Confessions of an EW Parent: 'Gossip Girl' edition

Gossipgirl_lHere it is: My teenagers watch Gossip Girl.

Okay, pile it on: I’m a crummy parent. My kids oughta be taken away from me. Yada, yada, yada. I heard it all last year when I wrote about the Gossip Girl paperbacks I found spilling out of my daughter’s backpack. I didn’t like the books — in fact, they appall me — but I figured she was reading them for the same reasons all of us read dirty books at that age: We learned from them. And yet the absolute amorality of these tales of prep school privilege gave me pause — the rich girls blithely spent money, shoplifted, had sex, did drugs, and viciously torpedoed other girls, all without any comeuppance. (Where, for God’s sake, were the parents?)

So is the TV show any worse? Well, for one thing, the sex, though certainly plentiful, isn’t as graphic — or so I thought, until I saw ads for the new season. (See page 19 of EW’s April 18 issue for an example.) But the very existence of the TV show reinforces the franchise in kids’ minds. The show makes the books stronger, and vice versa. I know my informal poll doesn’t count for anything, but I certainly see more of the books around than I used to. And how about the fashion? This is high school? These are adolescent girls? Not in my town, and certainly not at my daughters’ school. Where we live, girls aren’t allowed to dress like they’re employees of a strip club. (Pictured: Leighton Meester as Blair.)

I know what you’re going to say: Don’t let them watch it. But we’re looking at colleges already, and that makes them old enough — and mature enough — to make their own decisions. The most I can do, as a parent, is talk to my kids about the show (and the books), and express my problems with Serena, Blair, and crew. And you know what? Since their surly adolescent phase is over, my daughters are willing to have that discussion with me. We’ve dissected the show twice already, and I’m sure we’ll do it again. If the show had been around when I was 17, I probably would’ve watched it, too. As it was, I had to make do with copies of The Other Side of Midnight and The Happy Hooker.

addCredit(“Gossip Girl: Eric Liebowitz”)


Comments (59 total) Add your comment
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  • Lauri

    Sorry Tina, I feel for you. I wish I had some wise words of wisdom for you but I don’t. I don’t watch Gossip Girl, I watched about four episodes and decided that it was way too racy and I’m twenty years old. I can only imagine what it’s like for someone younger. It’s scary to think this is what our youth is watching. It is TRASH plain and simple.

  • stephanie

    My 13 year old sister watches it (I believe without parental supervision); I’m 18 and I watch it. And I don’t think my parents are bad parents. They’ve taught us good values. GG is just a lot an escapist piece of fun. It’s not going to ruin us or most people who watch it.

  • b0bbyr0we

    This reminds me of when Dawson’s Creek came out, the GG of my middle school years. My mother read an article about it before it premiered recommending that since kids would watch it anyway, parents should watch it with their kids and let it act as a good way to start conversation. Of course this just meant that my mom ended up just as addicted to DC as my sister and I. The “discussion” was, hilariously, my mom shouting “Don’t have sex!” and laughing at the end of each discussion on which characters were getting frisky.
    Also, I’m 22. Telling that story and realizing that these kids probably thing Dawson’s Creek was so quant make me feel so freaking old.

  • b0bbyr0we

    This reminds me of when Dawson’s Creek came out, the GG of my middle school years. My mother read an article about it before it premiered recommending that since kids would watch it anyway, parents should watch it with their kids and let it act as a good way to start conversation. Of course this just meant that my mom ended up just as addicted to DC as my sister and I. The “discussion” was, hilariously, my mom shouting “Don’t have sex!” and laughing at the end of each discussion on which characters were getting frisky.
    Also, I’m 22. Telling that story and realizing that these kids probably thing Dawson’s Creek was so quant make me feel so freaking old.

  • Snarf

    My seventeen year old cousin watches this – we bond over the ridiculousness of it all and have a good laugh.

  • Zoot

    GG this week prompted a discussion of what a date rape drug is with my teenager. A discussion I probably should have scheduled but hadn’t thought of it yet. As far as I’m concerned? They’re only dealing with stuff we probably should be talking about with our kids anyway. Or at least that they’re talking about at school.

  • mscisluv

    Thank you, Zoot! Even though these shows may seem ridiculous, they deal with real issues that our teens may have to face. Great for you that you had that discussion with your daughter, especially since it would have probably not come up without the show to prompt it.

  • Natalie

    I don’t think letting your children watch GG is a problem. It’s television, as long as they know that then i don’t see the issue.
    On a side note, Blair doesn’t dress like an employee of a strip club…in fact none of them do.
    If that picture is what you’re going off you realise she’s at a swimming pool. If it’s not…are you sure you’ve actually SEEN the show?

  • Kel

    I’ve never read the books, but from the tv show…I’ve watched and read way worse. Obviously, some people are going to be offended, but it isn’t a bad show. The characters are not really glorified for doing bad things. I am 21 and I’ve been reading books that have sex in them for years. As long as whoever is watching it can distinguish between reality and fiction, there really shouldn’t be a problem.

  • Silv

    Tina, I’m with you. My daughter’s 19 and too busy to watch this but we had our discussions with other shows/movies. My son’s 15 and can’t be bothered with this show when sports are on, but he does comment the girls in his grade are totally into this show. Sadly, I don’t think they’re getting the point of your discussion.

  • NineDaves

    the 26 year old gay man here has no clout to make a statement on whether kids should be watching/reading GG or not. what i can say is that the books are much worse than the tv show, so if you are going to expose your kids to anything, i’d go with the cw.

  • Rose Tyler

    Listen if you have given your kids a strong foundation it won’t matter what they see on tv. I really believe that at a certain point you have to let go and trust that you’ve given them the right tools to see this kind of thing as entertainment and nothing more.

  • RayT

    I think GG is clearly set in a fantasy world. Does the average 14-year-old girl who watches this show really have the option to mimic S.&B.’s behavoir by having gin martinis at their sleepovers, stopping by the burlesque their 16-year-old friend owns, stealing their friend’s mom’s vintage Valentino or staging queen bee coup d’etats at upscale eateries? As a college-aged fan, I think parents should be more worried about the consumer values GG instills in their kids (along with most other teen shows in the 90210 genre like The OC, Laguna Beach, the Hills, etc.) rather than the drugs/booze/sex. You child is much more likely to pick up terrible spending habits from GG rather than a cocaine habit.

  • GG

    I think u r way 2 overrotective. I mean, get a life already! U looked in ure daughters backpact to see the books she was reading!!!! GET A LIFE.I am 22 years oldand when I was unger my mom wuld nvr let me see Dawson’s Creek. I watched it anyway in my room. Then. umm…I wasnt scarred for life or anything..I mean…It IS TV.
    I myself come from an EXTREMELY WEALTHY family on 5th ave. and Sutten. I went to amazing private schools and am now in Harvard. THESHOW IS NOT LIKE REAL LiFE IN THE UPPER EAST SIDE> GET A LIFE!!

  • PissPoorEducation

    To GG: man, I guess the education system in this country is way more broken than I thought. For being a very wealthy, private school and Harvard-educated person, you sure have terrible spelling and grammar skills. I could barely read your post. I guess money can buy you anything, eh?

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