After six years of WTFs, OMGs, and a slew of unintentional LOLs, we'll be saying goodbye to Gossip Girl this season. Ten more episodes and this generation’s defining teen drama will bid us adieu. Although I've had a tumultuous relationship with the show over the years (not unlike Chuck and Blair, though I don’t recall being traded for a hotel), the last few seasons have featured more good than bad... so I'm (mostly) excited to see how this one ends. Here are some of the things on my personal wishlist for the final season, and I hope you’ll share yours in the comments.
Or, to put it another way: Give Chace Crawford’s Nate something valuable to do. Despite its long tenure on the air and all the hotspots the characters travel to, Gossip Girl’s world is pretty small. And yet, the show too often makes it smaller by focusing on the messy love connections between Blair, Serena, Chuck, and Dan. While I totally understand that those characters are the driving forces, Nate has been stuck in one awful story after another, basically since Season 2. The good news is that his search for Gossip Girl is actually interesting.
And now that Bart is back, Rufus and Lily’s broken marriage should provide Kelly Rutherford and Matthew Settle some quality material to work with. (It will probably also allow them to re-mine some of the story territory from the earlier seasons with a new spin, which could work).
The one thing that’s always bothered me about Gossip Girl is that it never really feels like the drama matters. The characters always get over grudges—at least temporarily—and nothing has really ever changed that much. In the final season, with characters moving further into adulthood (though it’s not like they ever finished college or acted like real kids anyway), it would be nice for certain events to have an impact on these people. I applaud the show for never killing off any major young character and I wouldn’t suggest it now, but this is the final season. Give it some finality. Blair and Serena can’t keep sprinting up to the precipice of never being friends again, only to begrudgingly kiss and make up. Chuck and Blair’s erratic—some would say unhealthy—relationship needs to either stick or be completely blown up for good. No more half measures.
This point somewhat contradicts the last one, but Gossip Girl has become rather stuffy and stiff over the years. That happens to soaps like this because writers feel like they have to keep topping themselves by ramping up the melodrama, leading to an evaporation of the humor. While Gossip Girl has never been overly hilarious, the early seasons had a great sense of self-reflexivity about them. The show went from went from reinforcing and occasionally poking at the teen soap tropes to fully embracing said tropes.
Honestly, much of this stems from characters like Blair and Dan being stuck in dramatic love triangles. Those stories, while compelling in their own right, dried out some of Blair’s fire and turned Dan from a sarcastic outsider into a fraudulent, hypocritical insider. Unsurprisingly, the awkward courtship between those two rekindled their—and the show’s—comedic foundations.
This show has always done a fine job of casually discussing the influence of contemporary social media and celebrity culture, allowing the “character” of Gossip Girl to have a much longer lifespan than I ever imagined she would. In fact, I’ve greatly enjoyed the show’s recent attempts to make GG a bigger force in the story (yes, even that weird period where “she” was, like, on vacation and Georgina took over).
So I think the show should explore that story more—Gossip Girl is just as much a core character as anyone else on the show, right?—and eventually reveal "her" identity. I don’t know where that story could go, and it might end up being terrible, but GG’s always been a big part of the show, “she” deserves a meaty story at the end of it.
But with that said, if Gossip Girl reveals that GG was actually one of the main characters all along—or worse, that she was like Vanessa or something—I’ll be substantially disappointed. Even in the unbelievable reality that these characters inhabit, there’s no diegetic way that the writers can convince me that GG was actually Chuck (or whomever) all along. Just don’t do it. There have been enough swerves and hollow betrayals.
I’m all for celebrating the characters and the world in the final season but sometimes, trying to serve too masters doesn’t necessarily work out for the best (sorry, Lost). While little callbacks and an occasional character return are both fine, Gossip Girl needs to focus on giving the core characters the send-offs they deserve.
On a related note, I would personally love it if the show never, ever flashed into the future in the finale. Josh Schwartz’s O.C. finale mostly got away with it, almost solely on the charm of the cast. But other shows, like Dawson’s Creek, had somewhat silly finales that spent too much time constructing false drama in “the future” that the audience knew was going to be solved anyway. Just let the story be the story, and let it end.
Everyone has their favorite character or allegiance, but it’s become pretty clear that this is Blair’s story in a lot of ways. It was her wedding in the 100th episode, it was her multiple love triangles that dominated much of the last two seasons, and frankly, she’s the more interesting of the two female leads.
But a big reason for Blair’s prominence in the story is that the writers have struggled to define who Serena is. She has always been a giant mess and in the early going, it seemed like her hyper-earnest demeanor and lack of self-awareness was going to turn her into an updated, more attractive version of Marissa Cooper. Yet in more recent seasons, and especially at the tail-end of last season, Gossip Girl allowed her to recognize and then embrace the truth: She’s kind of the worst. She’s just as manipulative and jealousy-driven as Blair, if not more, but regularly refuses to admit it. While her long-con against Blair might have gotten busted up in the finale, it was pretty cool to watch it unfold.
Nevertheless, the show has, at times, keyed in on these traits only to return to the “Serena is the important It-Girl” well. In the final season, the writers really need to make a choice: Does Serena admit her issues and really work to become Not the Worst, or does she double-down and embrace villainy? I’d love to see the latter happen just because it’s different, but I’ll happily accept the former. Again, the show should take a stand and stick with it.
Okay, I have one more biggie on my wish list that I’d like to share with you folks but I’m warning you right now that it is going to be controversial to a big portion of the audience. I wanted you to be prepared.
Here it comes.
Listen, I get it. People love the Chair. The show often suggests that it also loves the Chair. We’ve been told over and over about how they are this epic romance, destined to find one another time after disastrous time. But after six years and countless occasions of Chuck and Blair severely mistreating and damn-near harming one another, it’s time to move on. There’s a difference between not being able to let go of your first love and a pathological insistence on making yourself miserable by being with someone.
I don’t care if it’s Dan or Nate (LOL), someone new, or no one at all. But Blair needs to be with someone who hasn’t traded her for a building, nearly physically assaulted her, and psychologically tormented her. I’m sorry, but choosing Chuck isn’t a vote for epic love. It’s a cry for help.