Taylor Momsen: New York's New "It Girl"

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The young woman who approached the table by the window at the Pinkberry on Eighth Avenue and 18th street was nervous, breathless.

She was sorry to interrupt, and sorry to be a bother, she said. It was just that she just loved Taylor Momsen sooooo much.

The just-barely-15-year-old Momsen, who plays aspiring social queen bee Jenny Humphrey on the CW show Gossip Girl, gave the woman — who looked to be at least in her mid-20s, and was clutching a napkin and shaking like a whippet in winter — a warm, practiced smile and helped her locate a pen and piece of paper so she could sign the autograph on something suitable.

Miss Momsen

Taylor Momsen scribbled her name with a girlish flourish and offered a friendly wave goodbye as her fan skipped elatedly out the door.

It’s a regular occurrence now for a girl, who, over the summer, has become the obsession of a strange and ragged slice of New York.

Even as her co-stars have ascended the ladder of celebrity gossip-worthiness— the golden-locked goddess Blake Lively and the impressively sideburned Penn Badgley have had a very public romance, while the dandy-dressing, secretly English Ed Westwick has hardly been shy about his carousing — Momsen has emerged as the show’s true It Girl: admired, lusted after and, of course, scorned.

  • Girls and young women covet her fashion (which ranges from bright, simple and sophisticated to mix-and-match punk).
  • Boys and men — in their teens, 20s and beyond — can’t help but be drawn to her beauty (even as that fact could make them uncomfortable).
  • And there are the requisite haters, too, so unnerved by Ms. Momsen’s uncanny poise and sudden ubiquity that they can’t help but snipe at her.

As photos of her — on location for Gossip Girl, making the rounds at parties and movie premieres, riding the subway around NYC — pop up on celebrity news blogs and websites, they’ve also collected captions and comments snarky and vicious enough to be straight from the cell phone of Gossip Girl’s eponymous blogger.

“Our thanks to Taylor Momsen and Ali Lohan for making 14 the new 35,” wrote a commenter on Gawker, under a photo of the actress in a froofry yellow frock at the Fifi fragrance awards in May.

Captions for other snaps have included “Little Bitch Stops for Itch” (this was later changed) and “Taylor Momsen Forgot her Pants.”

But is it Taylor Momsen we love to love, and love to hate?

Or Jenny Humphrey, who practically ran away with the show last season as she plotted her path to the top of the prep school food chain?

Taylor Momsen understands how people get confused.

“It’s funny because I forget that I look the same — you know, that I look the same all the time,” said Ms. Momsen, as she spooned original-flavored Pinkberry yogurt covered in Fruity Pebbles into her mouth.

“I have two different modes: I have my on-set mode, and then I have my mode with my friends and family. My Taylor mode. And when I’m in my Taylor mode, I forget people still see me as Jenny. It takes a minute.”

If we can’t remember, it may be because we don’t want to.

She may be a teenage social-climbing bitch, but Jenny Humphrey has lifted Gossip Girl from sudsy teen drama to genuinely gripping television, and brought us the most lovable villain we’ve seen in ages.

Continue reading in the New York Observer ...

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


Gossip Girl Quotes

And who am I? That's one secret I'll never tell ... You know you love me. XOXO, Gossip Girl

Gossip Girl

[to Jenny] That's the thing. You need to be cool to be queen. Anne Boleyn thought only with her heart and she got her head chopped off. So her daughter Elizabeth made a vow never to marry a man. She married a country. Forget boys. Keep your eye on the prize, Jenny Humphrey. You can't make people love you, but you can make them fear you. For what it's worth, you're my Queen. I choose you.