Literature Review

By the entire group

Gossip Girl is a teen drama show with as much controversy outside of the show as there is inside of it. Narrated by the omniscient blogger “Gossip Girl”, the series revolves around the lives of privileged young adults on Manhattan’s Upper East Side in New York City. The series begins with the return of Upper East Side “it” girl Serena van der Woodsen from a mysterious stay at a boarding school. Blair Waldorf is a longtime friend and occasional rival of Serena’s, and the queen of Constance School’s social scene. The story also follows Chuck Bass, the bad boy of the Upper East Side; “golden boy” Nate Archibald, Chuck’s best friend and Blair’s boyfriend for many years. Other characters of the unsettled Manhattan scene: Dan Humphrey, Dan’s best friend Vanessa Abrams, and Dan’s sister, Jenny Humphrey. We have analyzed the different opinions, conversations and texts that have been generated about Gossip Girl and synthesized how the community of Gossip Girl viewers, like you, are responding to the show. To do this we looked at resources such as YouTube/videos, blogs, information websites and critical responses.

 

Videotaping and Recording

The invention of videotaping and recording also allowed for video blogging to become a popular choice of critique by fans and non-professional writers. People have an informal discussion through a video recording to let other fans and even show producers know how they were feeling about plot storylines, characters, and writing. Video reviews found on websites like YouTube range in their topic coverage; some review every episode individually while others covered an entire season. A specific Gossip Girl review on YouTube done by “Bookables” reviewed the entire series! YouTube viewers can also react to videos and create discussion boards with the creators. They are also easily viewed and comprehended, reaching a larger audience, because people are usually more willing to watch a video review than to read an entire article (aren’t we all lazy?). The viewers of these video responses also get a more lucid idea about the blogger’s opinions based on tone and mannerisms that might not be conveyed through written text. Overall, the video blogs tend to focus on character development, most specifically of characters Serena, Blair, and Dan. They examined the motives of each of the major characters instead of the specific plot lines for an episode and often glossed over the less significant characters. Additionally, video blogging is not as interactive as other resources because viewers only have the ability to comment in response to videos.

Personal Blogs

As social media grows, personal blogs have also created a community where Gossip Girl fans can gather (point and case!). These blogs contain a multitude of media in the forms of pictures, videos, forums, games, polls and more, encouraging the audience to express their opinions and create a consensus about all aspects of the show. While some focus on the series’ characters and episodes, others address their views of the production realm. This form of audience participation also varies in its closeness to the series, with some recreating the atmosphere of Gossip Girl and others focusing on the actors outside of their characters. Several themes arise within the blogs, including the character development, the relationships amongst the characters, fashion, and the attractiveness of the characters. For example, many comments of one blog stated they admire the character Blair, however they believe the character Serena “isn’t growing up.” The biggest conversation about the show, was concerning its ending. They managed to openly discuss previous major events, but conceal the details of the ending for fellow fans. Some of the bright spots from blogs are that it goes in depth into the relationships in the show and it allows for different points of view. Its major blank spot is that it doesn’t extensively talk about all of the show, making it hard for new fans to follow. Overall, personal blogs not only give the series’ audience a voice surrounding the show; it connects the show to their personal lives.

Wiki Page

Also a byproduct of the growing use of the Internet, an online fan base called wikia.com has become a popular place for viewers to react to specific shows. Wikia is an online site where fans are able to create a page about their favorite tv show, video game, movie etc. to give a synopsis or an opinion with regards to the show and put it on the internet for the world to see. Shows like Gossip Girl continue to have a wide fan base and to this day, even after the show has ended, they still have people updating the show’s fan page. Something interesting on the Gossip Girl wiki in particular is the extent the site goes into detail. People analyze every relationship between the characters and it is almost uncanny-like that people take the time to write all of this information down. At the same time, it is truly amazing that every single character, even one that was mentioned only once, has his/her own page on the Gossip Girl wiki. While the wiki is a very helpful and insightful site for the new viewers, it also has its dark spots. One major drawback to the wikia page is that anyone can edit the page. Flipping through the fan page, it was evident that some of the information was wrong, and we would know (being the most ultimate fans). Although there was not a lot of incorrect information, it is still difficult for people to read the website if there are incorrect statements. Nevertheless, wikia.com is a perfect website for people of the entertainment community to come together and to put their ideas out there.

Critical Responses

Contrary to the other forms of viewer community pages, there are far fewer critical responses in reaction to Gossip Girl, and thus they are much harder to find. After all, what could they possibly have to criticize?! In order to find the reviews of separate episodes, the viewers would need to search for each one individually. Looking at two reviews of the pilot episode from two different sources, it was easy to see the similarities and differences between them. The New York Times and The New Yorker both kept to similar guidelines while reviewing each the episodes. They both go through extensive detail describing the characters, but the authors don’t offer their personal opinions to the episodes. They both start off with a general summary of the episode and throughout the article, they both offer their opinion on how the television series compares to the books, which they agree on as well. They go on to compare the television show to others on the same network and others by the same producers, like The OC, and end with a general statement that will keep the viewers hooked on to the show for the future. All in all, the critics’ reviews seem to focus mostly on the plot, characters, and the ratings to the the episodes, rather than the reactions to the them.

Overall, the online resources for the Gossip Girl fans work well in combination with each other because no single resource provides the complete coverage of the information. One concept that most of the resources seem to cover thoroughly is the development of the characters throughout the series. Also, since the series has concluded, most of the information that is prominent on the different sources, are from the series finale episode. One major difference between the critical reviews and the personal blogs/videos is that they are not all located in a collective place. Personal blogs and the Gossip Girl wiki are also much more interactive than the video responses and critical reviews because they offer polls and discussion boards which gives the show a prolonged effect. Critical reviews and videos, on the other hand, give information that is more spontaneous and they don’t seem to serve a purpose after the show has concluded. Though they all have specific highlights, when used together, viewers of Gossip Girl can interact and create a community through the resources of personal blogs, Wikia, critical reviews, and video blogs.

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