As fans and critics rehash the last six seasons of The CW's Gossip Girl after Monday's finale, most recollect the cutting edge fashion, the soap opera-like plot lines that went downhill over time, and guest appearances from the likes of Vera Wang, Lady Gaga and Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
But they're missing an important story behind this show. Gossip Girl was the first about the lives of the Connected Generation -- the millennials who grew up with the Internet, consider their cellphones an essential accessory and share content comfortably with friends and strangers on social networks.
From the first episode, which premiered Sep. 19, 2007, it was clear the characters' lives could change with one text message. The word alerts could forge friendships and destroy relationships, often at the same time.
Blogs are the go-to news source. And the hyper-local Gossip Girl blog is the show's pulse.
The seemingly omnipotent blog is fueled by text, photo and video tips sent in by Upper East Siders -- the show's core crew -- and onlookers alike. In the show's own form of poetic justice, the arbiter of must-know insider Upper East Side gossip comes from Dan, the outsider from Brooklyn, and only revealed his identity as Gossip Girl in the finale.
While the characters on The O.C. (another teen drama from Josh Schwartz) spread information by running to each other's houses, Gossip Girl's cast primarily communicates by cellphone. During the show's five-and-a-half year run, each character is seen with a collection of phones that would only grace the pockets of a tech reporter. The show was also known for its blatant product placement (cough, LG, Nokia, Apple, Blackberry, etc.).
Times had changed since The O.C. When cast members see something newsworthy, from kissing to fist-fighting, they'd snap a photo and share it with Gossip Girl (this started, of course, before the days of Instagram).
Gossip Girl, as a show, was a pioneer in its use of mobile.
As the seasons went on, the ways the characters communicate changed. The anonymous Gossip Girl blog evolves from web posts and text blasts to geo-location maps, plotting where main characters have last been seen -- think a creepier version of Foursquare and Highlight.
The media scene evolves, as well. Dan and Blair intern at W magazine while they're in college. By the end of the show, Nate's life revolves around running online-only newspaper The Spectator, which is positioned as a Gossip Girl competitor for New York news.
One of the show's most enlightened lines comes during the final minutes of the finale, when Dan explains why he started the blog.
"I wasn't born into this world. Maybe I could write myself into it," he says. The line speaks to the power of the Internet to build reputations and power -- and to destroy both. The shows perpetual tagline -- You're nobody until someone talks about you -- rings to this theme as well.
Our generation thrives on Facebook likes, receives validation from blog hits and is turned on by retweets.
Serena Van Der Woodson, his on-again, off-again love interest throughout the show, accepts his tale, agreeing that the blog was a "love letter" to the show's leading roles. His attention and the constant mentions by his blog made her feel loved. For millennials like Serena, being talked about in the positive or negative is good. Gossip makes you known, and therefore important and powerful.
While few Gossip Girl loyalists desired the dramatic lives of the characters they've watched on TV, and likely before that read about in the book series by Cecily Von Ziegesar (I'm fairly sure there's still a stash of the books in my childhood bedroom), our lives have evolved to be more like the characters.
In 2007, my Motorola Razr received voice calls and texts. No email and definitely no news. Gossip Girl foreshadowed the rise of mobile news blasts and micro-blogging sites like Twitter. Short-form journalism existed on the show before it entered the mainstream.
By 2012, my iPhone 5 buzzed with text messages and push notifications from various apps as I watched the Gossip Girl finale. My phone is now my main source of information -- for the hours of my day I'm away from my computer, at least -- and in that respect I've become just like Serena, Blair, Nate, Chuck and Dan.
--Courtesy of mashable.com