Thursday, September 4, 2008

episodes: gossip girl, 90210 premieres

Gossip Girl: In a few words, unapologetically unoriginal. Here are a few more words.

Although I had seen a few episodes from the first season without ever feeling inclined to come back for more, I felt it was my pop culturalist duty to watch the second season premiere of Gossip Girl, a one-hour tween drama that steals plot from Desperate Housewives, The Prince and Me, and Dawson's Creek all within one night's episode. The premiere pretended like last season's finale never existed (Dan and Serena are back together by the end of the episode?), and there were too many ridiculous and implausible plots happening. I enjoy complex and interweaving plots (Magnolia is one of my favorite movies), but these plots were not complex and did not interweave. Little Jenny is an intern under a fashion guru who, after an improbable set of events (what's-his-face suddenly forgives her and takes her to the white party?), becomes conscious of Jenny's existence because what's-his-face introduced her to another designer. Nate is having an affair with an older married woman who is, you guessed it, married to an even older man. And I don't know which idea I like worst -- the notion that a teenage female in this role would be the seductress, or the idea that the older married woman is still the seductress but is now under the heading of "cougar" -- but I do know that this recycled plot is boring and never ends anywhere exciting.

Possibly the most ridiculous (and lazy) plot belonged to Blair, who is the only saving grace of this underwhelming and underperforming melodrama. She mistreats an average American pretty boy only to find out that, you guessed it, he's actually royalty posing as an average American. My mouth literally dropped open. Stupidest and most absurd twist ever. (But I do enjoy her chemistry with Chuck so, although I will probably only catch episodes by accident, I'm rooting for them.) The only half-way enjoyable plot belonged to Dan, who was working under an apprenticeship with his favorite author, but he gets fired by the end of the episode and this interesting career-oriented (translation: non-whoring) plot point disappears as if it never existed. So where are we? Back to where we left off. Chuck and Blair still want each other but aren't together. Serena and Dan are together. Jenny and what's-his-face are friends. Nate is off being an island. As for Serena, the so-labeled star of the show: she has to be the most boring character, both in personality and actions, I've ever seen on television.

Overall, a 2/10.

90210 (2.0): In a few words, poor dialogue matched with poor plot points. Here are a few more words.

The beginning of the two-hour premiere (which does not even try to mask that two separate hour-long episodes are pieced together as one) is the most difficult to sit through. The easiest way to ease into a show is for a character -- or in this case, an entire family of characters -- entering a new scene. They did this on Mad Men through Peggy's character, and they did it on Grey's Anatomy and Scrubs with first-year interns. But as the Wilson family settles into West Beverly Hills, the transition is anything but easy for the viewer. Everyone's role is actually said -- in words -- as opposed to being shown. Black character Dixon is a member of a white family, and he discusses with his white sister, "I don't want to have to explain my adoption story again to everyone." As if the audience couldn't infer that he's adopted. In the teaser sequence (before the titles), little daughter Annie refers her to father as "Mr. Principal" as if the audience wouldn't figure that out eventually. This is made even worse by the introduction of Jennie Garth's character by, ironically, Mr Principal who refers to her as "Ms. Guidance Counselor." Why-oh-why didn't Rob Thomas write this episode?

My problems with this show don't lie in the transparent sluttiness of the characters. Why does Ethan cheat on what's-her-face, and why don't characters ever talk their way through breakups? Whenever I've broken up with someone, I've given a reason, but on TV, the characters just go their separate ways crying. Annie flies out to San Francisco on a date with the Spring Awakening lead? I don't think so. No, my problems lie with how boring the show is. Sex is overdone; what this show needs is interesting characters. The archetypal characters are transparent as well, with almost a 1:1 relationship with characters from the original Beverly Hilly, 90210. And I was really dissatisfied with how this premiere acted as a made-for-TV movie rather than an episode. Everything was tied up nicely... except for the mystery cloud that is the father of Kelly's baby. I didn't care for any of the characters, the problems they dealt with were uninteresting, and I've seen it all before. I was extremely bored during this show. And don't even get me started on Spring Awakening -- what high school would put on a musical about teenage pregnancy, abortion, rape, child abuse, homosexuality, and death? The songs are great and the musical is contemporary, but it's highly unrealistic.

Overall, a 2/10.


Christen said...

hey my alma mater did "Rent: High School Edition" this summer... anything is possible.

keyser soze said...

By comparison, RENT is very tame. Jonathan Larson's show is about sexuality and AIDS. There's death and drug use, but it's still a spring picnic compared to Spring Awakening.

That's not to say that I don't love SA. Because I do.