Bart Bass is back from Billionaire Island or whatever, so it’s time for the Basses and the Van Der Woodsens to become a family. Because Lilly and Bart got married last spring, and you know the rule about when both the bride and groom enter the marriage with children from previous relationships, the man must go away on a customary six month-long business trip, and the woman must flirt with the ex-boyfriend of her daughter. Classic family stuff. Anyway, now that Bart is back, he and Lilly have agreed to impose some family rules, like eating dinner together on Fridays and weekend curfews of 1AM. Serena immediately acts the bitch about it because of how everyone’s always keeping her from shining the way she was supposed to shine or something. What is wrong with her? Besides everything? On the walk to school, she asks “what’s next, no TV before we finish our homework?” which actually seems like another totally acceptable rule for a parent to make in considering that these are CHILDREN, to which Eric responds “who watches TV on a TV anymore anyway?” OH ZAP! This show busts all my favorite snap disses that are so dope when I’m swinging on the flippity flop with my T-Mobile Phonekick. And that’s fresh.
Can we talk about Serena for a second? I wanted to do this last week, but now that her nightmarish self-absorbtion has extended to her family, I really think it needs addressing. I guess the main problem is the question of are we supposed to actually like her? I feel like we’re supposed to like her. She’s the show’s heroine, right? But she’s so unlikable! At least in the first season she was unlikable because she was boring, but this season I actually feel like an old man cringing at the dangers of a poorly constructed role model. The whole special snowflake who can’t be told what to do by anyone and who is willing to stab her best friend and her mother in the back in a momentary rush of vengeful fury is so despicable that the only way this show could recover from this Serena fueled madness would be to give her a moment of redemption in which she makes amends to everyone for her recent rash of unacceptable behavior right before having her head cut off and buried in the ground. Only then will we viewers have closure.
Chuck tells Serena that the reason Bart made up the family rules was to help him close a deal with a Midwest company, because that’s how business works. So Serena dresses up like Jennifer Lopez’s nightmare and goes out clubbing in an act of retaliation. Now I will agree that it is despicable for a parent to manipulate his or her children in order to achieve selfish or financial ends, but with children like Serena and Chuck Bass it might not be that despicable, especially when the manipulation is STOP ACTING LIKE YOU’RE A 35-YEAR-OLD UNMARRIED PR REP FOR RED BULL AND VODKA. Also, Serena keeps comparing Lilly’s acquiescence on the “family rules” thing to all of the other dramatic changes in parental policy that she made in her previous relationships, like when the whole family was moved to Chamonix because one of Lilly’s former husbands wanted to ski year round. You know, for a private school-educated future Yale student, Serena is retarded. Because those are not comparable at all.
Everything comes to a head at the Bass-Van Der Woodsen open house party announcing their familyship to the world, where the world is apparently In Style magazine. Ooooh, In Style! You don’t say! (What? Who cares about In Style magazine?) Serena thinks that Bart told Eric that he can’t bring his boyfriend to the party, but in reality Bart was just warning Eric that maybe he didn’t want to come out to the whole world (remember world=In Style magazine still). Then Serena realizes that the person she’s mad at isn’t Bart but her mom, so she publicly excoriates her in front of everyone (everyone=two reporters from In Style magazine) and runs out of the party. That’s when Lilly realizes that you can’t just be a family by telling In Style that you’re a family, you have to actually be a mother to your children. Bart brings Serena back to the immaculate penthouse apartment, and Lilly apologizes for 17 years of abandoning her children, and everyone is a family, because that’s how that works.
MEANWHILE, Vanessa is trying to save Jonathan Lethem’s favorite bar, the Brooklyn Inn, from being demolished, and she decides the best way to do that is to blackmail Blair with her cameraphone pick of the Lord and the Duchess (Remember them? Barely!) making out. What? Vanessa must really want to save the Brooklyn Inn if she’s willing to abandon everything that has defined her character thus far in a weird act of aggressive manipulation. Blair is so mad that she has to pass out flyers that she makes a deal with Chuck over martinis (because they’re juniors now or something, and upperclassmen drink martinis) that he must “seduce and destroy” Vanessa, and if he succeeds then he can seduce and destroy Blair’s vagina as his reward. The rest of the episode is Chuck Bass trying to prove to Vanessa that he’s not the scumbag that she thinks he is by buying the Brooklyn Inn, but then Blair gets jealous, and then Vanessa decides that Chuck’s a scumbag after all even though she totally witnessed his father being hurtful to him in the kitchen, and then Chuck and Blair are about to totally do it but Chuck demands that Blair tell him that she loves him? Then he leaves her with whatever the girl version of blue balls is by saying that he’s done chasing her and it’s time she chased him now. Fine with me. They always say that the chase is the most exciting part of the relationship, and it’s especially true when it’s not your relationship and you have no actual desire to watch two medium-grade actors pretending to be teenagers who barely even like each other having exaggeratedly mature and proficient sexual intercourse. Chase away, babies!
And of course, with every episode, there has to be some tertiary plotline that is so boring. This week, it’s Dan Humphrey’s continuing friendship with Nate Archibald that results in Nate living at Dan’s house. Sure. It’s not a plot contrivance at all because it’s totally normal for the fallen scion of a high stakes embezzler to be abandoned completely by his mother as he lives a squatter lifestyle in a fifth avenue mansion only to be invited to stay in a Dumbo loft for an indeterminate amount of time. It would be a plot contrivance if it wasn’t so REALISTIC.
For awhile there I was worried that this show was not living up to its contractual agreement with
SmartVITAMINWater. But it is.