Gossip Girl "Where the Vile Things Are" Review: Forever Young (and Stupid)

By Cory Barker

Nov 20, 2012

Gossip Girl S6E06: “Where the Vile Things Are”

I’ve never been one of those people who can watch videos of car crashes, people falling down hard, or whatever else is on the internet in video form that does not feature kittens. I just can’t do it. But I’m beginning to realize that I get my healthy dose of schadenfreude from really bad television. And perhaps no other show currently delivers as many unintentional pleasures as Gossip Girl, which has, in its final season, gone completely and utterly off the rails. If this week's episode is any indication, we are in for some truly miserable hours before 2012 and Gossip Girl ends. I can’t wait! Let’s break down "Where the Vile Things Are," shall we?

1. Blair, forever in high school

Even in this show's down seasons—so, most of its run—Blair Waldorf has been entertaining, compelling, and Gossip Girl's biggest asset as far as a likable, worthy protagonist is concerned. But in this final season, the writers have systematically destroyed most of the redeemable parts of Blair as a character. She's spent five episodes ruining her mother’s company—in a position that she never deserved to begin with—and making one stupid, childish, regressive decision after another. That was bad enough.

Then came “Where the Vile Things Are” with a story that legitimately tried to make this season's dull storytelling and high school references purposeful and part of some larger “arc.” Eleanor asked Blair to make good with Nelly Yuki in hopes of obtaining some good press for the designs, and the younger Waldorf refused because she is shockingly and stupidly petulant, like a toddler who put cheese in the DVD player and keeps blaming it on someone else. Blair blamed all of her problems on Dan and his article about her, got chewed out, and then apologized to her mother and resigned, only to ultimately decide that while she can’t be at the head of a major fashion design outfit (because, duh), she can make a damn good line inspired by her high school uniform.

Okay. I’m willing to give the show a modicum of credit for making all the references to Blair’s reign of power/terror in high school resonant and meaningful, in only the way that Gossip Girl can. However, it is still very troubling that Blair didn’t learn a single thing. Not from Nelly. Not from her mother. And probably not even from Dan. Instead of admitting that she was immature and misguided, she just decided to embrace the time period when she could be immature and misguided with no consequences. The show copped out in the guise of some sort of character development. So if you’re keeping track at home, Gossip Girl gave Blair a super-powerful position solely so she could ruin the company, act like a fool for weeks, and realize that she couldn’t lead anyway and would be better off being inspired by a younger version of herself.

Well, I guess that makes sense, considering Season 1 Blair was smarter, stronger and more admirable than this version.

2. Serena, forever mentally troubled

I know that we’ve seen Serena deal with various bouts of substance abuse throughout the show’s six seasons on the air, but her actions suggest much deeper and more terrifying psychological scarring. After morphing into the World’s Worst Person last season, Serena overdosed and ran away for the summer, only to trick herself into thinking that she was happy with Steven, a.k.a. the guy who had sex with her mom and also a.k.a. the guy who she forgot to share any real information with. Recall that just last week, Serena was gushing over the proposition of getting engaged to Steven, running social events, and generally taking her rightful throne atop Manhattan’s social scene. After one released sex tape (a sex tape that she filmed and refused to delete, again, because she’s mentally broken), one dinner, and one non-intimate sleepover, Serena is ready to fall back into the arms of Dan, the man who she's spent years trying to get over. Or get back. Maybe both at the same time. This show is a little sloppy.

And then, right after she talks about how great she feels to be back in Dan’s orbit, she lets one single, empty conversation with jaded and disenchanted Nate immediately turn her against Dan, releasing a spew of vitriol only reserved for true hatred. But that’s okay, because they talked it out in the elevator and Serena made the “poignant” point that it’s the ones you know the most about who you can hurt the most. Now she’s ready to XOXO with Lonely Boy like it’s 2007 all over again.

Shipper allegiances aside—because it’s clear that Dan and Serena are going to end up together in some form and there’s no reason to pretend like it’s not happening—this is still staggeringly stupid. Serena is, without a doubt, one of the most poorly written lead characters in recent television history. Gossip Girl is never willing to take her off the stupid pedestal it's had her on for too long, resulting in constant waffling, stupid decisions, a lack of self-awareness and a lot of generally unadmirable scenes. If this show ends with Serena anywhere but a mental health facility, it’s a failure. But we already knew that.

3. Dan, forever impotent

Oh, but Serena’s not the only one to throw shade at in this newly rekindled romance. In that horribly contrived elevator scene where the writers decided to obliterate a few seasons' worth of half-assed character development, Dan went ahead and admitted that part of the reason he explored a relationship with Blair was that he was just afraid of what would happen if he acknowledged and/or explored his feelings for Serena again. Not to pull a Blair from last week and let hyperbole get the best of me, but Dan, that’s literally the worst thing you’ve ever said.

I can take—and even enjoy—sanctimonious and pretentious Dan. I can take egomaniacal “I just published in Vanity Fair so I’m going to DM every waify blonde I see at this salon” Dan. What I can’t take is unbelievably stupid, full-of-bullshit Dan.

Oh, and another thing: I like how Dan’s Vanity Fair pieces have resulted in a whole lot of nothing. The show spent one episode discussing the consequences of how the stories could affect certain characters (like Serena), but when his piece about Blair came out, meh, it was just a plot device to get Blair to pout a little more. Could this show have lesser consequences?

4. Everyone else, forever zzzzzz

Seriously. Chuck Bass Revenge Tour 2012 is a drab affair. Nate loves the new Windows Phone. Rufus, Lily, and Ivy make for the worst love triangle not involving Jenny or Vanessa ever. What. Ever.

5. This show, forever stuck

When TV series return to themes and places from their starting points, it’s usually to show how far characters have come since their earlier days. This is an especially powerful strategy for high school shows, when the audience already expects a certain number of GROWN UP stories and is therefore ready and willing to be proud of characters for being adults.

Gossip Girl doesn’t care about those familiar tropes. Gossip Girl is a renegade. Gossip Girl thinks that repeatedly referring to high school, reverting to relationships from high school, and performing secret summertime lobotomies that make all the characters act like they’re wet-behind-the-ears freshman is how TV series recall those old themes and places. At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if Serena, Blair, and Dan all become teachers at their respective high schools, or if turns out that they were all in some traumatic event during junior year and now they’re stuck in this horrible purgatory where they have to act out high school drama until the end of time.

I know that we watch these kinds of shows for things like the relationship drama or the fashion, but just because Gossip Girl started as a show set in high school doesn’t mean it has to keep its characters trapped in that mindset.

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  • darcicomplex Dec 07, 2012

    I love Blair's mom, she's perfectly crazy, in fact it's very convincing that a woman like that would've raised someone like Blair. Margaret Colin really does a great job with her character, I'd like to see her used more.

    Another note - I loved that they used "Stay" by MNDR (somewhat ironically) during the scene when Ivy goes through the contents of an envelope while talking on the phone, and we realize Ivy’s plans for the future. However, I hate how the Rufus and Ivy angle played out and wonder what the writers were thinking...urgh.

  • mmmshuddup Nov 30, 2012

    I cannot believe the writers actually made Dan forgive Serena. That is just disgusting! If this is the filth they expect us to take with no payoff then maybe this show really SHOULD end.. Seriously, Serena has been the only character I have consistently hated since around the end of season 1.. She has ruined so many things and so many lives..and the Blair/Dan thing was the best thing to happen to this show as far as new and exciting since..well..season 1. She ruined everything about that and again and again..the gift that keeps on giving. And after all THAT, Dan is going to not only forgive her but hook up with her too!? UGHHHH I'm very angry.

  • isparkle Nov 27, 2012

    I totally agree with you. This is just getting ridiculous! I have never taken this show too seriously, but I always found a few things that I loved about it. Now, the only reason i'm still watching is for the clothes! The whole Rufus/Ivy thing makes my skin crawl. It's not even in the realm of possibility that he would do something like this, after the way he has been portrayed for many years. It's just silly. When I heard I it was ending, I was sad, but now that I've seen this season, it's probably a good thing!

  • aliSuz Nov 24, 2012

    I cannot wait for this show to be over. That's basically all I have to say about this mess.

  • MightyMad Nov 22, 2012

    Reading this article reminded me why I stop watching this show years ago.

    Turns out to have been a pretty damn good decision.

  • humdrum Nov 22, 2012

    does anyone actually watch this show for the emotional depth of the characters or the plotlines? really, the whole reason why anyone follows gossip girl is because they feel attached to the characters, they like their clothing, or they just want to see more chuck/blair scenes. at least, that is how i feel.

  • Devon39219 Nov 21, 2012

    I just.. here we go again. Blair was the worst, and is still the worst in this season. Like you point out Cory, in season 1 she was better faster stronger. I don't mind Ivy's getting back at Lily, that should be interesting to see if she could really devastate her. Well they devastate their own lives plenty anyhow. Nate and his 'atom-bomb in a briefcase'- scene was just really, really cute. How can someone with one tenth of a brain run the Spectator? He can't. That's why the Spectator's going down. At least they got that part right.
    Dan, yeah maybe in the beginning of this show, I cared. But last seasons, not so much. Chuck and his revenge, I think he needs some lessons from Emily Thorne. Because he's just failing miserably. Like everyone in this show really. STILL a couple of more episodes (too much) to go... must.. use.. powers.. to.. withstand.... the.. horror.. of.. this... show.

  • QMargo Nov 21, 2012

    And the worst part is the promo for next week has Chuck telling Blair they can't be together and I swear the moment I saw that I could see millions of other people eye-rolling with me at the same time....ugh, this show!

  • TigersGoddess Nov 21, 2012

    Think I'm gonna strain a muscle with the amount of eye rolling I do watching this show, I'm amazed I didn't when the elevator stopped with Dan and Serena in it (I mean come on writers, seriously?). I really don't know why I'm still watching.

  • Photo_recap_fan Nov 21, 2012

    I know a spoiler about Dan/Serena.I don't know if I should post it,so let's just say that Dan is still a douchebag.

  • CecilieLarsen Nov 20, 2012

    wow, you really make me not want to see this episode!

  • Devon39219 Nov 21, 2012

    Hah, I almost read the review before I watched the episode. Otherwise I wouldn't have watched it either. But really, at least this season is consistent with its horribly disastrous episodes. That's the only plus I can think of. At least we know what to expect.

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