"Sex and the City" for teens? Critics slam "Gossip Girl"

Thu Jul 31, 2008 3:10pm EDT
 
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By Christine Kearney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Their wardrobes are full of designer clothes, they drink cocktails at New York City's coolest bars, dabble in drugs, have sex in places like the back of a limousine -- all while still in high school.

Hit U.S. television show "Gossip Girl," which follows the lives of students at an elite Manhattan private school, has been likened by critics to "Sex and the City" for teenagers, with salacious story lines and trend-setting fashion.

While it is not a big TV hit, boasting only mixed ratings, the CW network series has generated a strong Internet audience and buzz further fueled by a brash marketing campaign with billboard ads showing the teenage characters in steamy scenes.

Blake Lively, 20, who plays character Serena van der Woodsen, says even she is surprised by plot lines of the show.

"Everybody is dating everyone and sleeping with everyone and there's lots of scandalous stuff happening in the Upper East Side," she told a news conference. "Even I am shocked; I'm expecting my sister, that I don't have, to be my father."

Lively appears on the billboard ads, most of which show her in moments of passion with a male character and feature provocative text message shorthand such as "OMFG."

More recent ads, promoting the show's second season starting in September, play up criticism by parental and cultural commentators, using phrases such as "mind-blowingly inappropriate" from the Parents Television Council.

Lively told Reuters in an interview that the critics only feed the buzz machine that "Gossip Girl" marketers are constantly stirring to keep people talking about the show.   Continued...

 
<p>The cast of "Gossip Girl" in an undated photo. The show follows the lives of students at an elite Manhattan private school, has been likened by critics to "Sex and the City" for teenagers, with salacious story lines and trend-setting fashion. REUTERS/The CW/Timothy White/Handout</p>