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Gossip Girl brings teen drama to NYC

Nicole Eggenberger | Monday, September 24, 2007

“The O.C.” has officially moved to New York. The high-scale drama, hot cast, fresh music and racy storylines are back in the C.W. series “Gossip Girl.”

The first of 13 episodes of “Gossip Girl” premiered Wednesday night at 9, and the series is already being touted as the best new show of the fall. The show’s motto – “You’re nobody until you’re talked about” – is true to its ratings. Based on the hit series of young-adult novels by Cecily von Ziegesar and created by the producers of “The O.C.,” “Gossip Girl” promised to be the new guilty pleasure for teens.

Drama swarms the lives of pristine prep-school teens on Upper East Side, and all of the inside dirt is revealed through the all-knowing narrator of the show, Gossip Girl (Kristen Bell). Gossip Girl’s identity is unknown, but she blogs the latest news on her Web site and texts vital information to the student body, keeping all the characters in the show connected. Gossiping, shopping and partying are what the young heartthrobs do best, giving past “O.C.” fans exactly what they’ve been longing for.

Black Lively plays the main character, Serena van der Woodsen. In the premiere, Serena returns to Manhattan from boarding school after exiling herself from her friends for unknown reasons – a move that created chaos in the otherwise privileged hotties’ lives. Serena’s “best friend,” Blair Waldorf (Leighton Meester), hates that Serena has returned, and tries everything she can to keep her distance. Part of her anger comes from the fact that her studly longtime boyfriend, Nate (Chace Crawford), has an obvious attraction for and a secret past with Serena.

Adding to the complex circle is the “bad boy” of the bunch, Nate’s friend Chuck (Ed Westwick), who scams on girls with his wealth and power and pushes Nate to do the same. The softer characters of the show are Dan (Penn Badgley) and his younger sister Jenny (Taylor Momsen), middle-class outsiders who only attend the prep school due to their father Rufus’s (Matthew Settle) insistence on a high-class education.

Keeping the same style as “The O.C.,” “Gossip Girl” includes the scandalous storylines of the parents. Rufus has a history with Serena’s mom, Lily (Kelly Rutherford), potentially complicating the growing friendship between Serena and Dan.

If the drama-packed plots aren’t enough to entertain, the catchy, club-like music and high fashion wardrobe are enough to keep fans talking. Some of the music airing in the first episode included: “What Goes Around…Comes Around” by Justin Timberlake, “The Way I Are” by Timbaland, “Hang me up to Dry” by Cold War Kids, “If It’s Lovin’ That You Want” by Rihanna and others. Not unlike a music video, the stars are dressed in sexy school uniforms and extravagant party dresses and suits. The complex world of the wealthy Upper East Siders demands high fashion, glamorous teens with perfect complexions and supermodel bodies.

Of course “Gossip Girl,” like “The O.C.,” has unrealistic qualities that frustrate some viewers. One slight problem is that the high school prep students are shown at bars drinking martinis. The point of the soap opera-like show, though, is to entertain, and giving Serena a slight drinking problem does just that. Here, reality is not nearly as exciting as fantasy.

The gobs of gossip revealed in episode one of “Gossip Girl” leaves many questions unanswered. Why did Serena return to from boarding school? Why did she leave in the first place? Will Blair get revenge on Serena for having a past with Nate? Will Serena choose Dan, or will Nate get in the way?

“You know you love me. XOXO, Gossip Girl.”