If you’ve been following the post–Gossip Girl career of Ed Westwick, you’d know that his television track record in recent years — a dull serial killer in Wicked City? Some random drug lord in Snatch? — has been mediocre at best. And it’s a shame. Look at that face! Listen to his accent! Westwick’s a talented guy, but finding the right role has proved to be difficult after playing everyone’s problematic favorite billionaire, Chuck Bass. Not anymore, though.
This spring, BBC Two debuted the six-part series White Gold, a comedy set in the 1980s that showcases everything that made us attracted to Westwick in the first place: He gets to be alluring and smarmy, yet underneath his devilish exterior is a relentlessly quotable man with a well-tailored wardrobe and a decent heart … and he gets to keep his natural accent. In other words, the series could very much be retitled Chuck Bass: The Parallel Universe Essex Years. If you’re still not convinced White Gold is worthy of your time — it’s now streaming in full on Netflix — allow us to convince you in a few other ways.
What exactly is the “white gold” in White Gold? And how’s Westwick involved with it?
In classic British fashion, the premise of the series is unconventional yet amusing in nature: Westwick portrays Vincent Swan, the head salesman at a window showroom that specializes in double-glazed styles. (The plastic is the “white gold,” because it’s ridiculously cheap to manufacture but sells for a fortune.) Able to turn on the charm offensive at any given time, Vincent is a conniving sonofabitch who knows how to effortlessly sell windows to potential customers like no other — so despite his expletive-laden monologues against his “aerated condom” and “weasley fucker” underlings, he can get away with them because of his untouchable sales. “Wanna know the percentage of people who sleep on it and call you back? A big, fat, fucking zero,” he explains in one of his many fourth-wall-breaking speeches during a house call. “Salesmen are like vampires. Never invite one into your home. Once you do, we won’t leave your side until we taste blood. Not even for a piss.”
So he’s part Chuck Bass, part Don Draper, part Frank Underwood?
That’s a good way of putting it, and it certainly helps that he’s out of the constraints of the CW’s zero-tolerance cursing policy. This pep talk he gives to his two employees — played by the delightful Joe Thomas and James Buckley, of Inbetweeners fame — pretty neatly sums up who he is: “We never rip off anyone in our town. These are our neighbors, our friends. We always sell our windows at one price. A fair price. Sometimes over, sometimes under, but always at one price.” The people who pay more? “Dickheads. The terminally stupid.” The people who pay less? “No one, if we can help it.” The one thing Chuck, Don, or Frank would never do, though, is literally piss their pants, which happens to Vincent in one bizarre scene early on.
Is there a Blair Waldorf equivalent?
Not really, but can anyone really serve as a suitable stand-in for Blair? (No.) Vincent is seemingly happily married to a woman who has two kids from a previous marriage, but, in a classic plot deviation seen many a time on Gossip Girl, he has no problem lounging around with some hookers, Champagne and cigarettes at his side. He also seems to be a genuinely decent stepfather despite his somewhat sporadic presence, showering the two kids with thoughtful presents every now and then. (Shout-out to the snazzy Sergio Tacchini tracksuits of yesteryear!) He’s smart enough to know that he needs those “cheeky little monkeys” to like him, and keeps his work life, home life, and philandering life separate to the best of his abilities.
How are we first introduced to Westwick?
He’s wearing some red briefs, rockin’ a gold chain, and dancing alone in his bedroom to “Gloria” by Laura Branigan. It’s … very nice.
Six episodes might not be enough to fill my Bassian needs.
Good news! Due to its popularity overseas, BBC Two recently announced that it renewed White Gold for another six-episode season — and it’s going to revolve around the unscrupulous sales trio abandoning windows in favor of selling timeshares in Spain. We’re also promised that Westwick will be frequently sporting many pairs of “tight swimming trunks.” It’ll debut sometime next year. Praise the heavens!