Soap operas and TV series are literally unknown to avid television watchers until the late 1970’s up to the 1980’s. This part of television’s history started and established the first few TV series which phenomenally broke television program ratings due to their perceived attractiveness especially to the home-based mothers who comprise the majority of the TV viewer population (Tworek, 2009). This gave people the idea of what a soap opera actually is like and how engaging it is.
In these times, series are most likely to appear on day-time television when mothers are usually left at home as their children are at school and their husbands at work. However, although this decade provided some impressions about soap operas and TV series, its definition continued to change and evolve through the years. Thus, the viewer or audience profile of such soap operas and TV series has evolved as well as the audience’s viewing attitudes.
Nowadays, the definition of TV soaps and series is definitely way different from how it was during the 70’s and the 80’s, as the types of TV programs expanded to cater not only to mothers but also to those from different age, gender, and cultural groups. Today, what appears to dominate the television viewership are the primetime TV series which also appear to cater to vast types of audience, including grown-ups, mothers, fathers, teenagers, kids, and even the elders.
Some of these programs delve into social issues, real life stories, women’s roles in the society, and interestingly, about the very controversial and complicated life of teenagers. This is just one of the most interesting topics and focus of primetime TV series today. These soaps usually star young actors and actresses portraying the very interesting and dynamic life of teenagers in this day and age. In one way or another, these programs also appear engaging as they talk about the unknown yet real stories which take place in a teenager’s life.
However, the fascinating thing about this kind of series is the choice of themes which usually include girls, relationships, heartbreaks, funs, controversies, and the eternal interest about gossips. In talking about gossips, the first TV series that would surely come into an avid primetime TV viewer’s mind would be that show which opens with the peculiar tune that goes, “Oh-mi-God, Oh-mi-God, Oh-mi-God. DanDanDanDanDan. Go-talk-to-him, go-talk-to-him, go-talk-to-him! ” (Pressler & Rovzar, 2008).
This tune introduces every episode of this popular TV series, and this unique sound truly defines nothing else but the well-liked Gossip Girl series. This opening tune has kept a lot of women’s eyes glued to their TV screens every time an episode of this very controversial and talked-about TV series is aired on CW channel. Truly, today’s primetime television’s definition would never be complete and sufficient anymore without having to mention this very renowned TV series. What is Gossip Girl? Gossip Girl is a primetime TV series seen on CW which is based on an equally popular novel series by the author, Cecily von Ziegesar (Maynard, 2007).
The plots basically revolve around the stories told by a mysterious blogger who updates the New York City Upper East Side elite teens on what is going on within the very dynamic social circuit of New York City. The mysterious personality and appearance of the blogger-gossiper has remained unknown throughout the series, but the voice of this invisible narrator told every single story there was about the Gossip Girl series. The show mainly features the life of an elite group of teenagers who go to St. Jude’s High School at the Upper East Side of New York City (Mili, n.
d. ). The seemingly all-knowing gossiper, whose identity has been kept unknown to the viewers, updates everyone in the very controversial vicious circle of elite high school teens about the newest and the most interesting gossip scoop. In a nutshell, the web of stories narrated in Gossip Girl delves into the controversial, interesting, and to-talk-about issues concerning the lives of the popular personalities in the story’s setting points. The story is made up of a very interesting line of characters.
The dynamic lives and viewpoints of these young characters give much color and vibrancy to each episode of the series. The “It girls” in the story are Serena van der Woodsen, played by Blake Lively, and Blair Waldorf, portrayed by Leighton Meester (Mili, n. d. ). Serena and Blair are self-pronounced “BFF’s” or Best-Friends-Forever. However, this friendship has been a popular topic of gossip and controversy as both of them share a common elite crown and popularity among all of the Upper East Siders. These two main faces of the series belong to the influential and popular part of the social circle of St.
Jude High School—which is the part of New York’s population commonly associated with endless cocktail parties, fashion, affluence, appearance, and social class (Mili, 2009). These are basically the reasons why they are the most typical topics of conversation, or what this series widely consider as gossip. Aside from these two It girls, two guys also color the show with their relationship with the series’ main girls. They are Chuck Bass played by Ed Westwick and Dan Humphrey portrayed by Penn Badgely (Mili, 2009). These two equally attractive characters add some spice, thrill, and romance to the world of Serena and Blair.
However, since gossip appears to be an inexorable part of their world, Chuck and Dan also appear to be two of the main causes of the issues being gossiped about Serena and Blair. Aside from these four very controversial and gossip-prone characters, there are other interesting characters who also contribute to the powerful cast such as Chase Crawford who plays Nate Archibold, a son of a cocaine addict, and Taylor Momsen who portrays Jenny Humphrey, Dan’s sister who is forever trying to be a part of the high school’s inner and more popular circle (Mili, 2009).
Clearly, this line of characters presents what appears as the youth of the contemporary world. Being depicted as the youth of the modern New York City, these teenagers, portrayed by very talented actors and actresses, reflect how the youth of the modern days struggle and fight to be accepted and recognized in their social circles. As a result, the show touches and inspires many lives of the real-life teen-high schoolers as well. This specific part of the population is where Gossip Girl appears to have the most effect and impact on since this is the part of the over-all TV viewership population who watches the show.
This can be quite understandable since this population has the most probability of reacting and relating to the show as it stars characters of their age. Also, it appears understandable to see this part of the general TV audience hooked to Gossip Girl since the topics the show explores are essentially the topics of their concern as well. The Success of Gossip Girl In 2008, average American TV viewership was found to still reign over all types of media use with a rate of 127 hours per month versus the 26 hours per month rate of the internet users (Baker, 2008).
This statistical evidence implies that even though internet has been seen to grow rapidly overtime, the television still remains as the most influential media where people get information and entertainment. In relation to this, several statistical studies have also been conducted to find out the influence of TV programs depending on their viewer ratings. With regard to one of the most talked about primetime TV series, Gossip Girl has already achieved a 2. 5 average viewership rating when it debuted in September of 2007 (Fitzgerald, 2007).
Aside from this impressive debut rating, the widely talked-about series also received several positive feedbacks and comments from TV critics and viewers. The show has been tagged by Teen People Magazine to be a program which resembles Sex and the City but reaches out to the younger viewers (Canan, 2006). From the novel itself, the story has already achieved a lot of positive comments from its readers because of the very interesting and unique twists and turns which are qualities that have proven to be the appealing factors of a literary work.
In the same way, the TV series was also found to depict such very vibrant, thrilling, colorful, and dynamic scenes which explore the scandalous yet very glamorous world of an elite teen in high school (Ziegesar cited in Canan, 2006). The success of Gossip Girl can indeed be measured through these ratings and audience feedbacks; however, the factors which gave Gossip Girl this phenomenal appeal seem to be hardly enumerable in number.
First, the potential of the series of being a “hit” and a “phenomenon” can be observed to come from how it touches the lives and experiences of the youth who are actually the majority of the world’s TV viewing population today. As mentioned earlier, the success of the TV series may also be rooted in the artistry displayed by the talented author that gave birth to its main story. In some ways, this artistry involves the muddle of scenes and events in the story and the personalities and the identities of the characters woven and molded by the author.
Hence, Gossip Girl appears to be a successful combination of literary artistry and imagination combined with the realistic portrayal of teenage life experiences which touch the very active and lively youth of the modern days. Ethical Issues Involved in the Series Although Gossip Girl has acquired several positive reviews from its debut in 2007, more and more seemingly negative reactions have been surfacing throughout its first and second seasons. Most of these negative reactions root from ethical and moral issues involving the themes, topics, and advertisements featured by the show.
To start with, the show has made the expression OMG (Oh My God) as one of the most popular text messaging expressions there is in the world today. However, this expression, just like any other, has evolved with time and turned into OMFG, a more profane and morally disturbing version of OMG, which was also made popular by the show (World Net Daily). An article published by the World Net Daily (2008) reports that CW Network is being disturbed by the claims that the channel was actually tolerating and making the unbridled sexual and profane scenes, pictures, and topics exposed to the sight of the very young viewers.
Several parent advocates were reported to stand up and make some disturbance in the seemingly smooth and peaceful airing of the show. These parents claim that the show is actually promoting and advocating several appalling behaviors that teenagers might disturbingly engage in. These disturbing and offending topics and themes which the show is said to depict are drug use, drinking, veering away from education, disrespect to elders and authority, lavishness, and casual sex. The Parents Television Council or PTC argues that CW must have been aware of their social and moral responsibilities when they chose to air this kind of program.
Melissa Henson, director of Communications and Public Education for the council, reasons out that since the younger audiences are more vulnerable to be influenced by the things they see on TV than with adults, TV networks must therefore be sensitive about the message their programs are presenting (cited in World Net Daily, 2008). Aside from the scenes and dialogues presented in the series, PTC was also disturbed by the print and online advertisements posted by Gossip Girl. This reaction was stirred by the show’s advertisement posters which display ethically and morally upsetting pictures, one of which features a guy kissing a girl’s cleavage.
PTC has expressed its disappointment that the network had to use such promotional strategies which involve rampant glamorization and popularization of promiscuous sex, uncontrolled drinking and smoking habits, as well as unpleasant attitude towards education. Henson even added that the network does not seem to care enough about the risk and consequences of such portrayals and presentations (cited in World Net Daily, 2008). Considering these claims, it might appear that the program’s success also has some drawbacks and disadvantages as more critical eyes are focusing on it.
However, in the case of Gossip Girl, it is quite understandable that such innumerable moral questions and criticisms would arise since the affected audience involved is the very sensitive and vulnerable youth. General Impacts of Gossip Girl to its Viewers Ever since Gossip Girl started in September 2007, a lot of high school girls have adopted the expressions such as BFF which stands for Best Friends Forever, OMG which is Oh My God, OMFG which is the more profane version of Oh My God, and XOXO which apparently turns out to be an internet slang which means “hugs and kisses.
” The fans and avid viewers of the show use these expressions as much as the popular characters of Blair and Serena use them. This is just a slight peek on the huge effect of the show on the behavior of its viewers. Gossip Girl has revolutionized a lot of societal issues there is today. For one, it has changed the way teenagers perceive high school. Normally, an average kid would think of high school as a place for learning and as a gateway to higher education. However, Gossip Girl apparently portrays such as institution to be a platform where the society’s most glamorous, fabulous, and talked-about personalities are the main focus.
Aside from this, it has also changed the world’s impression about the term “bitch” which was previously used to depict a woman who cares less about the moral laws of the world. The series depict such a word as a name to describe any woman who is strong enough to stand against another woman and fight her views. As it appears, these are some of the most interesting factors which have made a lot of teenagers engaged in viewing the show regularly. It undoubtedly offers a lot of surprising and thrilling scenes which reflect the struggles, dilemmas, triumphs, and romance a high schooler typically goes through.
Also, it presents a different look in television which offers a sense of youthfulness, vibrancy, and excitement in the audience’s primetime TV viewing habit. In several ways, it appears evident that the audience of Gossip Girl is attracted to the series because of the perceived relation it has with the realities of teenage life. Although a lot may think that Gossip Girl is nothing but a show which presents the rich and snobby teens, the series is undeniably more than that.
It presents an intricate web of events and life experiences depicting true instances in today’s teenage life. It also realistically features the risk and consequences the young generation of today may face as a result of each choice and decision that they make. Moreover, it also presents what really underlies the youth’s struggles for belongingness and societal acceptance which is actually an essential factor which can aid the today’s society—which appears to be very critical and watchful of today’s youth—in understanding the younger generation.
It presents the reality that teenage life is not as easy as it looks and not as unproblematic as it seems. It depicts the reality that in this specific time of a human’s life, the social circle appears to be the most important group where one will always aspire to belong, where friendship seems to be most valuable, and where having unregulated and unmonitored fun appears to be the best achievement and prize. In one way or another, the series may present the topics and themes in some morally and ethically appalling ways.
Nevertheless, what matters is that the youth, who comprise the primary audience of this show, know how to draw the line between a presentation and an inspiration. If only teenagers as well as the grown-ups would be more examining of the message that the series implies, they would see that Gossip Girl actually offers the hard lessons teenagers learn in such a witty and entertaining way—that although the scenes may sometimes look “deliciously trashy and incredibly inappropriate” (Rosen, 2008, n. p. ), it is entertaining to watch due to its very sensible and eye-opening life lessons and realizations.
Hence, despite the earlier criticisms, disapproval, and censorship issues regarding Gossip Girl, it evidently appears to be recognized as a socially relevant and moving depiction of teenage life; that is why it has been recognized and tagged by many TV critics as 2008’s best show of the year (Rosen, 2008). Projections of Gossip Girl’s Show Stability in 5 Years’ Time With the show’s current performance, it is evident that it is giving CW an undisputed success of appealing to wide and vast viewership.
It has also given the network a remarkable ratings record in 2008 as it significantly rose above all its competitors in that year (Steinberg, 2008). The opening of the second season has also been reported to be as successful as the series’ debut based on recent surveys as well as ratings records. Considering these facts, it may appear that more and more people are still getting hooked to television programs such as Gossip Girl despite the growth of other popular media such as the internet.
Thus, as long as Gossip Girl continues to excite and thrill its audience with more twists and turns and engaging events in the characters’ lives, it may still bag an undisputed rating record in within five more years. While competition is also inescapable, Gossip Girl will remain to be a well-loved series as long as it stays consistently appealing to its target audience in five years’ time. CW’s Part in Making Gossip Girl a Huge Success For the Gossip Girl series, CW has targeted an audience demographic of 18 to 34.
However, several surveys have reported that much younger viewers watch the show (Toff, 2008). This implies that CW is actually getting a larger audience share because of the reflected age of its specific audience. Looking at the current standing and status of Gossip Girl based on the recent ratings and surveys, it appears that CW indeed has made a wise (or lucky) decision to have released and aired a program like Gossip Girl. A lot of shows have already taken the primetime TV viewing of America by storm throughout history—Dawson’s Creek, Smallville, Friends, and a lot more.
Perhaps, the most remarkable factor which made all of these primetime shows a big hit is their appeal to the larger part of the TV viewing population, which is the youth. All these shows delve into issues that basically cover the life of youth, their experiences, ventures, and challenges faced. Considering the success of these previous primetime series, it may be logical to deduce that teen dramas and series will always be successful hits since the teen life will always continue to be a vast and profound world to explore and discover.
Also, it may also appear that teen dramas will always remain very interesting stories since the life of teenagers are always seen to be the most colorful and vibrant. Thus, considering this point may prove that CW therefore has really made a strong and logical decision to give another teen drama a chance to take the primetime TV viewing into another phenomenal enthusiasm. Surely, the network did not underestimate the power of the younger population of TV viewers as it targeted this part of the demographic which is actually continuing to give the network an undisputed high rating record because of Gossip Girl.
Josh Schwartz, Gossip Girl’s producer, who also happened to be OC’s producer which is another huge hit, admits that Gossip Girl has indeed given him a “mega hit” (Independent News & Media PLC, 2008). He also notes that a lot of TC executives have also considered the show a peek of tomorrow’s world which gives them an idea of the possible attitudes and outlook the youth might acquire and develop in the years to come. Hearing the words from the producer of the series himself, it proves that Gossip Girl has indeed come a long way when it comes to being considered as one of the most top-grossing TV series at least in the United States.
In this light, CW, together with the show’s producers, undeniably contributes a great deal of risk and effort in keeping the series alive in the television sets of its avid viewers. Gossip Girls’ unbeatable success as the general teen’s choice of primetime program can be attributed to its attention-grabbing promotional strategies which received moral criticisms but nevertheless have done a great deal of aid in making the program successful.
The very interesting as equally controversial posters featuring the characters have always roused the audience’s interest and curiosity about the upcoming episodes, encouraging them to keep on watching the show. Additionally, the competition is also doing a lot of help in making the show improve every season. Since the U. S. primetime TV today has been filled with all the brightest and the most brilliant stars and storylines, Gossip Girl is being left with no choice but to keep on getting better to be able to cope with the growing competition.
Not to mention, the timing of the series’ debut in 2007 was also notable since a lot of teenagers during that time have been seeking another primetime TV series that will capture their interests. Considering all these factors, it appears clear and undeniable where all the show’s success is coming from. Gossip Girl’s Association to Other World Events When Gossip Girl was introduced to the public’s eye in 2007, internet blogs and text messaging as telecommunications and mediums for self expression took a notable height.
During this time, every teenager seems to be producing blog articles and keeping updated with the latest chatting and text messaging slangs just to belong to the “in” circle. This is also the reason why the idea of having a teen drama which depicts these current technologies seems to be a brilliant idea for a TV network. As these technologies continue to become popular among the youth, Gossip Girl was born; a teen drama which captures the conflicts and issues of the characters, interestingly, through gossips spread through blogs, text, and chat messages.
Aside from all the other latest updates in the world of teen fashion, this can be considered as the greatest association Gossip Girl ever had with any event in the world, which is in this case the rise of internet blogging, chat, and text messaging technologies. Truly, Gossip Girl may not please everybody’s critical eye and standard for quality and worthwhile prime TV series. There will always be lots of inescapable judgments and criticisms, both positive and negative, which come from the very diverse perspectives of critics as well as fans.
However, even while being criticized and judged morally and ethically, at least in its own world—which is the world of the young, the popular and the fabulous—Gossip Girl has proved to be a real phenomenal hit that continues to tremendously influence the youth in many ways. References Baker, F. (2008, October 31). Nielsen finds strong TV-Internet usage overlap. Medial Literacy Clearing House. Retrieved March 26, 2009, from http://www. frankwbaker. com/mediause. htm. Canan, D. O. (2006, January 18). Gossip Girl by Cecily Von Ziegesar. Kirkwood High School. Retrieved March 26, 2009, from http://www.
kirkwood. k12. mo. us/parent_student/khs/canando/bookreview/canando/gossip_girl. html#student1. Fitzgerald, T. (2007). With teens at least, ‘Gossip Girl’ is hot. Media Life Magazine. Retrieved March 26, 2009, from http://www. medialifemagazine. com/artman2/publish/Younger_viewers_49/With_teens_at_least_Gossip_Girl_is_hot. asp. Independent News & Media PLC. (2008, May 8). How Gossip Girl is changing the way we watch TV. Independent. ie. Retrieved March 26, 2009, from http://www. independent. ie/entertainment/tv-radio/how-gossip-girl-is-changing-the-way-we-watch-tv-1369639.
html. Maynard, J. (2007, September 19). On the CW, ‘Gossip Sirl’ and the Vicious Circle. The Washington Post, C08. Retrieved March 26, 2009, from http://www. washingtonpost. com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/18/AR2007091802117. html. Mili, A. (2009) TV Show Reviews: Gossip Girl. Entertainment: TV Show Reviews. Helium. com. Retrieved March 26, 2009, from http://www. helium. com/items/1301758-gossip-girl-review. World Net Daily. (2008, April 23). ‘OMFG! ’: Cleavage kissing used to hype kids’ show. Blatant sex, profanity used to lure girls ages 12-17. World Net Daily. Retrieved
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