The expected loss of 16-year-old Jenny Humphrey’s virginity was the centerpiece of last night’s episode of Gossip Girl. As with most small, inbred cultures, the deflowering of this Upper East Sider –cum–Brooklynite became something of a community affair. Jenny’s father, her stepmother, her brother, and Nate all weighed in with their thoughts about the emotional and physical consequences such an act might have. Stepsister Serena directed the younger girl toward a Patrick Swayze movie for sex tips, and we’re sure that, were Dorota and Vanya around, they would have offered advice on pregnancy protection. None of this, in the end, was needed. Damien turned out to be a callous and unworthy suitor, and Jenny was left not broken-hymened, but brokenhearted.
But this sad little story seemed indeed like “kid stuff,” compared to the metaphorical screwing that was going on elsewhere: Clearly, Lily is still doing something untoward behind Rufus’s back, and Chuck’s mother and Jack Bass are apparently planning to double-team Chuck in a betrayal of epic proportions.
And so it was that we realized: It’s not really the people you let into your vagina that can hurt you. It’s the people you let into your heart.
And now, on to our patented reality index!
Realer Than Chuck Getting Fussed Over at Turnbull and Asser
• In the pictures of young Jenny on the wall of the Brooklyn apartment, set designers used actual pictures of a younger Taylor Momsen (sadly, not including set shots of her as Cindy Lou Who). In them, she looks normal, innocent, and even happy. Plus 2, because we generally imagine that Jenny’s downward trajectory is nearly perfectly matched with her real-life counterpart.
• There is definitely something going on with the waffles and the strawberries in this episode. Waffles represent innocence, safety, and stability. (Which is why Jenny reacts so violently against them, though she’s not wrong to recognize that the general fixation with them is a little bizarre.) Strawberries, on the other hand, are present only when trickery is afoot, or before, after, or during sex. Or when somebody is wearing silk. Plus 3, because this seems right to us, even though we’ve never really thought eating strawberries was all that sexy because those little seeds and hairs get caught in your teeth, and then what do you do with the stem?
• Everything about Jenny’s nervousness about losing her virginity is so spot-on, from the way she bolts out of bed every time Damien gets to “a certain spot under her kilt” to her weirdly lying about being a virgin. “No! It’s not like that!” she shouts hysterically, when Damien broaches the subject, then modulates her tone to sound sultry and world-weary. “I just don’t like the first time with someone to be rushed.” As though, at 16, there’s been loads of first times. Plus 3.
• Chuck and Blair sat for a posed portrait together? It’d be more real if it was a painting, but that’s probably still in the commission phase, so Plus 2.
• Blair: “We have innocence, good breeding, and Doug Jarrett, one of the best lawyers in New York, on our side. It’s a slam dunk.” Plus 2, because really she wanted to put good breeding first, but had to say “innocence” to show Chuck that she believed he didn’t molest his staff. And plus 1 for indicating that the lawyer was going to later become important by saying his name out loud for no reason.
• What, again, is Serena doing with her life? Just hanging around Nate’s place? And repeatedly and ill-advisedly endeavoring to use her brain? Plus 2. And again, isn’t Nate supposed to be in school?
• Even for TV, Damien is wearing a ton of makeup. So, so real. Plus 1. He is kind of the poor man’s Zac Efron, no?
• Blair’s bright-blue coat reminds us how much we like it on this show when people wear color. We never see any vibrant color again until her red dress, later in the night, and Chuck’s purple tie that he doesn’t even wear, so only plus 1.
• Rufus: “I’m not quite in the mood to celebrate any of your former husbands right now.” Aw, Rufus’s chunky cardigans don’t smother his entire edge, just muffle it a little. Plus 1.
• Serena is pretending to eat ice cream by taking teeny-tiny bites of ice cream while talking to Jenny, as girls like her do. Plus 2.
&8226; Serena: “Sometimes I wish I had waited for someone special, like Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing.” Jenny: “Dirty Dancing?”
Serena: “It’s great, you should download it.” AAAUUGGHH. Sometimes we think they write these things just to torture us, but yes, grr, real. Plus 3.
• Jack: “I never realized how many sex puns you can make out of ‘Chuck Bass.’” Plus 3. And commenters … go!
• Of course Serena is on a scheme high after last episode, and of course she would think she could pull off something “Chuck and Blair do all the time.” Plus 3, because once Intel Chris thought he could be a consultant, then somebody asked him how many Ping-Pong balls could fit into a 747, and bang! Journalism!
• Serena’s maroon dress is almost (almost!) safe and demure. And yet her boobs literally ripped it open to make it outright dangerous-looking. Plus 2.
• Rufus: “If [Damien] were a vampire, I could slip garlic in her waffles or something.” Plus 1. Also, sigh.
• The Humphreys prepare Thanksgiving dinner while watching The Sound of Music? Real, but no wonder Jenny has gone insane at the age of 12. And goes after a prince (or whatever he is) from Bavaria (or wherever he’s supposed to be from). Plus 3.
• Gossip Girl: “Uh-oh. Looks like this virgin’s next accessory may be a chastity belt.” Aw, and we were just thinking she’d finally gotten rid of just the right amount of accessories! Plus 2.
• Chuck: “Actually I only wear purple because my father loathed it.”
Elizabeth: “Or maybe that’s what he wanted you to think. Bart was playing with people’s heads all the time.” Is that supposed to sound like a lie? Because it kind of sounds like the truth. Plus 1.
• AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Blair: “I can see he’s starting to doubt himself.” Serena “Why wouldn’t he? With the bad press, the protesters, the Daily Intel says he’s thinking of stepping down … ” Plus one trillion.
• Dan recoils when Vanessa tries to cuddle him in front of Rufus. Plus 1, because PDA in front of your parents is pretty gross. And plus 3 for his nervous stammering about the map of “friend” zones and “friends with benefits” zones he plans to create, which is beyond nerdy and repels even Vanessa. But we’re worried about him. Next thing you know he’s going to start dating girls who look like him and only eat cereal.
• Blair, picking up the phone in the strange, Victorian boudoir that somehow cropped up out of nowhere: “Oh, and speaking of things we’ve shared. Nate!”Plus 3. (And not to dwell, but Serena’s boobs are downright thunderous in this scene.)
• Rufus: “Dirty Dancing?” Jenny: “Yeah, it’s corny but it’s kinda good.” Rufus: “Come on. It’s totally good.” We like this dialogue, but no points, because if “I’ve Had the Time of My Life” is playing, it means it’s the last scene, just before The Lift, and no true American can turn their eyes away from the screen (even a laptop screen) during these moments.
• Elizabeth’s jacket makes her look preggers. With mystery. Subtle! Plus 1.
• That IS the New York Historical Society! Nice location choice! Plus 2.
• Logically, one would imagine it that when both halves of a couple are extremely simpleminded, things should to go smoothly. Because what is there to fight about? No one is having complex thoughts. Certainly no one is overanalyzing the situation. But occasionally, pairs of non-intellects clash over something minor, confusion ensues, and all of a sudden the small bump becomes incredibly serious, like the argument version of a concussion. We saw this with Ronnie and Sammie on Jersey Shore this past summer (the Fred Flintstone Toe incident comes to mind). And we saw it with Nate and Serena last night, after Nate accidentally kind of referred to Serena as a slut on speakerphone with Blair. Sensing he screwed up, Nate immediately apologizes, but this does little to quell the rage Serena focuses on him at the National Historical Society, when, clad in the sort of backless lace dress that Julia Roberts might have worn in Pretty Woman, she confronts him about ratting on Jenny to her father, and believing the rumors that as a high-school student, she herself was the “concubine of the Upper East Side.” “Haven’t you ever heard of locker-room gossip,” she says indignantly. “Those guys lied, or exaggerated.” “Serena, I lost my virginity to you on a bar at the Campbell Apartment,” Nate says in response. Touché! Then he delivers the kicker: “When I woke up the next day, the person I lost my virginity to, the person I loved, was gone,” he said. “Never to be heard from again for a year.” Never to be heard from again for a year? What does that even mean? Either you’re never heard from again or you’re not. Jesus. Anyway, Plus 10.
• Jack’s apology to Lily was awesome. “I was drinking. Took some over-the-counter pills they started keeping behind the counter. And some meth.” Plus 1.
• Jenny: “Damien’s my boyfriend!” Dan: “You’re 16, come on.” Jenny: “Yeah, when you were 16 you were in love with Serena, and everyone thought it was adorable.” Advantage: Lil J. Plus 3.
• Damien fights his way out of the party, but Rufus doesn’t punch Jack in the face on first sight? Plus 10.
• Jenny: “I’m a virgin. I just wanted you to know, in case … I just wanted you to know.” This made us cringe so, so hard. (Partially because it was so real and sort of gross, and partially because we had no such sweet, nervous hesitations at this moment in our own lives.) Plus 4.
Total: One trillion eighty-three points.
More Fake Than a School That Would Escort Non Gun-Toting Students From Class to Class
• As cinematically fun as Jenny’s Jem-style hair-and-head-shake transformation was, Jenny would wait until she was further outside of the apartment — in the car perhaps, for the benefit of the pervy driver. She knows Rufus is the type to chase her out the door with a brown paper bag with waffles in it for lunch. And she’d do more than unbutton her undershirt. She’d put on her best Laura Ashley corset. Minus 3.
• Elizabeth does not look like a lady who plays squash. Minus 4.
• Let’s talk about this lawsuit situation. First of all, sure, we buy that Chuck’s female employees might sue. But Chuck wouldn’t be so mopey about it, he’d love it. It would add to his rep! And he loves a good fight. This line: “A court case would be a pure nightmare, we have to settle,” would never come out of his mouth. Minus 5. And he wouldn’t fret about the Historical Society event because in the real world, things don’t escalate from zero to citywide scandal in just an afternoon. Minus 5. And for that matter, no one at that dinner would care — the Basses are billionaires. Everyone would show up for that reason alone. Minus 5. And for that matter, nobody would bother picketing a hotel (not with such well-painted signs, certainly) over sexual harassment in New York. Any idea how many sexual-harassment suits there are in the city every year? Minus 5. Also, while we’re at it, the idea that a 20 percent drop in reservations at a little boutique hotel would be a threat to a billionaire family is laughable. Even Jack Bass wouldn’t have been able to deliver that line with a straight face. Minus 5. And Chuck taking orders from the lawyer? Never. Minus 5.
• Nate and Serena are not “sex all the way under the covers so that not even your head is sticking out” people. They are “gross sex on shared surfaces where your roommates also prepare food” people. Minus 10. Also, nobody emerges from that situation not covered in at least sweat, if not other, less transparent bodily fluids. Minus 3.
• We’re sorry, but is that an ad for Gossip Girl costume designer Eric Daman’s book on the bus stand in the background by the hotel? We’re going to have to deduct for that, people, but not much because he’s not the only one who got a gratuitous shout-out this episode. Minus only 1.
• When Jenny rears up during her fight with Rufus, she looks like she’s unfolded straight out of Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride. When she finally is standing, she’s approximately three times the size of Rufus, and yet he is not terrified. Minus 2.
• Blair: “Pathetic! Suburban moralists in mom jeans. I’d pity them if I wasn’t worried they’d spill orange soda on my Christian Louboutins.” Why would pitying them make that happen? You can pity from afar, Blair. Isn’t that what you’ve been doing your whole life? Minus 3. (Though we enjoy that you can tell Blair spent the whole elevator ride up thinking of that one the way she trailed off at the end, wanting to get the whole line out. That’s acting.)
• No points, because ABC does this synergy thing all the time, but we’re watching you, CW!
• You can’t do DNA tests at the NYPD in a few hours. A forensic scientist once told us that. Minus 5.
• Also, why are Blair and Elizabeth so outraged that Chuck wants to do a DNA test? Elizabeth is supposed to be dead. Minus 5.
• Serena’s dress at the Historical Society only has pretend cleavage? Come on. Minus 4.
• Where does Vanessa get the money for expensive dresses like that? And heels? Eh, wash, because we love that she’s become an immediate skank for Dan.
• Damien appears behind Serena just as she finishes describing her plot against him on the phone to Nate, yet doesn’t overhear anything. Two scenes later, Elizabeth appears behind Chuck and Blair when they are discussing the DNA test, and overhears everything. Other than the obvious questions about young versus old ears, how is everyone getting into each other’s hotel rooms all the time? Minus 3.
• Vanessa came all the way to Brooklyn to leave and go back to NYU five seconds later. Minus only 1, because we know, it’s absurd to even complain about this stuff at this point.
• Along those lines, why did everyone, including Vanessa, have to come to this event at the New York Historical Society? Minus only 1.
• Not to give Damien credit, because his whole plotline was leading up to this, but he did sort of really seem to like Jenny for a while. And he’s a player, he knows it would just take a little more talking to get her, uh, age-inappropriate teddy off. He wouldn’t have bolted like that. Minus 6.
• Serena to Nate: “I wish that somehow we could relive that night [in the Campbell Apartment], because this time I know that you love me, and you know that I love you.” Um, they have been reliving that night over and over and over! Minus 3.
• Seriously, where is Eric? Everyone’s panicking about Jenny going missing, and yet he’s been AWOL for weeks! Minus 1, because if anything would drive a young, unstable gay kid to self-harm, it’s exactly this treatment.
Total 83 points! Were it not for a single line, this episode would have managed the unheard-of feat of balancing exactly between real and unreal. As always, put your tallies in the comments, and we’ll summarize them on Friday!