Some Brief Observations on Gossip Girl S04 E16

"Well, as you can probably tell, I'm not a typical college student. I'm a self-actualized, mature beyond her years, yet still youthful and dewy, working woman."

I liked this episode of Gossip Girl, but I don’t feel especially enthused to write about it. There wasn’t one overwhelming theme or topic that caught my attention, so I’ll just make a few notes on things I noticed about the entire Gossip Girl series while watching this latest episode.

Excluding Chuck Bass, women are always the schemers of the Upper East Side. Men like Nate and Dan will occasionally act as accomplices, but they never devise the strategy. While watching this episode, I realized that there is a considerable parallel between Blair and Lily van der Woodsen Bass Humphrey (according to this episode, Rufus is number 4…so who’s the remaining husband?). I know Lily’s supposed to be the ex-wild child whose past strongly mirrors Serena’s present, but lately there’s been more similarities between her and Blair. Both women are assertive type As who execute parties and ploys with the same panache, and both martyr themselves melodramatically when immediate family or close friends are in trouble. At the end of this episode, Lily is willing to risk jail time for falsifying an affidavit in order to ensure the safety of her children (it’s a complicated plot involving a hundred grand worth of coke and, as always, Serena’s clown car cooter).

Another thing I’ve been thinking about is the unwritten code of morals that is scrupulously followed by all Upper East Siders. In this episode, during an integral narrative turning point in this increasingly convoluted plot, Lily walks into the room while Serena and Eric are stealthily opening birthday presents. She says:

"What are you doing? Do you realize how gauche it is to open gifts at a party, before dessert?"

Oh, Lily. Really? So it’s gauche to open presents at the party, but it’s perfectly adroit to  forge your daughter’s signature on an affidavit? Sure, you got out of that scrape several years ago, but now it’s back to bite you in the ass. Haven’t you learned anything from all your scheming? Bending the law to your will is never a good idea, but that’s what these wealthy Manhattanites do on every episode. The law is easily bought with enough cash, but that doesn’t mean our favorite characters are completely immoral. Any rule that relates to one’s appearance or social behavior is highly-enforced. I remember a recent episode where Eric was supposed to attend a formal event with the family and Lily chastised him for not donning a tuxedo. Public manners are strictly codified, but private actions are unrestrained. As long as no one leaks your secrets to Gossip Girl, you’re completely free from any consequences. Money may not buy happiness, love, friends, or any trite noun of your choosing, but on Gossip Girl, it clearly pays for an inordinate number of devious crimes. Stay tuned!

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