Mean girls

Digging the Gossip
By SHARON STEEL  |  October 1, 2007

VIDEO: A preview of the CW's Gossip Girl

Josh Schwartz loves filming scenes where his simpático underdog punches a nasty and absurdly rich Yeah Dude in the face. Really, who doesn’t love a good, stereotypical boy fight? Here’s what else Schwartz likes to do: cast unbearably sexy brunette actresses with mean streaks, blonde co-stars who look old enough to be moms, blonde moms who dress young enough to be their daughters’ sister, and “outcast” guy-next-door types who are hotter than the token “hottie”; portray underage drinking and drug abuse; throw in at least one verbal-cum-emotional bitch slap per episode. In fact, Schwartz makes many of the same choices on Gossip Girl (CW, Wednesday at 9 pm) that he did on his first hit show, The O.C., which completed its four-season run last February. Gossip Girl is The O.C. reborn, except we’re chilling with the untouchables of Manhattan instead of Orange County.

At least now I have an inkling of what Marissa Cooper would be like if she were an Upper East Side WASP instead of a beach babe. Her name would be Serena van der Woodsen, the most-talked-about subject of an on-line socialite blog, Gossip Girl. It’s the Gossip Girl who’s telling this story (voiceover narration . . . by Kristen Bell!): the anonymous editrix on the inside who sees all, knows all, and tells all. Two weeks ago, we met Serena (freshly exported back to the city from a Connecticut boarding school) and her best friend, Blair (a bitchy Summer Roberts look-alike). Serena got her slam on with Blair’s boyfriend, Nate, which is why she ran away from NYC in the first place. Assorted other members of their elite prep-school gang surface and start making power plays, including Chuck, the disgustingly wealthy slimeball. Plot lines collide when Dan Humphrey (the nü Seth Cohen) enters as Serena’s puppy-doggish love interest and Dan’s sister Jenny does her best to assert herself as Blair’s little protégée.

Last week’s follow-up to the premiere episode, free of the limitations of character set-ups, took the scandal-o-meter up about 50 notches. The following happened around or before noon during a nice Sunday brunch: Blair smilingly informed Serena that she is a backstabbing whore witch; Serena apologized and it just made her look older; Blair tried to lose her virginity to Nate in Chuck’s hotel room; Dan shoved Chuck — hard!; Dan found out that Serena’s mother was slutting it up with someone else’s dad; Dan got it into his thick but handsome skull that Serena is kind of a ho’, just as everyone was saying in the first place. Poor Dan. Too bad he doesn’t do as cute a Seth Cohen impression as Adam Brody. Probably because, uh, he’s way too beefy to play a convincing Seth Cohen. But maybe he can date Rachel Bilson now? Perhaps she’ll guest-star next Wednesday.

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