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TV Series Review

What happens when you have a trust fund at 17 and millionaire parents whose self-absorption rivals any preening adolescent? Teens are tuning in to Gossip Girl to find out.

Based on the racy young-adult novels by Cecily von Ziegesar, CW's Gossip Girl began by chronicling the exploits of über-privileged Manhattan adolescents—though the television show has long exhausted its original playbook. While the novels ended with the principal Upper East Siders heading off to college, the series followed them there, documenting their (ahem) growing maturity.

Sometimes we do see signs of growth from the girls: Serena van der Woodsen, once a boozy, drug-addled adolescent queen bee, is now struggling to reform her wayward ways. But for the most part, the only time we can use the word adult in conjunction with Gossip Girl is when we're talking about the content. Serena rival Blair Waldorf continues to prattle and scheme. Newcomer Juliet Sharp backstabs and blackmails. And the rest of Manhattan's beautiful, moneyed and still painfully young ruling class drink martinis, smoke joints and find themselves shuttled from party to party by limo.

It's all documented by an anonymous and nearly omniscient blogger known only as "Gossip Girl."

Soapy, syrupy, silly and sappy, Gossip Girl has tried its hardest to be one of network television's raciest programs—punctuating 2009 with an episode featuring a sexual threesome and scads of unduly provocative advertising. (One full-page ad bragged that The Boston Herald called the show "every parent's nightmare.") Such efforts often bury whatever merit any particular episode might have. Which is a shame, because Gossip Girl, however fleetingly, does have some.

Gossip Girl has never been a ratings winner, and each season the number of people watching it has shrunk, to the point at which fewer than 2 million people now regularly tune in. But the program's influence far outstrips its ratings. CW says it's the No. 1 show for women ages 18-34. And for three years straight, the Teen Choice Awards has honored it as television's Best Drama.

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Blake Lively as Serena van der Woodsen; Leighton Meester as Blair Waldorf; Penn Badgley as Dan Humphrey; Chace Crawford as Nate Archibald; Taylor Momsen as Jenny Humphrey; Ed Westwick as Chuck Bass; Kelly Rutherford as Lily van der Woodsen; Jessica Szohr as Vanessa Abrams; Katie Cassidy as Juliet Sharp






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