Gossip Girl November Sweeps Schtick Predictably Trashy

omfgNov. 10, 2009 No, I didn’t watch the heavily promoted Gossip Girl ‘threesome’ shock schlock last night that sent the Parents Television Council rightfully into a tizzy, but frankly I didn’t need to, as the whole ‘provocative’ ploy is summed in two words, “sweeps week.”

The vapid values trotted out in the ‘skankwear’ with stilettos crowd is pretty par for the course on the CW, but Gossip Girl clearly has a gluttonous appetite for purposeful controversy (and has from day one, just check their ongoing ad campaigns). That’s part of why I didn’t want to take the ‘bait’ and ‘react’ only to fan the flames and play into their own hands.

Nothing quite like ignoring the drek to let it quietly sift to the bottom of this particular cesspool of a media pond in order to let the stench stagnate without making a ripple. CW knows the teen motivators well, ‘the more you ban it/admonish it/censor it’ the more appeal it has to kids, so I stayed silent. (direct actions to advertisers are the best route)

Still, there’s a media literacy angle here that needs to be unearthed and shouted from the rooftops, because the more people know how the ‘game’ is played, the quicker parents know how to deflect and protect with strategic aplomb sans over-reaction, and KIDS learn how to don heavy shields in the battle for their own tender hearts and minds amidst vampy, trampy pop culture cues.

As I mentioned to Margo Millure of Life in the Short Lane, (our guest blogger after the jump) I always tell parents who crow, “oh, my kids aren’t allowed to watch that” to ask an open-ended question about the series or a character and see how thorough the response is…

ggYou’d be surprised how much leakage of this poorly written dramarama has seeped into the mind pollution of teens that don’t watch it, nor even care to, but have caught enough of the episodes to be conversant (online/at friend’s houses) in order to trade in ‘cultural currency’ on the absurd antics of some of this sensationalized swill…

There’s little to no accountability or responsibility from the industry end, so it shouldn’t raise an eyebrow when teens and younger spew OMG and crass WTF-isms to teachers and pals, and think nothing of disrespecting, lying, cheating, conniving or gossiping to or about anyone, (peers and parents included) as that’s being set as a normative benchmark in the scripts to fuel ‘drama’…

Quel surprise, media producers. We reap what we sow, eh? Take one look at Michele Borba’s new article out called “Mean Girl Scene Get Meaner What Parents Must Know”

May the fleas of a thousand camels infest your armpits for perpetuating affluenza redux and every catty/mean girl stereotype known to humanity, bleh…

Fan of the show? Um, sorry. My blog, my brain. You can find your GG compadres over on some celebutante media mix, plenty of ‘em to choose from. (I’m open to civil discussion and differing points of view, but trolls and flamers can take a hike…)

lizzie mcguireIt’s getting commonplace to ratchet up the raunch and flame bait teen shows these days but frankly, the whole ‘threesome’ bit is as overdone as a leathery steak, and the fact that they tossed in Hilary Duff for tween/teen titillation has me rolling my eyes and mumbling in thought bubbles like a retro Lizzie McGuire episode.

Wow. Even in 5 years time look at the visual of teen depiction and how it’s changed; she looks SO wholesome and natural and dare I say it? Like a GIRL instead of a 13 going on 30 phenom so common to our urban wallpaper and ambient surround sound of late…

Students themselves are harkening back to shows of yesteryear, like this treatise on 90210 and other ‘teen soaps’ titled, “Teenagers Are Not the Same Anymore” noting that teens ‘then’ were positioned as inexperienced whereas now it’s all about ‘sex as power.’

Says alot about how we’re fouling up youth psyches and accelerating a meaningless and barren emotional landscape…sure not the cultural zeitgeist I want for MY child coming into the dating years…sigh.

In this IMDB descriptor about the ménage à trois you can share my ‘finger in the back of the throat’ moment reading the prose,

“On pins and needles you sat last night trying to get wrapped up in Jenny’s (Taylor Momsen) drama however we know you were waiting for the Omg moment! For weeks, Gossip Girl (TV) has hyped this episode because three of the main characters will do something not ever seen on The CW. It happened in the last ten seconds of the episode and it was well worth the wait considering who was involved!”

Puhhhhhhhhlease, spare us all.

dareC’mon now, if you’re into edgy exploration of sexuality and sensuality, a much more authentic snapshot of teen angst is the Sundance Film Festival hit “Dare” which opens in NYC and L.A. Nov. 13…

It tells a profound high school coming of age story with complex underpinnings and yes, even an artistically executed subtext and ‘three-way’. (Ypulse screened it in June at their National Mashup, here’s an interview with the creators) If I were the Dare filmmakers I’d feel a bit ripped off in the ‘shake it up, do something you’re afraid of’ exodus from high school being trumped opening week by a cheesy, elementary PR stunt like Gossip Girl…sheesh.

How tacky. Exploitive even. They even borrowed from The Bucket List concept to boot. Get an original thought, Gossip Girl.

So far, my favorite write up has been this one on Poptimal that gives a pithy and glaringly accurate review of the vacuous series itself not to mention the one particular ‘hyped’ incident described:

“It comes about when Olivia (Hilary Duff) finds out she has to return to her acting career for the series of films that made her famous so Dan and Vanessa try to show her what college is truly like by completing a list of “15 Things To Do Before Graduating” article before she leaves.

After some binge drinking we learn that Ms. Duff can act drunk about as well as she can act any other mood, which isn’t good if you’ve been keeping score. But her character is adamant to complete the list, which ends with a threesome. The three of them share a few looks, each kiss each other, and then naturally the show cuts to commercial with only a brief scene at the end showing them all sound asleep.

A surprise at the very end hints at drama to come but if you didn’t expect that you probably haven’t realized by now that soap opera-esque drama is all this show has to keep it alive. To ask for depth or believable characters would obviously be asking too much.”

Cue applause. When did primetime teen TV devolve into ‘binge drinking 3-ways’ with former Disney idols on the pillows?

How low do we go before we finally begin to see the trickle down impact this crud is having on kids’ psyches?

Thankfully, there are more media mavens besides me flashing their “I’m not a prude, but…” disgruntled cage rattling. Now here’s our guest ‘mama bear’ who gives ‘em “what for” quite well…

This Goldilocks gal is quite impressed, but it seems we now need to rally the cubs themselves to roar loud and clear so the networks will hear. Say it with me, Howard Beale fans…shout from the windows!! You know the words…;-)

Mama Bear’s Panties Are In A Wad Again

by Margo Millure


I am a 40 something female and mother to two teenager girls. To my husband’s chagrin, we consume, ie – buy stuff, somewhat majorly. In spite of the bad economy, our credit card bills prove we’re sure doing our part to improve it.

It’s doubtful anyone in Hollywood gives a damn how I feel about anything. But I’m here to tell you I see myself and those who share my views on many of the products that are aimed with laser-like precision at teenage audiences – particularly female – as a new “inconvenient truth.”

All  Mama Bear asks is that you please stop sexualizing younger and younger women.

I think girls have it pretty hard these days and have to put up with a lot of garbage being shoved into both their conscious and subconscious minds. As a group, I don’t see where young women have moved either forwards or backwards in recent years. Actually I sometimes think the whole world’s headed straight towards hell. For the record that doesn’t make me a right wing wack job. I know you love absurd generalizations, but that doesn’t even make me part of the right wing.

The other day I was all over Teen Vogue. Today it’s that charming little show called Gossip Girl, which since day one has billed itself, quite effectively and accurately as “a parent’s worst nightmare.”

Grab a hard hat, perhaps a xanax and Tivo a few episodes of The Good Wife. Big Announcement: I don’t want my teenagers, or anyone else’s to be  exposed to an episode of Gossip Girl being referred to by the CW network  as  a “Very Special Threesome”

The upcoming episode was also promoted this way: “three major characters having sex. At the same time. In the same bed. Together.”

My first reaction, in Gossip Girl, xoxo vernacular is, WTF?

The Parent’s Television Council has sent a letter asking CW Network affiliates to preempt the next “Gossip Girl” episode on November 9, which will feature major characters in a sexual threesome.

Aspersions were cast on “The Parent’s Television Council” more often than not in internet editorials and news articles. The tone overall was dismissive, speaking of parents “getting panties in a wad” or “sheets twisted.” Some subtle. Others, not so much.

Newser’s headline was Parents Council Freaks Over Gossip Girl Threesome. Frankly I’m thrilled there’s a group who “freaked.” Use of juvenile verb aside, the article describes the PTC as being on “the warpath.”

Southern Baptists, Scientologists, moonies,  gays and lesbians, members of Ducks Unlimited, PETA, the National Rifle Association or the Junior League – whoever you are, I applaud you.

My daughters and I have talked about this ridiculously titillating show before. I watched an episode or two with my then 15 year old during the first season. We mostly made fun of the absurd content, which features elite Manhattan high schoolers acting like elite Manhattan 28 year olds. We talked about it. I asked questions, listened and put in my two cents.

To my knowledge, neither of my daughters are watching the show this season. But you can bet that I’m going to be double sure when the episode is scheduled to air on November 9. A letter from PTC head, Tim Winter, acquired by The Wrap states:

“To include a storyline like this on a program that is expressly targeted to impressionable teenagers is reckless and irresponsible. We are asking each CW Network affiliate to use their common sense and preempt this episode.”

In reaction and after referring to the PTC as a “right-wing political action group”,  The Wrap, in an editorial at the online journal about the entertainment industry article says:

“Targeting teens wouldn’t make sense for The CW, since there’s far more money to be made attracting women 18-34 — the network’s declared demographic. Disney Channel and TeenNick are more likely targets for advertisers looking to reach teens and tweens.”

Yeah, right. The show is about kids in high school.

The article’s author must not have two teenage daughters both of whom received their first Barbie dolls from well meaning friends on their first birthdays.  He’s probably never been clothes shopping with them, where each trip to the mall is a challenging exercise in avoiding skankwear that should only be worn by 4 and a half foot tall street walkers.

Proctor and Gamble selling soap during As the World Turns to housewives is one thing. Selling to children is quite another. Up until around age 21 and in a manner that will confound them a year or two later,the youth demographic desires nothing more than to feel and perhaps even be, older.  Think of Gossip Girl as the television version of having a popular older brother with really cute friends.

We are most comfortable preaching to our own personal choirs, leaving the heavy lifting to other people. So am I going to call up my affiliate station and ask them not to air this episode of Gossip Girl? Nope. But I’m glad that somebody, whether it be a group or an individual did. Something that is this personally alarming should rouse the action of somebody. And if I’m not feeling quite as “alarmed” as I should? That in itself should give concern.

I’d love to think that every impressionable young woman out there has a parent, friend or family member, who watches over what television shows they consume. I’d love to think that Hollywood will stop pushing the envelope of reason when it comes to targeting young audiences with degrading sexual and violent images. I’m sick of hearing, “no one is going to make you watch it.”

My message to Hollywood? Stop making soft porn that you know full well will end up being consumed by teenagers.

Pushing the envelope is not impressing me.  I compare you to the proverbial bad kid in kindergarten, the one who pushes and hits and knocks down everyone’s blocks.

Without pause you ruin the good things that others  have carefully built in a matter of mere, reckless seconds. You immediately start talking about your rights, unable to grasp the concept of the rights of others. The principal is left with no choice but to make new rules. Everyone loses.

How about a few more shows that my whole family can enjoy, where I don’t have to keep a finger poised over the remote as if playing a video game, always ready to switch to The Weather Channel?

If you’re listening and care what I think, please make high quality, non-violent, non anti-female (thought I was going to say pro-female, eh?) shows while you’re at it.

Hint: The Good Wife is a great start. Just to prove it, I’m going to go out and buy something they advertise tomorrow :)

margoMargo Millure is a  former journalist and magazine editor who is reaping the rewards of finally learning to say “no.” It’s hard turning down all those $50 writing assignments, but the flip side is she currently gets to write about whatever she wants at her blog, Life in the Short Lane. She is also at work on several book projects in various stages of completion. She lives with her husband and two teenage daughters in South Carolina. Besides her family, her favorite things in life are laughing uncontrollably, 70 degree weather, and getting into conversations with equally contrary people. The best place to reach her is margo AT lifeintheshortlane DOT com.

Thanks, Margo…and don’t miss Margo’s  equally compelling post about the pregnant Teen Vogue cover/media mamas titled, “Rather My Daughters Not Consider the Latest Teenage Accessory” Amen to that one times two. 😉



  1. Nickey Robo says

    Without going into a further discussion, I’d just like to point out that most of the characters on Gossip Girl are now in college (including the three that had a threesome). So your statement that “The show is about kids in high school” is not entirely accurate, and I think changes how inappropriate the subject matter is.

  2. Hi Nickey, Thanks for taking the time to comment…The show is not about kids in high school, the show TARGETS kids in high school…It’s a fine line, albeit an important one.

    CW will claim their demographic is ‘intended for 18-34’ but we all know good and well that 15 year olds are the ones being targeted to watch it. The data is there. The stats are there. The Nielsen Ratings are there. Point being, the ‘age compression’ and ‘aspirational marketing’ is very strategic and profound…

    It’s the same argument for Miley Cyrus, because frankly, she’s 16 and I LOVE lots of her work (particularly “The Climb”)…BUT we have to face the facts that when she acts out in mass media performances doing the whole pole dancing-hoochie mama-Teen Choice Award bit, it’s landing on the VERY young kids that follow her on Hannah Montana sideways from a role model/aspirational standpoint.


    You and I both know it’s NOT THE 16 year old peers being impacted as much, since most of ’em ‘could care less’ and not even blink, or have ‘seen much worse.’ (no doubt a whole heckuvalot much worse 😉

    But then we erode to a devolved debate about ‘how lo can you go’—and lowest common denominator issues of impressionability…

    Know what I’m sayin’? There’s impact here big time on how this crap is landing on high school (& even middle school) girls. CW needs to own it.
    .-= Amy Jussel´s last blog ..MyVetwork: Connecting The Digital Dots For Veterans Globally =-.

  3. @ “How low do we go before we finally begin to see the trickle down impact this crud is having on kids’ psyches?”

    You know we’ll be screaming it from the rooftops until
    SOMEONE hears us. It’s not just harmless little shows. All media is educational… for better or worse, kids are learning from this crap even if they don’t realize it.

  4. Michelle Trachtenberg of Gossip Girl is the most beautiful, she is better than Blake Lively.-;.

  5. i really like michelle trachtenberg on gossip gilr, she is nice and pretty ***

Speak Your Mind