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The Original ‘Gossip Girl’ Ate Episodes of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving — aside from being one of the most offensive and antiquated colonial holidays celebrated in this God-forsaken country — is also a time of unbridled family chaos.

Drunk aunts share at the kitchen table. Siblings and cousins ​​come home with secret spouses, hidden pregnancies, and new ways to disappoint the family. There are explosive political discussions and heated games of Uno, and maybe even the revelation that your 17-year-old cousin is having an affair with a congressman.

Oh wait, that’s no trivial anecdote, it’s a central plot point of the hit teen series “Gossip Girl” from the mid-2000s. Say what you will about the a cheesy, objectively white, and sometimes poorly acted show about hyper-privileged teenagers, but one thing “Gossip Girl” always got right was the seasonal Thanksgiving episode. As the release of the second season of the “Gossip Girl” reboot looms, it’s clear that the original will continue to be superior in its delivery of deeply entertaining Thanksgiving episodes.

Based on Cecily von Ziegesar’s bestselling book series, “Gossip Girl” is a six-season chronicle of drama and gossip between a group of elite fictional teenagers on New York’s Upper East Side. The show follows the main characters of it-girl Serena Van der Woodsen, Queen Blaire Waldorf, millionaire playboy Chuck Bass, American heir Nate Archibald and lonely boy Dan Humphrey as their private lives are revealed by a blogger anonymous, Gossip Girl.

While other teen shows phoned it turkey day, “Gossip Girl” delivered convoluted but compelling storylines, complete with iconic soundtracks. The core family drama we all associate with Thanksgiving was compounded by the elite status of the characters. These Thanksgiving episodes ultimately laid the groundwork for the events of the rest of the season, undoing the tradition of the disposable holiday episode and bringing in a quasi-religious audience all at once.

Throughout the series, viewers accompany the ride as the core team navigates the world of socialites, college admissions scandals and petty romances with a revolving door of elite guest stars, including Hilary Duff, Lady Gaga, Florence Welch, Tyra Banks and Ivanka Trump. The show’s developers, Josh Scwartz and Stephanie Savage, used a mix of character-driven storylines and vivid dialogue to initiate viewers’ connection between their favorite characters and the allure of seeing the power of glamor and style. access from inside.

Like the show reputation as subversive and risque teen content grew, and so did its audience. At the height of its popularity, the show garnered over 3.7 million viewers every Wednesday at its 9 p.m. timeslot on CW. The show’s popularity followed it across streaming services and the successful restart in 2021 on HBO Max.

Now more than ever, the nostalgia and drama of the original release rings true. The legendary episodes of Thanksgiving have been both after a lot of jokes and the catalyst for community criticism. The show’s ability to appeal to the audience’s own experiences with family vacation drama, while raising the stakes with outrageous levels of immorality and literal privilege teenshas not yet been returned by its reboot.

Each Thanksgiving episode begins with an almost sinister promise of drama from the all-knowing voice of Gossip Girl herself, Kristen Bell. Season 4’s Thanksgiving episode, aptly titled “Gaslit,” begins with a chilling statement of thanks: “Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday. As always, I will give thanks for the wealth of secrets I have harvested from you this year.

Gossip Girl sets the stage for the immediately heartbreaking shenanigans that ensue. In this episode, Serena was drugged, kidnapped, and framed for looking like she had bendered (which is not at all irrelevant to her). Her attacker is the sister of her former boarding school teacher, Ben, who went to jail for bogus statutory rape allegations filed by Serena’s socialite mother, Lily.

This is just the fundamental storyline of the episode. With quick cuts, stills of New York in the fall, and fun pop musical transitions, the episode follows Blair and Chuck as they deal with the fallout of another of their many breakups, Dan’s sister. , Jenny, as she struggles with her banishment. from New York State for a major infraction against Blair, and Dan crawling to Serena’s knees for the thousandth time. Absolutely fascinating.

Anyone can write an engaging plot if given the proper material, but what makes these episodes so special is that they lay a vital foundation and set the tone for the rest of the season. In season 4, Serena’s relationship with her former boarding school teacher becomes a major storyline for the rest of the season, which in turn affects the trajectory of the rest of the characters and the series as a whole. While other shows churned out pithy excuses for storylines and mistaken the holiday episode for an excuse to slack off, “Gossip Girl” was sure to make the most of its airtime and deliver on its promise of a truly appalling, almost horrifying drama.

This promise has been sown in previous seasons. Season 3’s Thanksgiving episode, “Serena Madre’s Treasure,” is an epic standout. Serena is having an affair with a congressman who also happens to be Nate’s cousin. This creates a messy love triangle that only intensifies as Nate not only deals with romantic feelings for Serena, but also comes into possession of footage of Serena and the congressman kissing in an elevator. .

Elsewhere, Dan, aka Penn Badgley, aka Lonely Boy, aka Joe from “You” (what an absolute blast), faces unrequited feelings for his longtime best friend Vanessa after having a threesome with her and his girlfriend (played by Hillary Duff).

Blair does her usual storyline, as she suspects her fashion designer mother is pregnant. To tie it all together, Lily Van der Woodsen, the family matriarch, turns out to be in contact with Serena’s estranged father. Gather everyone at the dining room table, plus the congressman and his wife who, coincidentally, are also friends with Lily, and you have a regular, messy “Gossip Girl” Thanksgiving. Queue Jason Derulo’s 2009 chart topper “Whatcha Say”.

Each of these episode elements proves a major point of contention until the end of the season. There are no filler storylines and no character comes out unscathed. It’s just good, old, messy family and teenage drama. Even with the barriers of circumstances of extreme wealth, viewers bonded with the endless family disputes and secrets revealed in these incredibly entertaining episodes. Presumably because, in a way, they themselves understood or experienced these conflicts.

All of these elements are heightened by the soundtrack of fire in each episode. Season 1’s Thanksgiving episode, “Blair Waldorf Must Pie,” begins with Nelly Furtado’s iconic “Promiscuous,” setting the tone for the certifiable bangers for each subsequent Thanksgiving episode. From Jason Derulo to Britney Spears, “Gossip Girl” introduced a generation to the music that would become a cultural staple.

The Thanksgiving episode of the 2021 “Gossip Girl” reboot was a sad emulation by comparison. With a new head writer, a dragging plot, sluggish dialogue, and the top forty tunes, little could save it but a few cameos from actors from the original series. The reboot is set to return for its second season on December 1 on HBO Max. Regardless of surviving the reboot, I’ll spend my vacation avoiding my own family drama by immersing myself in the heartwarming and outlandish storylines of the original “Gossip Girl.”