Recapping “Gossip Girl”: Valley Girls (The Spin-Off That’ll Never Happen)

Last night, “Gossip Girl” was awesome fun! It was weirdly sentimental, and sweet, and No Doubt was there covering Adam and the Ants, and Brittany Snow actually charmed my dang pants off with her turn as Young Lily, and the ‘80s fashion was ADORBZ, and they played Men Without Hats, and there were actual nice parallels between the dual storylines! I feel like someone sat the writers down and gave them a talking-to.The episode opens with Young Lily Rhodes wearing yummy ‘80s layers. She’s sporting a pink pinstriped button-down blouse, a V-neck argyle sweater, a blazer in tasty neutrals, and great blond hair on the order of one Serena Van der Woodsen. She just got kicked out of boarding school, and she wants to move in with her dad in Malibu. Pops, a.k.a. Andrew McCarthy, just got divorced from Cece and lives in a ginormous casa near the beach. Cece has remained at the family manse somewhere else in Southern California, where she does lots of Jane Fonda workout tapes, sucks down gin and thinks evil thoughts.

The episode flips back and forth between the ‘80s Lily tale and the ‘00s Serena-getting-out-of-jail-and-everyone-is-going-to-the-prom storyline. The modern-day stuff is pretty uneventful, other than the fact that Chuck Bass re-sabotages the already-sabotaged prom king and queen election so that Blair and Nate win…and makes sure she has a gorgeous dress from Paris, exactly like the one she designed for her future prom when she was 12…oh, and he gets them the penthouse suite at the Plaza, just like she always wanted. And Cece springs Serena from the hoosegow at Dan’s behest. The writers even give Serena some totally bitchtastic lines, including: “When I’m a mother, I will be nothing like you. I would rather give my kids up for adoption than be like you. Oh, wait, you did that.” Zing! But everything works out in the end and everyone forgives each other, and Blair and Nate break up but it’s okay and maybe Chuck and Blair will even do it in the next episode.

Anyway, back to the fun ‘80s.

Andrew McCarthy isn’t into Lily living with him, because he’s got to have lots of sex with Molly Ringwald or John Cusack or whoever, and he returns her to the nasty clutches of her uptight blond mummy, Cece. Lily runs away to the seedy Sunset Strip, or maybe it’s Melrose, to track down her older sister Carol. Carol ran away from home a few years back so that she could go off and have dark bangs and thick Brooke Shields eyebrows on her own terms, dammit. Carol’s not at the diner where she works, but a hottie named Owen Campos is. He agrees to take Lily to find Carol, but first he gives her a bad-girl makeover and there’s a fun fashion montage courtesy of the many outfits inexplicably stored in Carol’s work locker. Brittany Snow, who looks like an Olsen twin makes many cute faces and is quite endearing.

Then they go to a club where No Doubt is doing an Adam and the Ants cover (there’s a fun cut to a different band playing this same song at Serena’s 2009 prom!). No Doubt didn’t actually form until 1986, and this is 1983, so this band is called Snowed Out, for fun. If this episode could make Tony and Gwen get back together and erase the Gavin Rossdale years, I’d be filled with joy. But alas, we just get a few fun shots of Gwen doing her thing. Mmmm, Tony is so dreamy.

Anyhoosiewhatsits, Brittany/Lily finds Carol wearing a red leather jacket and dangly earrings. She possesses a low-cost vehicle. Carol is bereft of the sweet BMW her parents gave her because she gave it to the dude who invented the fanny pack (no, this is an actual plot point). Lily, Owen, Carol, and Carol’s sort-of boyfriend Shep break into a house party thrown by a cokehead preppy named…dum da da daaaaaaaa…Keith VAN DER WOODSEN! OMG OMG! Serena’s future daddy, probs! He’s a music video director (in addition to being a stock ‘80s villain, the Blonde Jerk—see ‘The Karate Kid’ and “Back to the Future” for prime examples), and he won’t give Shep’s band their music video footage unless they give him way more money than the originally agreed-upon fee. Oh, and he totally gets with Carol this one time, even though he has a party-all-the-time girlfriend with crimped blond hair who will probably sex him all the time if he wants. And New Order is playing at one point.

Class warfare ensues when Biff Van der Woodsen’s girlfriend refers to the gang as Valley trash (actually, only the boys are Valley trash; Lily and Carol are super rich, but Carol insists they keep it a secret). The uprising is reminiscent of “Les Miserables,” in that it involves a bunch of angry poors doing violent things while fun music plays. It is also clearly a giant, dance-friendly metaphor for Reaganomics and the woes of a trickle-down world, but that’s neither here nor there. Lily and Owen start kicking ass, and then they get arrested. Cece is enraged and wants to get Lily out of jail and bring her home, but Carol isn’t having it. She bails Lily out herself and reveals that she sold her craptastic Impala in order to buy her sister’s freedom. She tells Cece that Lily will be staying with her for awhile.

Anyway, the Lily-in-the-‘80s show promised to be interesting and fresh and fun. Too bad it’s allegedly not occurring. Rumor has it that the CW eliminated the show, so this episode will now stand on its own as evidence of a fun, meaningless little series that never got to stretch its Spandex-clad legs and run through the glorious, verdant fields of tween TV.

In short: this week’s episode was fun but may be unattached to any actual Lily spinoff in the future; Brittany Snow is adorable; and Chuck and Blair might do it in the next episode. Also, did you know Chace Crawford went to the White House Correspondents Dinner? Of course he did! Because that makes perfect sense. He probably spent the whole evening chatting up the staff of the “National Review,” unleashing witty bon mots that delighted and impressed many a columnist. Oh, Chace. Shine on, you pretty pretty diamond.

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