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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Tuesday, May 21

Gapers Block

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On Gossip Girl last week, a shocking secret was revealed; two, if you count Eric van der Woodson coming out of the closet, but that one was easier to predict. Eric's older sister, Serena, had received several anonymous and inappropriate presents — a box of sex toys and X-rated DVDs that she mistakenly opened in front of her family and her boyfriend Dan, crates of champagne delivered in her name to her prep school, an envelope of cocaine — that she thought were from her soon-to-be-stepbrother Chuck. Turns out the "gifts" were from an old "friend" named Georgina. Georgina returns to the Upper East Side, and Serena seems terrified of her yet is unable to stay away from her former partying partner. Even after Georgina roofies Serena's drink (causing the latter to miss her SATs), moves in on Dan using the alias Sarah, sends Serena a video that sounds as if a wasted Serena was taped without her knowledge fooling around with a guy, and outs Eric to his mother and sister at the dinner table, Serena continues covering Georgina's lies. At one point, Serena offers the "if I'm going down, you're going down with me" ultimatum, but it obviously doesn't stick. Serena finally spills the beans to BFF Blair, not wanting to involve her best friend but broken by Blair's unwavering support and love, all the more powerful because of the pair's recent reconciliation. Serna blurts, "I killed someone," and her confession is immediately underscored with a shift in music symbolizing the HOLY CRAP intensity (watch the scene here).

I admit that I did not see that plot twist coming. I thought it was a mere sex tape scandal. I may have covered my mouth with my hands with shock and glee at the reveal. My presumptive guess is that Serena was being physically assaulted and reacted instinctively to the danger to herself or someone she knows. However, after the initial OMG moment — which the show had been promising in a controversial ad campaign — I realized that I had seen this scenario before. A few times.

I never watched The O.C. on a regular basis, but I do remember the hubabaloo at the end of Season 2 when Marissa Cooper shot Ryan's brother, Trey. Earlier that year, Trey had attempted to rape Marissa. He later apologized but then threatened her to never tell Ryan. Marissa told Summer who told Seth who told Ryan, who goes to confront his brother. Marissa sees the two of them fighting, and as Trey is about to bean Ryan in the noggin with a motel phone, Marissa picks up Trey's gun and caps him in the back. If you think the song cue after Serena's admission is over the top, check out the video of Marissa shooting Trey. Oh, FOX, stay classy. Trey survives, but Marissa's mother blackmails Ryan to say Ryan pulled the trigger. Trey eventually leaves town with neither Ryan nor Marissa in any trouble with the law. Just like in real life!

Is there some reason Josh Schwartz, who created both Gossip Girl and The O.C., needs or wants his blonde female teen heroines to kill people? True, Marissa was saving Ryan's life and I have no doubt that Serena also acted in self-defense, because as lowbrow at The CW can be, I doubt they want the ideal character on their most buzzed about show be a cold-hearted killer. Perhaps Schwartz was inspired by the gold standard herself, Beverly Hills 90210's Kelly Taylor. Taylor was long out of high school when she was brutally raped in the show's ninth season, but the situation is similar. She shoots and kills her rapist in the season finale, and her lawyer boyfriend has all of the charges dismissed by the first episode of Season 10. The next several weeks had her dealing with the aftermath of the rape and murder, which is more than several soap operas do.

And killing rapists isn't just for blonde girls. In a poorly conceived story arc on the otherwise stellar show Friday Night Lights, geeky — and blond! — Landry saves bad girl Tyra Colette (also a blonde) from a man who had attacked her several months previously. In the panicked aftermath, the two dump the body into a nearby river and swear never to speak of it. Landry is tortured by guilt, though, and even after his cop father figures out that his son is involved and destroys evidence, Landry turns himself in to the police. The situation is quickly determined to be self-defense, no charges are filed, and no one mentions it again or leaks it to the public. It's the small-town secret that actually stays a secret, which makes the storyline even more implausible. It was a weakly executed way to get the two characters involved on a deeper level, but this cliché rarely plays out well.

Georgina reminds me of someone I knew in high school, by the way, but there wasn't any murder involved. Young adults do admittedly stupid things and make the wrong choices — that's part of growing up — but nowadays it's far too easy for someone with a cell phone or digital camera to capture those moments and make them public. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I thank Zeus often that there were no cell phones, video cameras, YouTube or the Internet in my high school and college days. It's bad enough my friends remember and remind me of that stupidity. It's also too bad that Gossip Girl's has already trotted out the murder/cover up storyline so early in its run. Let's hope it's not a complete waste of time, pretty clothes, and even prettier actors. You know you love me. xoxo

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About the Author(s)

As a child, Dee Stiffler was only allowed to watch one hour of television a day. She usually chose Sesame Street. Today, she overcompensates by knowing far too much about the CW's lineup as well as pop culture in general. Email her at

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