I was thinking about a post my friend wrote about developing real characters (check it out at: http://coldopening.blogspot.com/2009/07/characters-arent-just-their-quirks.html) and it got me thinking about the characters on Gossip Girl.
Blair and Chuck are a couple of the best done characters I’ve seen in a long time. The reason for that is relatively similar and is in part because they are both deeply entwined with each other. What I like about them is the degree of character growth/change we’ve seen over the seasons.
Take Chuck first. Our introduction to Chuck is the spolied rich playboy. He gets just about any girl he wants and those he doesn’t get, he takes (as seen with Jenny’s attempted rape). And yet, as the show has developed, his character has change so much that many people have forgotten about the rape and are rooting for him. You can’t help but hope that he and Blair end up together (and not just because the two are equally conniving). We see him do so much wrong, but we also see where those things come from. And as he grows as a character, we do see him do good things, but he also doesn’t become perfect either.
Blair, at the same time, has her own ridiculous “quirks.” She is the queen bee desperate to hold on to her crown. Those issues come from being second best to Serena and the poor treatment from her mom coupled with extreme ambition. And most things she does are motivated by these desires but she’s not just a caricature either. She changes, realizes that popularity isn’t the be all and end all, finds someone to care about, learns about consequences. And as Serena and the others change around her, she is forced to re-examine herself and adapt.
Some of the other characters aren’t as fully formed:
Serena is a bit of a disappointment, as we’ve only really seen her good side and not the bad side and what made her change. Sure, they give us occasional glimpses, some things come back to haunt her, but always it turns out not to be her fault. And almost always she doesn’t act without prompting from someone else. The show needs to make her a somewhat more active character (and not just in her decision to seek out Gossip Girl). Even with that, I do enjoy her character because she’s really trying and yet everything seems to go wrong for her anyway. (I would just like more of her past.)
Nate, while meant to be trying to escape his riches, is lacking something, which to me feels like not enough reason why he’s so desperate to escape things. Sure, some things about his family are unfortunate, but it’s a little too generic-rich boy problems.
And the poorer characters are also somewhat stereotyped. Though having Jenny finally stand up for herself was refreshing (whereas her little spoiled tantrum for the fashion world was just irritating). . My issue is mainly that they all have the same issues with popularity. But the show seems to have hit its character stride in this last season, finally having the characters develop instead of stick to their original personalities. That being said, I’m excited for this season to begin. (And of course, Georgina has been fascinating and it’s a shame that she will only be around for 3 episodes. Hopefully they’ll bring her back. Which I guess means hoping Michelle Trachtenberg’s show fails, but really, how many nurse shows can we take?)
(For more on the show itself, click here.)