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The O.C. comes to NYC

By sriktemp

Section: Arts

September 21, 2007

Rich adolescents leading seemingly perfect privileged lives. The popular girl, hiding a deep, angst-ridden personality under her flawless skin. The loner boy who just can't conform to the in-crowd's ways.

Sound familiar? Remind you of a certain teen drama that FOX pulled the plug on not too long ago?

However, instead of the sunny beaches of California, The CW's newest show, Gossip Girl, unravels in the penthouses of New York's elite.

With Gossip Girl, the CW attempts to fill the hole The O.C. left in many a teenage girl's heart when finished its four-season run last February. While The O.C. was able to intrigue viewers for the first two seasons, Mischa Barton sounded the death knell for the show at the end of season three, with the passing of her character, Marissa Cooper.

For Gossip Girl, the question is: does the show even have the power to make it to a third season or will viewers be left getting their kicks from the first season of The O.C. on DVD?

Gossip Girl, which is based on Cecily von Ziegesar's series of young-adult novels, begins with the return of the much talked-about Serena van der Woodsen from boarding school to New York high society.

However her return is a far from celebrated one. Despite her year-long absence, Serena cannot escape the superficiality and lies of her past life. She must face her so-called best friend, Blair Waldorf, Blair's boyfriend with whom Serena had a one-night stand, Nate Archibald, as well as the sketchy (that's the only word to describe him) Chuck Bass, who is intent on “getting some action” whether it's consensual or not. And it doesn't help that her every move is fanatically followed by her classmates via the blog of the anonymous Gossip Girl.

Gossip Girl, voiced by Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars), has claimed it as her duty to report on the lives of the in-crowd, no matter how scandalous they may be. She narrates throughout the episode, attempting to heighten the drama and explicate the characters' thoughts.

However, unlike Sex and the City, where the narration was insightful and even clever at times, Gossip Girl's voice-overs are redundant and only work to remind the viewer that they have indeed been suckered into watching another teen drama.

Gossip Girl ruins the seething tension between Blair and Serena as they have a silent staring contest on the steps of the Met by releasing lines like “Did B [Blair] think S [Serena] would go down without a fight?” and “Gossip Girl loves a catfight and this is going to be a classic.”

Hearing Gossip Girl voice her melodramatic one-liners makes it too apparent that the show is trying to capitalize off of the soap-opera formula of showering the viewer with whatever theatrics they can muster.

The show must learn to walk the very thin line between dramatic and overdramatic. After all, wasn't it too much drama that lead to the downfall of The O.C.?

Hopefully Gossip Girl executive producer/writer and The O.C. creator Josh Schwartz will pace himself when it comes to teenage pregnancies, drug overdoses and obsessed lovers this time around.

However it is hard to say whether Schwartz will actually be able to control himself, given the number of overlaps between the two shows that are apparent in the Gossip Girl pilot. Serena, played by Blake Lively (The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants), is automatically characterized as another Marissa Cooper when she brushes her blond hair out of her face to reveal a deeply troubled look.

Serena's developing love interest is Dan Humphrey, played by Penn Badgley (John Tucker Must Die) is yet another sarcastic, but endearing loner who is perhaps only a bit more smoother with the ladies than The O.C.'s Seth Cohen. Even the storyline of romance between the parents of the popular girl and the loner boy has transferred to Gossip Girl, as seen when Dan's father, Rufus Humphrey, alludes to a time when he knew Serena's mother, Lily van der Woodsen, as a rock band groupie.

Despite the melodrama and the obvious similarities to The O.C., Gossip Girl does have a chance to become the new Dawson's Creek or Gilmore Girls, except with BMWs and summer mansions in Connecticut, of course.

It has all the right ingredients (a good cast, a storyline with a lot of potential). Now it just has to stray from the path already paved by The O.C. by bringing originality and intrigue into the mix. But then again, New York always does do things a little differently.

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