment in the whole episode, because neither Dan or Serena notices her disappearing act, and all three of these things are beautifully in character.

Dan tries to talk her down, and explain about how high school is stupid, but he... I am sympathetic to them both, because they're both right, but he's more right, but for the wrong reasons. If he didn't tell himself every day for four years that GG was just stupid and for stupidheads, he would have killed himself. And yes, GG is stupid and GG is for stupidheads, and S needs to chill the eff out, but that's not where he's speaking from. Which is why he goes too far in the other direction, and says some hurtful things that are almost out of character but in a better-written episode would feel less out of character. He says they all need to move on, away from the backbiting and conniving BS, and she's like, "Sure, but these things are actually true and they were actually said. That's not a game." And he tries to get her to think outside that box and consider the fact that she's still taking part in an optional economy and that, as Serena vdDub, she can hold onto those relationships without necessarily hooking them up with the GG phenomenon.

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Gossip Girl

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