Yes, I admit it. I watched Gossip Girl. I sat through the unending circles of drama. I stared in awe at the opulence. I winced in pain from the never-ending lip gloss budget. I have been emasculated.
But I got over all of that. And it turns out there are a couple important lessons rippling through all the glitz and glamour.
Sticking To The Plan
Although Gossip Girl is chalked thick with dirty, underhanded scheming, there is one plan throughout the entire show which can serve people well today. I watched the final two or three seasons so I didn’t catch the original storyline. But I feel I inferred the gist of the story in the amount I watched.
Dan’s creation of the Gossip Girl website was solely to prove he, a normal Brooklyner (normal people are poor people in the eyes of the Upper East Siders), could be a part of the Upper East side gang. It’s a pitiful storyline really. Another one of those “I can do anything and be anything I want” plots that gets everybody’s heart pounding.
But the difference is that Dan sticks with his plan right from the onset of the show. When situations become dire and his closest friends bash the anonymous Gossip Girl, Dan remembers the goal of the website and maintains course to achieve his long-term goals.
This lesson should hit home. Perseverance is a trait many of the most successful people in the world have used to see their unique visions come to life. Battling the highs and lows of a long-term plan is what makes them so difficult to stick with.
Dan endured the repercussions of his tactics to gain acceptance, respect and power in a world he didn’t belong in. In the end — and this is what makes Hollywood Hollywood after all — Dan’s vision came to fruition. Whether our visions are hashed out in the same manner is the luck of the draw, but we would do well to emulate his goals.
In the second last episode of the final season, the macho Nate Archibald calls upon his dad to help bail him out of debt. During that conversation, Nate outlines his desire to keep his newspaper/magazine company afloat. Investing two years of time and an entire trust-fund into the company, Nate holds onto The Spectator with all his might.
This lesson seems to be a hot topic recently. Rather than sitting around and consuming the lives of others, Gossip Girl encourages us to create and improve something with our own two hands.
Obviously, funding for large projects like a magazine is far more than the average person can pull out of their pocket — Gossip Girl does not reflect the scarcity of money in any fashionable way. The consumption of cash in the show is borderline offensive and is no way realistic.
Disregarding cash and funding, the building, creating or designing of a product, like Nate does with The Spectator or how Blair discovers her design talents for Waldorf Designs, is very applicable for the consumptive society at hand today.
The last major lesson Gossip Girl extends is that of correct initial impressions. Serena makes a positive judgement of Dan while she is in high school. This positivity ends up in a romantic love that remains consistent throughout the show.
Frankly, had Serena just followed her gut, Gossip Girl could have been avoided entirely — which, for those of us with any sense of proper television, would have garnered praise. The entire show is a sinister spiral of tangled hair and splotchy makeup that wraps around the main point of the story. Every love story is full of surprises, but Serena’s simple gut feeling was right from the beginning, thereby rendering the climax of the story moot.
That gut feeling, like Serena’s, is often more right than wrong in real life. We can train our gut feelings to be more accurate by experiencing different scenarios. We can even sway our gut feelings by prior biases. Whichever you choose, gut feelings are the most efficient way to stop yourself from doing something poorly for an extended amount of time.
Initial impressions are often judgemental and inappropriate. But sometimes they hit the nail on the head. I believe Gossip Girl tries to tell us that our initial impression of someone is often more right than wrong.
Gossip Girl is the quintessential teenage television series. Love it or hate it, the schemes, drama, and robust elitism found in the show has some real world application. There are always portrayals of values, norms and mores in television shows and the three I have outlined are merely a skimming of the surface. It’s nice to see that three simple lessons can be so easily picked out, but that might be more a testament to the level of writing than it is to the actual depth of the show. Long story short, Gossip Girl touches on a few aspects, specifically for businesses, creation and perseverance, which gives credence to the otherwise scandalous show.