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To write a successful storyline for this season of “Gossip Girl” is to have multitasking skills that would put a single parent octopus to shame. Though the show has a main ensemble cast of between 6 and 10 characters, each individual member of the show follows their own journey, a journey that will, at season’s end, culminate with all the independent narrative threads being woven together to make one complete story quilt. Add in the fact that the show’s primary audience is as diverse as Blair’s collection of head gear, and you can begin to see what a tough task lies ahead for these valiant wordsmiths. With this week’s episode, “Portrait of a Lady Alexandra,” the writer’s of “Gossip Girl” tried very, very hard to keep all their dramatic juggling balls in the air. Unfortunately, the effort was palpable.
In reality, the ‘no child left behind’ act might be viewed as a highly desirable move towards a better future. In TV land, however, not so much. “Portrait of a Lady Alexandra” simply took on a bit more than it could chew in its attempt to keep a number of extraneous story-lines perpetually moving forward. Sure, no character, and no demographic, was left behind– but it really felt like some of them should have been.
At this point, there are 4 clear divisions in the relationships of the show. In one corner, we have Nate and Serena bound together by their deeply inappropriate (and related) sexual partners. In another, Georgina and Dan make it their business to lose friends and alienate people. In the third corner rest Rufus and Charlie, intertwined in an eternal game of ’7 Minutes in Heaven.’ Finally, Chuck-Blair and Lilly-Bart occupy the fourth corner, supposedly brewing a multi-offensive war campaign, but actually just staring out of windows and brooding over glasses of scotch. In “Portrait of a Lady Alexander, ” many of these groups were brought to the same place at the same time and forced to interact. The thing with pulling threads in, however, is that it places equal emphasis on all the characters. And the thing with “Gossip Girl” is, some of these characters’ stories are just not that interesting.
To be more specific, Nathaniel’s financial strife and role as unwitting vessel for scandal– a position once taken up with great aplomb and unnecessary puns by Gossip Girl herself– is not only barely relevant, but also gives Chace Crawford more screen-time to be a terrible actor. Meanwhile, Rufus and Charlie took up some space on the episode, but the impact of their movements was both negligible and immediately reversible. Same for the complicated story involving Serena, her newest undeveloped love interest, and her mother.
Essentially, all the action was up to Blair-Chuck and Dan-Georgina. The latter pair made their big play only in the last five minutes. The former, on the other hand, were gifted some Big Themes– we’re talking politics, economics and (give it a few episodes) no doubt religion too. In any other show, Big Themes would indicate the potential for Big Payoffs. However, in a show where the action is also split between Serena’s vaginal inmates and Nate’s tragic lack of business acumen– surely caused by the fact that he doesn’t appear to have gone to a single class while he was registered at Columbia last season– really Big Themes most likely indicate a Lack of Substance.
Ah well, at least everyone looks good.