Take that, Nielsens. Turns out the mighty ratings system has met its match in a plucky freshman teen drama named Gossip Girl.
She may not have the biggest numbers, but raging word of mouth, mad style and a rules-rewriting DVR draw have made the CW's snazzy adaptation of the novels the stuff teen dreams are made of. Here are five things TV Guide loves (as do we) about a little show called Gossip Girl.
1. It's the smartest ensemble this side of Fashion Week.
Teen soaps usually have a weak link, but not in this cast. Blake Lively, as sassy Serena van der Woodsen, lives up to her name; Leighton Meester's broken-doll sadness saves Blair from bitch cliché; and Taylor Momsen is a find as the prep-school Eve Harrington nipping at Blair's well-heeled world. Chace Crawford's soulful Nate and Ed Westwick's snotty Chuck are hot as buds born of privilege, and Penn Badgley simply rocks as adorable outcast Dan Humphrey. The show's parents — namely Matthew Settle and Kelly Rutherford — are equally convincing. And hot.
2. Finally, a voiceover that doesn't make us want to scream.
Unseen overseer Kristen Bell's purr is the sexiest disembodied fun you can have without paying $4.95 a minute. Whether she's describing burlesque Blair ("no matter how long you try to be good, you can't keep a bad girl down") or Sunday brunch ("it comes with champagne, a dress code... and 100 of our closest friends"), even mundane tidbits sound delicious.
There's nary a bare midriff or baggy jean to be found on these stylish teens, who instead rock the classics — tuxes, frilly dresses, headbands — while Serena's boho-chic look leaves more to the imagination than most getups sported by girls her age. Here's hoping this teaches Gossip Girl fashion fans that high-end elegance trumps trashy any day.
4. Behold the joys of casual text.
Cell-phone pics, text messages, Guitar Hero showdowns. IMHO, no show has ever been so plugged in to how the IMing masses roll. And with this crew firing off updates on Serena's surprise return and snapping shots of Nate's secret clinches, they're the supercool weapon of class destruction.
5. Our iPods have never been happier!
Like Josh Schwartz's first dance with teen-culture vultures The OC, Girl goes to 11 with the tunes. Only now, it's Rihanna and Justin Timberlake instead of emo. "The idea is to do for pop music what The OC did for indie rock," says Schwartz, who sees a Gossip Girl soundtrack in the future. Until then, you know you love it... we do!