“I thought it was going to be the sort of Disney version of the books, really toned down and corny,” said Ms. von Ziegesar, the creator of the book series, which has more than five million copies in print. “A while back,” she added, “there was a script circulating, and the boys were playing polo in Central Park. And I was horrified, because that doesn’t happen. It was such a stereotype.” (From today’s NYTimes article, “Omigosh! ‘OC’ With Warmer Duds“)
True, prep school boys don’t generally play polo in Central Park, but to suggest that these books aren’t full of other stereotypes of rich NYC kids….well, not from my aged vantage point. But so what? The fun of The Gossip Girls series for me (and for my teen niece and her friends) has been the outrageous behavior and stuff that the kids have. Since I teach in an NYC prep school right down the street from the one that was the basis for Blair and Serena’s, I can say that the stories ring true — for a very, very, very narrow swatch of kids. I remember walking in that area the summer I first read the books and feeling I saw and heard them all everywhere in that neighborhood. And so I’m very curious to see how the television series turns out. Sometimes these end up far better than the books. I loved the television show, “Life as We Know It” and hated the book, Doing It on which it was based.
This stuff is fun fluff, harmless I would say. I remember way, way, way back when “The Simpsons” started, so many teachers and parents wouldn’t let their kids watch the show for fear of them getting bad ideas. Similarly, people worry needlessly about kids reading/viewing these books/series. Kids are smarter than we think — certainly my niece and her friends totally see the absurdity of these rich kids even as they get a kick out of their lives.
I have no idea how I’ll respond to the new series (although I’m curious that they have the unknown narrator voiced by a female — seemed to me Chuck was always the possible gossip girl — say I having not read the most recent ones in the series). I’m actually more curious about The Cashmere Mafia as that seems to also cover similar territory with slightly older folks. (They also filmed some of it in our school —a friend’s office was used as the head’s office so I’m curious if I’ll recognize any of it.)