I admit it, with a pretty heavy dose of shame, that I watch Gossip Girl. Regularly. I would love to say it all started in high school but no. In my first year of college my roommates convinced me to start watching and now I am pretty committed. Even if I happen to miss a few episodes I carve out a Saturday or super early on a weekday to catch up.
For those of you with better things to do on a Monday night let me give you the low down on the show. Gossip Girl takes place in Manhattan’s Upper East Side aka where all the rich folks and people on the Real Housewives of New York live. As with all CW and WB shows of yore, the show follows a group of young people who are filthy rich and a touch incestuous. They are all mysteriously 21 with the looks of a 27 year old, enrolled at pretty prestigious universities but never seem to go to class and the dim witted one of the bunch runs a whole newspaper, go figure. There’s all kinds of conniving, consequence free sex and crazy business going on.
At the end of December Blair is engaged to a prince from Monaco but is still in love with Chuck. To back up a little, Chuck is my absolute favorite. He’s a boozy, damaged creeper with a secretly wonderful heart. I liked him even before we found out he was not a bad person. So Blair finally decides to be with Chuck after at least half a dozen false starts. Naturally because this is a television show they get into a terrible car accident on the way to wherever. At the end of the episode we don’t know what happened to Chuck or Blair.
I actually missed the first half of Monday’s episode but I think I have the gist of it. Blair is totally fine and decides to continue on with the Prince and everyone is pretty darn confused except for the clueless Prince. Sidenote: the writer’s tried to make the Prince a little like Chuck but that didn’t really work out. He does not have the soft chewy, gooey center. Anyway, so the whole episode Blair keeps running away with Dan. Dan needs a haircut and is utterly annoying a lot of the time but him and Blair have a bizarre friendship.
So here’s why I am writing about Gossip Girl. Blair reveals to her best friend Serena that the reason she has been hanging out with Dan so much is because he has been taking her to church. Yes, church. Last time we saw Blair at church was because she was confessing about having sex with Chuck in a limo while she was dating another guy. While Blair was convalescing in a hospital after the car accident she made a vow to God. If God saved Chuck she would marry the Prince and never speak to Chuck again. Her promise barely has time to hang in the air when a nurse tells her Chuck has finally woken up.
I think her experience was sincere and real. I have also read enough of the Bible and Mesopotamian literature to know that you do not break vows to God. At the same time Gossip Girl’s inclusion of such a heart centered moment of prayer is almost laughable. It’s laughable because next week the gang will be back to their regular hijinx. I’m fine with a little Heavenly Father thrown into my regular weekday programming but I’m not fine with using Him to give a regularly ridiculous show a touch of depth. I understand that this was a deeply vulnerable moment for Blair but I could not help but role my eyes.
Furthermore, whenever I see prayer represented on television or film it is always a relationship of bargaining. “I’ll sacrifice all of my happiness for…” I have done my share of bargaining while I’m chatting with God but Prayer can be heaps more helpful. When we limit what prayer is in popular culture we limit how it is preceived and experienced for believers and non-believers. Prayer is so much more than that and I wish for prayer, and heck I’ll say a prayer about it tonight, to represented thoughtfully and magically in all the popular culture I love to consume.
Now that I have written about Gossip Girl and lost all of my feminist, smart, Catholic cred everyone should take the time to read these weekly Gossip Girl posts from New York Magazine, they are pretty hilarious.