I’m glad Gossip Girl was pulled off the air
With two female protagonists, it hardly did anything for girls
Growing up, Blair Waldorf was an icon to me. She represented everything I wanted to be: ladylike, feminine, intelligent and beautiful; unlike flighty Serena who showed little effort to achieve what she wanted, shifting her attention from one male suitor to the next. Blair worked hard for everything she achieved despite her manipulative and conniving attitude.
After a while, I stopped watching the show consistently. It got bland after the whole ‘Chuck and Blair’ story had been pulled in so many different directions. The storylines had gone stale, and the characters had become bland. How many cocktail parties do these people go to? It had no resemblance to my real-life, and I found nothing relatable anymore.
It wasn’t until a few weeks ago when I started re-watching Gossip Girl, eager to indulge my nostalgia when I realized how right I was to abandon my past obsession. While the show is certainly entertaining, it’s mean-spirited and downright dangerous. It encourages bullying in almost every form: emotional abuse, cyberbullying, and just plain cruelty. Here are a few reasons why I’m glad Gossip Girl was pulled off the air.
Blair is mean
“You have to be cold to be queen,” Blair once said.
While it is ideal to have a protagonist who is strong and possesses a no-nonsense mentality, Blair does so with a temperament fit for an ultimate “mean girl.” She publicly accuses her best friend of drug addiction, harasses her teacher for giving her a bad grade, and instead of depending on her work ethic to achieve what she wants, feels the need to squirm and lie to get what she wants.
She does this with clever comebacks, an icy cold stare, and little sympathy for anyone except her and those outside of her small, elite circle.
I naively thought this was cool in 8th grade, but I, and any other self-respecting woman who hopes to succeed, should never use these tactics to achieve anything. In reality, copying Blair would only mean being reported for harassment, yet Blair is mostly rewarded for her actions, rarely seeming to repent for her exploitative ways.
The toxic relationship between Blair and Chuck
I always rooted for ‘Chair.’ Ever since they first made out in the limo, I thought their relationship was sexy. Now, after graduating college and experiencing more maturity, the only two words I can think of to describe their romance is “emotionally abusive.”
Chuck once compared Blair to a horse. He tricks her into almost having sex with him, sells her to his uncle, and cheats on her with one of Blair’s sworn enemies.
“I don’t want you anymore,” he tells her in one episode.
They also engage in an on/off relationship that no one can describe as healthy. While conflict makes for great entertainment, girls should be presented with relationships that are interesting or funny. Sexy is totally fine too, but there are ways to make ‘sexy’ relationships without glamorizing toxicity.
What is also disappointing is that Blair is always portrayed to be a strong, independent woman, but Chuck is her kryptonite. She can’t live without him. What does it show young girls when a self-sufficient, powerful woman relentlessly returns to the same man who abuses her over and over again? Whether we love Gossip Girl or not, Blair and Chuck’s relationship is a textbook case of emotional neglect.
An emphasis on superficiality
Almost every episode focuses on glamorous clothes, cocktail parties or a new romantic relationship. Sometimes, the show focuses on the character’s ambitions, but again, all it talks about is the manipulation behind achieving what they want.
Why couldn’t the show focus more on Blair’s rise to becoming a powerful magazine editor or even Serena’s career ambitions? It is only in Season 5 that we actually see Serena become more serious about her goals, rather than her dating life. There can be a lot of interesting complexity that happens when powerful Upper East Side women climb their way to the top. The show could have talked about the politics, the understated sexism happening in the workplace, or the work/life balance so many women are conflicted with in today’s increasingly feminist society.
It hardly did anything empowering for girls
What is most disappointing about Gossip Girl is that with two strong and beautiful female protagonists, it hardly did anything empowering for girls. It focused on the frivolous: money, status, fashion or lust and hardly touched on things that could have been more resonating.
As we continue to scrutinize or wonder about the entertainment being presented to young girls, let’s learn from what was popular in the past. Let’s learn from those mistakes in order to improve and build on the future.
In other words, as Dan (Gossip Girl, himself) once said in the final episode: “Gossip Girl is dead.” Let’s keep it that way.