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Gossip Girl Insiders Pay Tribute to — and Quibble With — the Reality Index

GOSSIP GIRL-- 'New York, I Love You XOXO' -- -- Pictured (L-R): Ed Westwick as Chuck Bass, Desmond Harrington as Jack Bass and Chace Crawford as Nate Archibald
GOSSIP GIRL– ‘New York, I Love You XOXO’ – – Pictured (L-R): Ed Westwick as Chuck Bass, Desmond Harrington as Jack Bass and Chace Crawford as Nate Archibald Photo: Giovanni Rufino/CW

As many of you know, this week saw the end of an era — the culmination of our work on our Reality Index, in which we followed each episode of Gossip Girl like an army of headband-wearing, undermining minions, slavishly collecting details in service of … a special scientific experiment, the details of which can never be revealed. Over the past five-plus years, we (Chris Rovzar, Chris’s Boyfriend, the Commenter Formerly Known as Jessica’s Husband, and I, accompanied by a mostly merry band of commenters) have spent hours questioning the decisions of the creators of the Greatest Show of Our Time, alternately praising them for their sensitivity and chiding them for their crazy-ass plotting and seeming inability to control certain actors’ irrepressible hair and cleavage. Now that the Reality Index has come to an end, It seemed only fair to give the people on the, er, “Inside” of Gossip Girl a chance to talk back. Herewith, their comments on the Gossip Girl Reality Index.

More Real Than Mayor Bloomberg’s Gossip Girl Fandom

Stephanie Savage, writer/co-creator: I heard the writers talking about it in the room after the pilot aired. Josh Safran sent me a link. I remember reading, thinking it was clever and funny — cooler than a recap! obsessed with New York, just like us! — but I didn’t really lock in until I got to:Dancing on tables at Bungalow.” After its steady decline in recent years, the high-school crowd is right about where that place is at these days. +8. And that was exactly our rationale for picking it! Literally, Josh Schwartz and I were musing aloud about who was letting in the hot high school girls and we were like, Bungalow!  Hahaha. And you guys got it completely. But then came: Formal invitations — on paper — are issued for the “Kissing on the Lips Party.” -2. Real kids use Evite. Evite??? You had me, then you lost me. But you immediately (re-)got me with your self-deprecating retraction/correction: “Update: A very alert (and very correct) young reader e-mailed us to point out: “Evite? Please. Real kids use Facebook.” So true! We have never felt more old or irrelevant.” And thus reading the Index and the comments became a Tuesday-morning ritual.

Zuzanna Sadowski, a.k.a. Dorota: I have actually been known to get to the NYMag site too early on a Tuesday and to have to refresh, refresh, refresh until the recap comes up. I know perfection can’t be rushed.

Eric Daman, costume designer: My team and I read it aloud every Tuesday morning, almost religiously, usually with giggles and smirks, sometimes with scowls as our fabulous fashions were scrutinized.

Brittany Griffin, assistant costume designer: Cleavage Rhombus was all of a sudden a term we used with frequency.

Eric Daman: The Cleavage Rhombus really had a mind of its own and would show up unexpectedly, but definitely gained more attention once NYMag named it. We totally tried to push the Rhombus Index beyond its original Herve Leger traffic-stopping appearance to the ultimate, “can’t-go-any further-without-an-R-rating,” perfectly framed in a Maxime Simoens cut-out tux jacket.

Jessica Queller, writer/producer: I can’t remember which episode the pierogies were in — I think it was Handmaiden’s Tale — but they gave negative points about the veracity of Vanessa going all the way to the East Village to Veselka to get pierogies and then BACK to Brooklyn. They are totally right!! The Veselka reference was so true to my experience of being young in NYC in the early nineties. But that was before everyone I knew migrated to Brooklyn. Totally unrealistic that Vanessa would have schlepped to the East Village.

Amanda Lasher, writer/producer: Graham Collins was the name of my real-life unrequited crush in high school. Awesome getting it into the script, weirdly more awesome seeing it in the Reality Index: “Eric knows Graham Collins because he went to Camp Suisse with him. Plus 2, because there’s even a hot-dog ski tube on the homepage for this camp, which apparently Graham and Eric both spent some time riding. (“What happens at Camp Suisse doesn’t stay at Camp Suisse!”)” P.S.: I wound up stalking Graham on Facebook when I wrote this episode and learned that he is still crazy hot. If we are giving out points out, then Plus 10 to Graham for staying so hot and Minus 20 because he never even gave me a drunken pity make-out session in high school and I was cute enough for at least that. Also, I had a lot of fun researching Camp Suisse. It’s real! I want to go!

Jessica Queller: In the “Age of Dissonance,” they subtracted points for Blair’s Chekhov line: “I’m an actress. No, I’m a seagull.”!! They wrote: “Holy crap. Jessica Queller was clearly a double drama major in college. As in drama and DRA-ma. Minus 2.” They nailed me perfectly!!!

Dawn Ostroff, former CW president and namesake of the Ostroff Center: You changed our life, I want you to know that. You put us on the map in a lot of ways. I can honestly tell you that you had a huge influence on that show being a success. And I always thought you were very fair. There weren’t many times I thought you were that far off. But Stephanie and Josh will have things to say. They’re so particular, and they have excellent memories. Good or bad, they’ll carry the grudge.”

Natalie Krinsky, writer/producer: They are a gossip girl to our gossip girl and it’s just so STRESSFUL (as Serena might say) to have them follow our every move and report on what we’re doing right and what we’re doing wrong. It just feels like someone is ALWAYS watching us … waiting, looking over our shoulder … judging us! (Sarcastically/tongue in cheek of course … but … that’s kind of who they are — hiding behind their computers — commenting! Encouraging others to send in THEIR comments) … 

Faker Than Our Knowledge of Vietnamese

Stephanie Savage: As much as we loved when the Index or commenters mentioned something we felt the same way about, it was incredibly vexing when something we’d done was misinterpreted or didn’t come across. There were a zillion times I wanted to explain or clarify, to defend with documentation or at least narrate the process as to why we made a certain choice. The Dumbo-Williamsburg debate of 2007 (a.k.a. the Most Obnoxious Real-Estate Conundrum of Our Time) made me so ashamed that couldn’t keep silent, and I broke down and wrote a lengthy, sweaty reply to your query about the location of the Humphrey loft. Because it wasn’t like we didn’t talk about this stuff. We had giant fights in the scout van about Dan Humphrey’s transit route to St. Jude’s. We made the writer’s assistant call a marina to find out how people get their mail delivered when they are traveling around the world on a yacht. Asked a doctor what a bullet wound would look after a year of healing. And debated the characters’ astrological signs (B is a Scorpio, S is a Leo; which is why we always got to see B’s birthday but never S’s, which happened over the show’s summer hiatus). It is totally realistic that Chuck Bass would take the bus like he does in the pilot (weekday mornings, all the real-life CB’s gather in front of the Ralph Lauren store on Madison, waiting to ride to the Nineties). But we also kind of loved that somehow a 16-year-old being chauffeured around in his own stretch limo ended up seeming more realistic, because of who Chuck became as a character.

Zuzanna Sadowski, a.k.a. Dorota: Often the writers of GG would give me, as an actor, a tremendous gift. I would have something particularly funny to do, a spy mission, some high-level meddling, or even a new piece of wardrobe. On these occasions I would check the recap hoping to see this highlighted and sometimes Jessica and Chris would leave me sadly wanting! Thank goodness for the army of astute commenters who would never let me down. If I was ever in need of Dorota love I just had to scroll down.

Stephanie Savage: Most of the time, the commenters would catch and correct stuff themselves. (I did think quite a bit about creating a false persona so I could log on and do it myself, but the best names were already taken. I’m talking to you, FEED_THE_DUCKS, CHUCKISMYPUPPY, GINSOAKEDCECE, MACARONSANDSCOTCH and SCHEMINGWITHSCONES. Plus you guys are really hard on each other’s spelling.)

Zuzanna Sadowski, a.k.a. Dorota: I want to give a plus 100 to my favorite commentator often featured in the recap of the recap — Nikole0602. Just always funny. More importantly for me, a plus 100000 goes to the two commentators with the best names by far — IamDorota and Feed_the_Ducks. Plus 500 goes to runner-up Monkeyandmacarons. I love you guys.

Amanda Lasher: I gave you guys Blair masturbating. You gave me this: “Blair would have never referenced having to “finish something” to Dorota after her interrupted sex dream. That’s way too embarrassing. Minus 2. An additional minus 2 for Dorota reminding her that “God is always watching.” Dorota would never be that judgy — or perceptive. She’s a nun, isn’t she?” I expected more from you.

Stephanie Savage: Come on:  Gossip Girl never said that Blair shopped at Tally Weijl or Printemps in Paris. Just that it’s “chic and cheerful up on Boulevard Haussmann” (which it is)!  And we did try to observe the time difference between Paris and New York! The sun rises earlier and sets later in Paris than in New York! The Bart Bass event in The Revengers wasn’t at the Empire Hotel (it doesn’t look anything like the Empire!!), and we really did shoot on the roof of that building — our “Batman backdrop” was the city where you live! Why did none of the characters have iPhones? Because we had a deal with Verizon, who did not have a deal with iPhone until 2011 (after that, they had iPhones). Serena’s tranny talons in “The Last Days of Disco Stick” and Dan’s mushroom hair at the beginning of season five were both courtesy of movies they were shooting at the time. Why did you never see Scott again? Did you honestly want to see Scott??   

Eric Daman: It was mostly fun and cheeky, except when comparing one of Blair’s Oscar de la Renta gowns to curtain and couch tapestry … just jealous I guess. :)

Brittany Griffin, assistant costume designer: That gown was awesome, it did not look like curtains!

Stephanie Savage: Woke up in the middle of the night and realized: We did end up saying that B and S went into those stores on Haussmann!!  It wasn’t in the original script (which is what I remember), but it changed before it aired. So apologies for my outrage and kudos to whoever picked that up. Because yes.

In Total:

Stephanie Savage: The last Recap of the Recap is the final GG ritual. After it’s posted, the show will be officially over for us. As will the unique relationship — equal parts narcissism and masochism (I want to see what they said! … So I can feel bad about myself!) — we got to experience with our very own Greek chorus of snark. Many thanks for the years of vigilance and vigilantism, and for keeping us real with your weekly index. A bittersweet farewell to the Humfro, the cleavage rhombus, the NJBC acronym, and tarantula sex.

Dorota/Suzanna: I am so sad to see this show end. I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to play Dorota and to be a part of the zeitgeist of the UES. Thank you guys for pulling the show apart down to its very fibers, pointing up the detail, ultimately championing the whole and making it even more fun! I will miss you dearly. XOXO!

Brittany Griffin: P.S.: If you watch Carrie Diaries you’ll know why Vanessa was standing in a vintage-looking kitchen. Good eye.

Stephanie Savage: Oh, and also? That your own Vulture did not name you one of its Top 25 Most Devoted Fan Bases? We were all robbed.

Gossip Girl Insiders on Vulture’s Reality Index