The TV teen-drama series ‘Gossip Girl’ made significant waves when the first episode aired back in 2007. Showcasing the glamorous high-life of a group of young, wealthy socialites from New York, the series captivated audiences across the globe and continues to do so via Netflix, where all 6 seasons of the show are available to stream for your viewing pleasure. To this end, Gossip Girl continues to be one of the most popular series with younger viewers, some 11 years after its debut and 6 years after it concluded.
The numerous trials and tribulations of the flamboyant characters in Gossip Girl have played a significant role in the show’s enduring popularity. The viewer is intrigued by endless tantalising questions relating to the key characters.
Whilst the colourful characters and the storylines have undoubtedly been important in securing the level popularity that Gossip Girl maintains some 6 years after the final episode, the fact that the show was set in New York is also highly significant.
New York City is far more than a mere backdrop for the characters and storylines of Gossip Girl; indeed, the show is enhanced and enriched by the enduring global allure of the ‘Big Apple’. It was not the first show to benefit from the ‘NYC’ setting; the comedy ‘Friends’ acquired a similar appeal from the hustle and bustle of its Manhattan context and many other shows have benefitted in a similar way. 'Friends' is the most streamed show on the Netflix platform in 2018, some 14 years after the series concluded, outperforming all of Netflix's own highly popular offerings. To recognise and celebrate the contribution of Gossip Girl in showcasing the City of New York to the world, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced 26 January 2012 as 'Gossip Girl Day', citing the fact that Gossip Girl had done much to promote the City. NYC is central to the show in so many different ways, but Gossip Girl has been good for New York. I - for one - am a fan of the show because the NYC setting (of which I am a diehard fan) plays such an integral part of it. I am not alone in my passion for the City and the show; tourists in NYC are offered the ‘Gossip Girl Tour’ as one of the many ways of spending their precious time and money, primarily in and around the Upper East Side district of Manhattan, where many of the main protagonists supposedly live.
So clearly the characters and storyline play their part in Gossip Girl. The geography and aesthetics of New York City also play a role. However, the show dexterously leverages the rich history of New York City to bolster its appeal. The passion felt by so many around the world for the history of New York - the place, its people and its past – should not be overlooked. The producers of Gossip Girl clearly recognised this. They have seamlessly integrated the history of New York City into the show many ways – some are more obvious than others, but all pay homage to the exciting and rich history of the City and its five boroughs.
Thanks for reading. Visit us again over the next few weeks for my updates on Gossip Girl and its integration of the rich history of New York City!
Patrick O'Shaughnessy (@historychappy)
Co-Editor of Versus History
News from Patrick (@historychappy), Elliott (@thelibrarian6) & Conal (@prohistoricman)