Gossip Girl sent out her last text alert last night, and the ping of phones that for six seasons signaled that the Upper East Side’s queen of mean had released fresh tittle-tattle sounded this time for her juiciest scoop yet: her own identity. Like most things in the show’s final season, the big reveal was a huge anticlimax, but for those who care (if not enough to watch the show), Gossip Girl is … Lonely Boy. Dan Humphrey (Penn Badgley), the boy from Brooklyn who was the viewer’s “entry character” into the scandalous lives of Manhattan’s elite, originally started the site to provide an outsider’s take on the world of the Upper East Side’s private schools where he met Chuck Bass (Ed Westwick), Nate Archibald (Chace Crawford), Blair Waldorf (Leighton Meester), and Serena van der Woodsen (Blake Lively)—and for some reason he never stopped.
The show irretrievably lost the plot in Season 5, when Blair married the crown prince of Monaco and Chuck’s father, Bart, returned from the dead. But even after those missteps—and the final season’s focus on two unworthy subjects, Ivy Dickens and Sage Spence—I still loved Gossip Girl. It owned its craziness and always knew when to wink—as when a widow, faced with the task of organizing his husband’s funeral for the second time, sighed, “The good news is we can do the same thing we did the last time Bart died”— and when to take itself completely seriously. I loved that it never stopped mentioning characters even when the actor playing them had been fired or moved on. One thing I never could take seriously, though: I never for a moment believed that renowned dim-wit Nate Archibald could run an important magazine, even with a large staff—especially since he seemed to assign the really important editorial tasks to the 16-year-old intern he was sleeping with.
I was hoping that, St. Elsewhere / Marabou Stork Nightmares-style, the finale would reveal that everything we had seen in the previous six years had happened inside the head of Dorota, Blair Waldorf’s maid/factotum, perhaps after the poor woman snapped under the strain of so much scheming, secrets-keeping, and uniform-starching. But instead, the final reveal—provided by a coda that showed all characters gathered together for a very special occasion in 2017—was that, after all those years of sleeping together in every possible permutation (only the members of Fleetwood Mac and the lesbian residents of a very small town have spent so much time socializing with former lovers) everyone ended up back where they started 10 years before.
Blair married Chuck, her one true love, in the show’s final episode—and in the coda we met their son, Henry, the youngest human to smile while wearing a bow tie. Although Serena’s mother, Lily, and Dan’s father, Rufus, had spent a few seasons as a married couple, they now had more suitable spouses: Lily was back with the (despicable) father of her children, and former rocker Rufus was getting handsy with Lisa Loeb. All the ambitious interlopers who had tried to break into their world were out of the picture—except for Dan Humphrey, who squeezed a bottle of pomade onto his bouncy locks, donned a truly hideous tuxedo, and said “I do” to Serena. “There’ll always be someone on the outside, wanting to get in,” Dan said when he confessed his secret identity. But on Gossip Girl, as in life, the odds were stacked against them making it past the velvet rope.