Friday, March 26, 2010


Last night was the return of one of my favorite television programs Gossip Girl. Now, before all you haters have your piece I want to explain what this post will entail. I wish to explain for those of you who do not know, what is Gossip Girl. Why I enjoy it, and finally, why it can be the worse thing since 90210 for teenage girls to watch. In addition to why it’s actually a positive thing for teenagers and their parents.The show is set in the Upper East Side of New York City and focuses of the lives of the wealthiest teenagers in New York and their parents. Drinking champagne, limo escorts, penthouses, and brunches at five star hotels are no big deal to the characters. All of them openly have sex and even participate in role-playing and other tantric sex games. Drugs, affairs, political scandal, are all very typical in the lives of these characters.So why would an educated young girl like myself subject myself to such superficial programming, because that is not my life. Shows like Laguna Beach and The Hills are not relatable to my current situation, so a fantasy world is created and escaping there for an hour a week is fine by me. Much like the feeling I get from watching Breakfast at Tiffany’s, its enjoyable to watch young socialites fret about what designer they will wear for the Masquerade Ball. If I wanted something to relate to I’d stare at people at the library doing what I am doing.Sadly, I cannot say the same for young girls watching Gossip Girl. Mimicking the bullying ways of Blair Waldorf and demanding elaborate birthday parties and clothes like the characters on gossip girl. When you are older, you can understand that it is an exaggeration of wealthy kids in New York’s socialite circle. However I feel younger girls can not, and think “I should get that...”.Is it really all that bad though? Issues such as drinking, and sex and drugs are brought to the table. It gives parents an opportunity to watch something with their teenagers and discuss. The Team Canada Women’s Olympic Gold medal winners recently received a lot of flack concerning their drinking, questioning their ability to role model. Yet once a week a program is aired normalizing consumption of luxury, sex, drama, bullying, hierarchies and of course drinking…
Image: Flickr carla mh lopez


  1. While I agree that the show does touch on some relevant issues like sex, drugs and drinking in the lives of young teens, and that it is entertaining because it is outside our immediate realm of possibility, the way it handles these issues is, in my mind, not in an educational or learning appropriate manner - and definitely not something I would want to watch and discuss with my parents about (especially if I was a young teenage viewer). I find that instead of educate about these issues, the show normalizes them. 15 year olds are out at clubs, sipping coctails and leading glamorous and extremely mature lives that a young, and perhaps naive, person could easily interpret as being just that, a glamorous and luxurious life or the elite, or something to aspire to. I find that the high-school era of the show was the most problematic in that the character's age never seemed to match up with their actions, their dialogue, etc. By giving these teens mature experiences especially concerning things that are actually relevant to teens and young adults like sex, drugs and drinking, for mere entertainment value, I think it does more harm than good and can easily blur the line between entertainment and real life drama and issues, in ways that can harmfully mislead young viewers and glamorize behavior and issues that really need to be taught and discussed in a more thoughtful manner.

  2. For me the show can in some ways incite teens to emulate persona's and lifestyles that they a) don't know much about b) can't afford and c) can easily lead to horrendous situations that scream moral panic and which could otherwise be avoided. I see the show as one of many influences that can shape value systems and meaning making processes for young, generally female, minds. However, generally the choices that teens make in the end are predicated on the influence of their friends in cahoots with the shows and media that they consume - as well as their family values etc. So when it comes down to it, what fears me most is how convincingly the show details the benefits of spending money- not earning it. With so much youth television revolving around similar issues, not many jump into the lives of debutantes- even The OC depicted characters that worked hard to earn money for their drugs (or what-have-you).

    I guess what I'm saying is that I think a good family and friend base will keep teen's in order in terms of the drinking, smoking, drugs, sex - but with the amount of disposable income readily available to teens of all ages and class systems, the value of money is something that needs to be instilled in a proper manner to ensure that children are raised with good understandings of what's important and necessary.

  3. I think this show definitely sends contradicting messages which to a younger high school age viewer could turn out to be quite detrimental. One second the show is emphasizing upstanding moral values such as telling the truth, paying the consequences for what you have done (Jenny is constantly being grounded) and learning from your mistakes (Serena basically killed a guy, hooked up with her friends boyfriend did drugs etc.) Then all of the sudden we have Blair backstabbing and treating her "mignons" (who happen to be ethnic minorities) like dirt and yet always "wins" or is rewarded in the end by getting what she wants. I think the show is attempting to be responsible in showing the character constantly mess up and then have to pay for their mistakes, but the fact of the matter is they keep acting irresponsibly over and over again which just teaches its young viewers that they too can get away with murder. And yes, the whole clothes, perfect beauty and money thing is an issue because it makes young girls have unrealistic goals and not be happy with what they have. Long story short, I personally find it quite entertaining, but it is definitely not a good show for young girls in terms of setting any sort of example.

  4. You defiantly bring up some really great and different outlooks on the show. Gossip Girl in general, is for sure a controversial show/topic and therefore can be seen in both a negative and positive outcome in relation to its content. I do agree with you, as young adults who engage in this show, to us it's a make believe world were we enjoy watching the scandals and live vicariously through these beautiful, rich characters - we aware it is a television show and nothing more than plain simple entertainment. However, even as a young teen a remember reading all of the Gossip Girl novels and remember there being much less sex and drug content in them. It is sort of a moral panic I feel, since the show is targeted at young adolescents mostly likely to be still in high school, perhaps suggesting that this sort of behavior is cool or acceptable. Wishing they could live the same way as these girls do? To answer your question, is it bad, yes issues such as drinking, sex and drugs are brought to the table, however I doubt any teen is watching this show with their parents. Hopefully parents are already discussing these issues with their children regardless if they watch the show or not, I just hope the show is not influencing children that this is normal or encourage this behavior. So no its not extremely bad, but must be looked at in a critical light. I do remember watching repeats of 90201 when I was in high school, but I can't say the content was nearly as controversial as Gossip Girl (threesomes, backstabbing, cocaine use). Maybe its just me, but it feels like adolescents are growing up much faster than they use to, I see my friends little sisters part-taking in things in grade 9 that shock me - thats not to say that Gossip Girl is the cause, but makes you think where they are getting the inspiration from.
    Interesting blog post, really makes you think!