Movies & TV Shows

Gossip Girl Stars Reflect On The Strangest Parts Of The Teen Show

Leighton Meester and Penn Badgley, who played Blair Waldorf and Dan Humphrey on Gossip Girl, poke fun at the teen show’s strange tropes.

Gossip Girl stars Leighton Meester and Penn Badgley poke fun at the show’s strange, unrealistic tropes. Premiering on The CW in 2007, and based on the books by Cecily von Ziegesar of the same name, Gossip Girl was an instant hit. A decade after the teen drama went off the air, it lives on through a recent HBO Max reboot. Gossip Girl is also remembered for its fashion, complicated relationships, and the often dizzying drama that engulfed the characters in any given episode.

Gossip Girl also has a legacy of making stars out of its main cast, including Leighton Meester and Penn Badgley, who portrayed Blair Waldorf and Dan Humphrey, respectively. Dan and Blair would go on to be involved in one of the show’s more lighthearted and well-received storylines in its later seasons, as they shifted from ‘frenemies’ to a romantic relationship. More often, however, Gossip Girl leaned heavily into scandals and salaciousness, cleverly using its initial controversy as part of the marketing campaign. Ultimately, viewers were both shocked and somewhat confused when Padgley’s character, Dan, was revealed to be the titular gossip in the show’s final episode.


Related: How I Met Your Father’s Leighton Meester Casting Subverts Her Famous Role

Appearing on the Podcrushed podcast, which is co-hosted by Nava Kavelin, Sophie Ansari, and Badgley, Meester reunited with her Gossip Girl co-star. Discussing their time on Gossip Girl, Meester talked about how she found the show’s sex scenes to be troubling in how they set unrealistic expectations for young viewers. Badgley agreed, also mocking the frequent underage drinking that tended to go unchallenged. Meester and Badgley’s quotes have been transcribed below.

MEESTER: I’m 20 years old at the time, doing scenes of not just, like, having like sex or like, you know, sexual–like, fantasy stuff. And then like, in a bed with someone or whatever. We were 20. So whoever was looking at it, certainly girls that were actually 16, I was playing a 16-year-old. They’re watching it thinking that is what a 16-year-old looks like; right now I’m watching a 16-year-old have sex and watching a 16-year-old in lingerie and their body. But actually, it’s not a 16-year-old. It’s a 20-year-old, but my brain is being told that it’s a 16-year-old. So that like kind of messes with you, too.

BADGLEY: To me, this is what I mean. It’s like if we actually put 15 and 16-year-olds in these teen shows and movies that we make, we’d all be like, what the–? You know, it wouldn’t be funny, wouldn’t be sexy. But then we put in people who look like us. And you know, we have to like shave twice a day already. And you know, it’s just not fair to anybody. Yeah, you know, it’s just… it’s not.

MEESTER: And walking into bars ordering dirty martinis and not having any issues with that. Being like… ‘it’s my 15th birthday.’

BADGLEY: It’s like James Bond. Like, ‘I’ll have a Scotch. I killed a man’.

Chuck and Blair hold hands in Gossip Girl

The elements that Badgley and Meester discuss in their comments are hardly confined to a previous era. They continue in HBO’s Gossip Girl reboot, which sees a girl in her early teens being offered a drink in its earliest episodes. The teens of the reboot can also be surprisingly world-weary for their age and level of privilege, and couples often behave like married pairs instead of those in a high school relationship. The new version of Gossip Girl also continues a storyline from its original series, in which a teacher has a sexual relationship with a student. While the reboot attempts to condemn this behavior, as in the original Gossip Girl, there are also many scenes that appear to eroticize and glamorize this problematic relationship.

Badgley and Meester’s comments are insightful ones. Despite being central stars of the hit teen drama, the actors are clearly aware that Gossip Girl set unrealistic standards for romantic and social relationships, and engaged in unbelievable plot lines to create its core drama. While this is by no means a new approach for soap dramas, which often have shocking and almost impossible twists, it is interesting to hear the actors reflect on the series’ impact so many years later, and how Gossip Girl may have affected its target audience of young, impressionable teenagers.

Next: Why The Gossip Girl Reboot Doesn’t Work (It Needs To Be Meaner)

Source: Podcrushed

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