The New York Times on Gossip Girl

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For adults, romances are variable, and friendship is the constant.

Privileged Youth reverses the equation: Love affairs are constant, and it's the friendships that vary. And matter most.

That is the essence of Gossip Girl, the semi-satirical portrait of power and privilege in the private schools and penthouses of New York's ultra rich, the New York Times says in a think piece.

It's often said that Hollywood is "high school with money." On this glossy, glamour-soaked CW series, high school is better than Hollywood.

Gossip Girl Girl-Fest

Gossip Girl, which had its Season 1 finale this past Monday, explores the un-navigability of friendships. Female bonding is punctuated by the joy and disappointments of dating, but the ruling passion is power.

The pride that comes with connecting with one's ilk and asserting control, as well as the scorching pain of rejection and ridicule.

Sex is easy; it's the cliques that take time and solicitude.

"You can tell us anything," Blair Waldorf coos to a distraught Serena van der Woodsen, hung over and harboring a shameful secret.

"We've seen you with vomit in your hair, making out with investment bankers in the men's room at P. J. Clarke's."

In a culture obsessed with youth, money and appearance, 16 is the new 30, and teenage girls' discontent about boys and clothes and one another has resonance even for older audiences.

Parents fret that youngsters grow up too fast; children complain that grown-ups refuse to grow old.

Gossip Girl goes further than most shows in depicting the excesses of the rich and underage (in this fantasy teenagers are never carded), but most of all it represents the next evolutionary stage of girl power TV after Sex and the City.

That pioneering HBO series, and the movie version that comes out later this month, celebrates girlish women who joined forces — "Us against the world" — in the pursuit of success and happiness.

Gossip Girl focuses on worldly little girls who join forces against one another. The series, along with such like-minded shows as the MTV semi-reality show The Hills and a cautionary senior edition, The Real Housewives of New York City are focused on friends, and most of all on frenemies.

They are so post-femininist that they circle back not just to Mean Girls, but to the pre-Friedan era of Clare Boothe Luce and Rona Jaffe.

It's not actually a step backward of course; it's more of a mischievous sidestep, a zig after many years of networks' zagging to catch up with Sex and the City.

That series' selling point was not just sex and clothes. It offered the charisma of four stylish, sexy women taking on Manhattan like D'Artagnan and the Three Musketeers.

None of the imitations, including Cashmere Mafia, a flop on ABC, and NBC's slightly more successful version, Lipstick Jungle adequately captured the tone of the original.

Continue reading in the New York Times ...

Steve Marsi is the Managing Editor of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Google+ or email him here.

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