On the surface, the world of Gossip Girl glitters, but beneath the layers of lamé and sequins are soft, vulnerable creatures who must muddle through life’s struggles like everyone else — albeit more comfortably. On last night’s episode, Dan continued his quest for popularity, fighting against the outpouring of negative reviews of his novel on the Internet. Nate, faced with a personal and professional quandary, was forced to look within himself and ask, What would JFK Jr. do? Meanwhile, Chuck made strides toward enlightenment with the help of a Buddhist monk, only to be interrupted by Blair, who wanted to know how he’d transformed himself from angry lost soul to Zen master. Elsewhere on the Upper East Side, ChIvey fought to hold onto the peace and love she had been searching for her entire life, which was under threat from Carol and Max, who had both shown up looking for vengeance and money. All Gossip Girl characters are searchers, but Chuck Bass is correct: For them, there will be no answers, because on this show, as one problem is solved, another arises. In this way, Gossip Girl mirrors life. As for the rest of it, let us go consult our weekly Reality Index.
More Real Than Online Haters Being “Like Cockroaches, You Kill One and Three More Pop Up in Their Place.”
• Okay, Nate as editor of The Spectator is ridiculous in and of itself. Nate holding staff meetings where he says things like “The Spectator publishes truth,” and “Let me know if you want to pitch a story,” is patently absurd. What puts this in the reality column is that the people on the show seem to think he’s dumb, too. When one staffer tells him she has a story about a congressman’s wife who is having an affair, he fires off a series of ridiculous questions. “Do we have a new angle?” he blusters. “What was going on in Washington at the time? Does the wife want to come clean?” Plus 10. Um, the girl ventures, How about, do you want to know who it is first?
• When Lily asks CeCe if Carol is invited to the Studio 54 Anniversary party, she says she decided to “leave it up to Barry and Diane.” Plus 2
• Dan has created an avatar to defend his work called “DanFan,” which he thinks no one is going to realize is him. Plus 2
• “Maybe it’s some Freaky Friday thing,” says Dorota, of Chuck’s and Louis’s personality changes. “They struck by lightning at same time or pee in same fountain.” Of course Dorota is familiar with cheesy body-switching movies. What do you think she and Vanya do on Friday nights. Plus 2
• “Ah, comfort food, something I’m good at,” says Rufus. Even he knows he’s become extraneous. Plus 3
• Chuck is doing yoga in a dress shirt and tie. Plus 7
• He’s also wearing really intensely bright green socks, as if to indicate that just because he’s a Zen master doesn’t mean he wouldn’t sacrifice Kermit for fashion. Plus 3
• “I certainly don’t want it in the hands of the Post,” Grandfather Archibald says, of the story involving Nate’s congressmen cousin’s sex scandal. But why not? They handle these things so beautifully! Plus 3
• “I’m going for a walk, on the streets, where I’m welcome,” 45-year-old Carol Rhodes spits angrily within minutes of being around her mother. Plus 8 for regression, so familiar to us all this time of year!
• After four years of doing this recap and multiple conversations with the author of the original Gossip Girl series, we finally know how to pronounce her name, thanks to these ads for Gossip Girl: Psycho Killer. Von Zee-GAZE-er. Plus 1
• “From what I can see, Jared Kushner better watch his back,” Grandfather Archibald tells Nate, when Nate decides to get out in front of an embarrassing story involving his family members instead of kind of pretending like it isn’t happening. Plus 5
• The pill CeCe is taking is Capecitabine, which is used to treat breast cancer. Plus 5, and look out for a plotline that Gossip Girl producer Jessica Queller knows all too well.
• Blair: “I was a teenage bulimic and my father came out at 15, this isn’t my first analysis.” Plus 5
• Dan says a phrase we often heard around the New York Magazine offices: “I’m not Snooki, I’m a writer.” Plus 2
• The exposition of Serena and Max’s overnight date was long and awkward, but while we could have done without the references to Gucci and Alaia (Luxury name-dropping is as old and dated as those bitches from Sex and the City) — and no one, especially not some two-bit CW character, disses David Chang’s dumplings in our presence — it was overridden by mentions of locales such as Bunker, Apotheke, and the High Line as well as the overall sentiment, as expressed by Serena: “How can anyone not love New York?” Plus 8
• The city got a lot of love in his episode; there was even a short but sweet cameo of New York’s bespectacled Queen of Cakes Sylvia Weinstock. Plus 6
• CeCe, in her white suit and feathered hair, requesting a cocaine garnish on her Cristal. Gorgeous. How can Carol not love her? All grandmas should be this awesome. Plus 8
• Also, Bianca Jagger may have ridden into Studio 54 on a horse, but CeCe rode in on an elephant. Plus 2
• After their long night of fruitless tweeting into the abyss, Dan and his agent Alessandra have a breakthrough: Katy Perry retweets them! “She has like 9 million followers,” Dan says. “Those are best-seller numbers,” salivates Alessandra. Plus 3, because, for real. If only Katy Perry would tweet this show, then it might be more successful in the ratings.
Faker Than Ivy’s Ponytail
• Nate: “When Tripp told me he and Maureen were with you all last summer, I thought things didn’t sound right. That’s when one of my reporters said she was spotted with her sailing instructor.” Grandfather Archibald: “She could have snuck down to D.C. for a night or two.” Nate: “Which is why I called the club. Turns out, the only sailing lessons that Maureen has taken are from a woman named Heather two years ago.” Grandfather Archibald: “Are you saying … ” Nate: “That Maureen is faking an affair? Yes.” Nate Archibald is ON IT! No, but seriously, COME ON. First of all, Minus 5 for Nate, who was educated under the wing of Chuck Bass, for not even considering a steamy lesbian scenario here, which is obviously what Grandfather Archibald was thinking. Secondly, Minus 9 for the idea that Tripp’s wife would fake an affair because her husband rescuing the marriage would be a sympathetic story. If she wanted to make her husband look cool and heroic, there are easier, less risky ways, like by throwing a child overboard the next time they’re on Grandfather’s yacht and making him dive in after it, or dropping him into a canyon on a hiking trip and forcing him to gnaw off his own arm. She doesn’t need to destroy her own reputation to help his. And Maureen is canny. She wouldn’t leave loose ends like, say, not actually having a sailing instructor to be the fall guy. No, if this was anyone’s plan, it was one of the short-sighted Archibald men, Tripp or the nefarious Grandfather.
• The Van der Woodsens are supposed to be going to a party thrown by rich people in honor of CeCe. Why do they have to bring their own cake? Won’t the hosts take care of that? Minus 2
• So wait: Does Carol hate money or love it? Because for someone who so frequently bemoans the “despicable fate of being a Rhodes,” she seems to like the money that comes with being one an awful lot. Minus 4
• “Wait, you know him too?” Serena says, when Lily greets Max. “This is insane!” For a second when she said that, we thought the fourth wall had been broken and that the actors were going to start commenting on the ridiculousness of the plot on the show, but then CeCe fainted conveniently and everything went back to normal. So, no points.
• Carol’s first response when CeCe fainted was to grab Max’s jacket and sneak the Playbill out of it. But how did she even know it was in there? Also, what did Max think he was taking his jacket off for? Minus 2
• WHY DO THEY NEVER GO TO THE STUDIO 54 PARTY? Minus 20, because even these people don’t get that dressed up to have fondue and watch Rufus bust Saturday Night Fever moves.
• “If you don’t believe me, call Harry Winston,” Chuck says in all seriousness. “I left the engagement ring I brought you on their doorstep.” SERIOUSLY? He thinks that just sat there overnight on a New York City street until the next day at 10 a.m. or noon depending on what day it was when some employee picked it up, brought it in, and filed it away? Minus 2
• After staying up all night on her date, Serena is sitting up in bed, blogging, wearing not pajamas but a whole new outfit including a twenty-pound metal breastplate. Minus 5
• Evidence shows spending time around this crowd can turn the nicest of people into insanely selfish, conniving monsters — it’s happened to Vanessa, Dan, Jenny, among others. Maybe it’s the corrupting influence of money, or Blair’s Contagious Darkness. But Max has gone from zero to eleven faster than anyone. We get that he’s pissed about his girlfriend of two years walking out on him, but we’re not really buying that the smiley guy who just wanted to move to Portland and bake things turned into a nasty schemer intent on bilking his ex out of $500 grand overnight. Minus 5
• Also, if Max is unemployed and broke, he wouldn’t be buying cake ingredients at Dean and Deluca, where flour costs like, $12. Minus 5
• Dan rings all of the buzzers on the building where his “stalker,” lives, but Alessandra happens to be the one who answers the door. Minus 2
• Also, like everyone else on this show, she apparently wears giant necklaces and blazers while hanging out around the house. Minus 2
• Except for Blair, all of a sudden: What is with the mummu? She’s only like two months pregnant. Minus 1
• “I only turned dark and desperate because I was afraid of losing you. Your love kept me alive.” Ughhhh. I’m the only person doing this recap now, but when it comes to Chuck and Blair, I lately find myself of two minds: The adult part of my brain cringes at the horrifically cheesy dialogue about “lightness” and “darkness,” but the teenage part of my brain, the part that was able to sustain watching not one but two of the Twilight movies, kind of loves it. So, no points deducted, or awarded.
• “I’ll make sure no one ever sees this,” says Carol Rhodes, of the Playbill. Sure, of course, and ChIvey’s cool with that, even though this single Playbill is apparently the only thing in the world that would reveal her true identity. Minus 2
• Also, she has zero interest in knowing the truth about the real Charlotte Rhodes, even though Carol’s clearly dying to tell her, like she’s all, “It’s really bad, I mean, just unspeakably terrible, no one would ever talk to me again, forever.” Minus 9
• Gossip Girl has gotten ahold of CeCe’s “White Lady appetizer” and is talking nonsense again. “If you’re going to play with matches, make sure you don’t leave them around to spark the flame anew,” she says. “Disco isn’t dead, and neither am I.” Whatever, Gossip Girl.
Though Gossip Girl as a whole may succeed in its depiction of the human condition, this episode came out on the fake side, largely because of Nate’s idiocy and the fact that the Van der Woodsen clan NEVER MADE IT TO STUDIO 54. We’ll see if budget constraints allow them to leave the house next week, on the mid-season finale of The Greatest Show of Our Time.
Interested in compiling our recap of the recap? E-mail alice.urmey[at]nymag.com, subject line: Sound the Trumpet, Strumpets.