With the recent news about the Gossip Girl Reboot, many fans of the original TV show are using the moment as an opportunity for a trip down memory lane. Gossip Girl: as the show’s narrator calls it – “the iconic teen drama about the scandalous lives of Manhattan’s elite” used to be the hottest teen drama out there. Even though the show circled a story about teenagers, the plot dealt with many adult issues like rape culture, class differences, and addiction. If you haven’t seen it, now is the perfect time to do so.
Die-hard fans fill up with nostalgic memories of admiring Blair’s sassy persona and hating Dan just because he exists. We used to swoon over Chuck and despise Jenny. However, when we’re older, we discover many problematic themes that we overlooked before.
All the underage drinking and classist bullying don’t seem so cute anymore. How did we even like this? If it wasn’t a big deal before, now any show dares to brush off such topics so carelessly risks being canceled. And for a good reason. Still, it seems that Gossip Girl made it through the toxicity unscathed and left a good memory in our minds.
Unfortunately, as much as we love Gossip Girl, normalizing toxic behaviour never ends well. A whole generation’s idea of “normal” can change because of trivial matters like how a specific trope is portrayed in pop culture. Of course, Gossip Girl is not the only piece of media that contains harmful ideas and messages. But, it’s part of the problem, especially considering its viewers’ young age. Media is highly influential, and the trendiest tv show or influencer is like the modern-day gospel for young people. So, when the media is dictating something terrible, suddenly it becomes good. At some point, the line between good and evil is pretty unclear, and an entire generation is heading for a path of life-long issues.
The toxic relationship of Chuck and Blair
Did you use to love Chuck and Blair’s relationship? Despite their ridiculous ship name (Chair), most fans of the show adored them. There were fan pages, video edits, fanfictions. The couple became one of the plot’s focal points, and every time they broke up, a piece of my heart was indeed shattered. Their love was presented as that big, exhilarating, once-in-a-lifetime love full of hardships and difficulties. But in the end, that’s what makes it great. It was the slow burn, the love-hate dynamic, and the drama that made Chair so loved. It felt like there was a possibility that someone impossible could work out if you put in enough time and work. ‘Chair’ gave us all hope for our real-life relationships.
But if we look at Chuck and Blair’s relationship, things aren’t looking good. Chuck is an emotionally unavailable, selfish, borderline sex offender who can’t admit his feelings for the life of him. And Blair is an insecure, scheming, entitled rich girl. They both have their redeeming qualities, but when they’re together, some of their worst characteristics come out and make the best out of them Normalized Toxic Relationships.
Chuck emotionally abused Blair many times throughout the show, and then once, he sold her. Blair, on the other hand, sacrificed her dignity countless times for Chuck. The whole thing was incredibly toxic, but the two couldn’t stay away from each other. Even when they tried to move on to someone new, there was always something that brought them back together.
Chuck and Blair were addicted to each other, and we loved them for that. But it’s important to note that they were addicted to each other in how one gets addicted to cocaine. They had their undeniable highs, but the lows were painful and destructive. It was unhealthy for both of them. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not inherently bad for a show to showcase a toxic relationship. What matters is the way the particular show decides to handle it. In this case, Chuck and Blair got married Normalized Toxic Relationships.
The once impossible, troubled connection was made to look possible in the show. The unhealthy relationship turned out to be the love story of a lifetime. This is what’s wrong with normalizing and glorifying toxic behavior. It changes how we handle and perceives specific patterns.
Now, when you get into a relationship, and it doesn’t work out, you’re inclined to force yourself to make it work. You ask yourself, “What if it turns out to be the love of my life?” Or if it is too easy, we deem it boring. There are countless examples of media that glorify toxic relationships. If we want it to work, it has to be dramatic. Otherwise, it’s not exciting Normalized Toxic Relationships.
This doesn’t apply to everyone, but when you look at the iconic couples in our pop culture, the toxic relationship is a reoccurring pattern. And we are what we love, right?
So next time you sigh after a Chuck and Blair meme, think about what you would do if you were in the same position as those two characters. In real life, those “love stories” leave marks, both physically and mentally. So don’t push away the good guy when you meet him. Don’t chase the fuckboy. Love doesn’t have to be complicated to feel right. And if it hurts, it is not love. Repeat and remember – If it hurts, it is NOT love.