Six years ago, while surfing channels on television, I came across a Season 1 episode of Gossip Girl. I instantly became a fan. I was fascinated by the glamorous lives of these socialites living in the Upper East Side of New York City. One of the characters I identified with was "Lonely Boy," also known as Dan Humphrey (played by Penn Badgley). He was a middle-class boy from Brooklyn who became the Nick Carraway character we viewers could live vicariously through. Another character I adored was the Queen Bee, Blair Waldorf. She's a brunette Regina George -- a character we're supposed to see as a villain, but can't help but love because of the charm and great comedic talent of Leighton Meester.
Season 1 was the prime of the series. It was a genuinely great character-driven drama that I was not afraid to defend to those that dismissed it as a silly teen soap. But with each new season, the quality of the storylines became repetitive and uninspired. The same formula became recycled: Serena running away to a different city because she was afraid of facing her problems, Blair reuniting with a boyfriend who doesn't treat her with respect, and Nate dating the most recent attractive female recurring guest star.
I was completely caught by surprise by the amazing chemistry between Dan and Blair ("Dair"). These two were from completely opposite worlds, but are so similar in many ways. The two self-righteous personalities are both the most intelligent of the group, so their witty banter with each other became comedy gold. They both share the same passion for art, film and literature, so we got fun references that film buffs could appreciate. The dialogue between the two is such magic to watch, it could not have been replicated by two other characters on the show to the same effect.
It was as if they belonged on a different show, because their storyline was vastly superior to everyone else's dull drama. Dan and Blair together are like Harry Burns and Sally Albright reincarnated -- the couple was obviously inspired by When Harry Met Sally. The show even recreated their famous phone-movie date for a Dan and Blair scene. The history of their relationship parallels the iconic film couple; the two began as enemies, became friends and eventually a couple.
The toxic and emotionally abusive relationship between Chuck and Blair is just disturbing to watch. I will never understand the appeal of a romance where the woman has no self-respect. Blair literally lets Chuck treat her as his property. Who can forget in Season 3 when Chuck sold Blair to his uncle Jack as a prostitute just to save his precious hotel? How about the time when Chuck was drunk and physically abused Blair out of anger that she was engaged to a prince? Apparently that kind of relationship is Blair's idea of an epic romance. That's just sad. Even sadder is the fact that there are young female fans who buy into this idea.
Chuck and Blair ("Chair") weren't always this toxic. Before they became a poster-child for a bad relationship, they were actually one of the most entertaining couples. They were the Kathryn Mereuil and Sebastian Valmont of the Upper East Side. Of course that all changed when the writers tried to make Chuck into a romantic lead. What used to be two fun scene-stealing characters became a couple whose scenes took themselves too seriously. Their dialogue is intended to sound epic, but instead sounds like it comes from a cheesy adult romance novel.
One of the many reasons that Chair delay their relationship is because Chuck wants his empire back from his father. He wants them to be a power couple. But Chuck -- you didn't exactly build that empire. Bart came back from a fake death to take was rightly his. In the first episode of Season 6, Chuck tells Blair, "I would give up my empire for you." So why didn't you? You could establish yourself separate from your father without his business. Let's not forget the cringe worthy moment from the Season 5 finale when Blair pleads for Chuck back on top of the hotel she was sold as a prostitute for.
Dan and Chuck have always represented two different sides of Blair's personality. This is something Blair, Dan and Eleanor (Blair's mother) have all acknowledged. Chuck brings out the immature, high school Blair who loves to scheme for fun. Chuck and Blair's relationship is based on their shared interest in kinky sex and scheming. Dan brings out the mature, independent Blair who we all fell in love with in Season 1. Blair in Season 1 would never let a boy treat her like his property. Yet that's what Blair becomes when she is with Chuck: He is her kryptonite when it comes to character development, and she reverts back to immature scheming and lets him dictate how she should live her life.
One of my favourite quotes that Dan says to Blair speaks volumes of how healthy their relationship is. In Season 5, Episode 12, he says: "That girl is fiercely strong, independent, outspoken, beautiful and capable of anything. And no man or magazine should be able to take that away from her." With Dan, Blair is an equal in a relationship. We see her genuinely happy and a return to Season 1 Blair. So it's disappointing to see that even when she's not with Chuck, she is negatively influenced by him. In Season 4, when she said that the reason she wanted the W magazine internship was so she could prove worthy for Chuck -- how sexist is that? Her motivation for the internship should be accomplishing her own dreams, not to attract a boy who wasn't mourning her when he dated Raina and Eva.
One of the scenes that best explains why Dan and Blair's relationship or friendship works so much is the hallway scene from Season 1, Episode 4. Blair is mad at Serena because she is reminded of how she has always been in her shadow. Dan decides to comfort her. Even though they come from different worlds, he can relate to her and encourages her tell her mother how she feels neglected. Dan and Blair represent the idea that two completely opposite people can still form a relationship, despite class differences or prejudices against them.
Unfortunately for us Dair fans, we didn't get the Pacey and Joey ending we wanted. None of us were really shocked, considering we got paparazzi photos of both weddings weeks ago. While I can accept Dan as the anonymous blogger, I wanted it to be Dorota just for the humour that reveal could have produced with her speaking in an American accent. As Dair fans we supported each other on Tumblr and Oh No They Didn't. We had a shared denial that it could have possibly been all a trick from the writers, like the fake scene Leighton Meester and Chace Crawford filmed to fool fans into thinking Nair (Nate and Blair) were the endgame of Season 2.
I would have been happy with Derena (Dan and Serena) but they have a shared blood sibling named Scott. Not to forget the fact that Serena has hooked up with too many guest stars to count. Blair left Dan for Chuck without any explanation in the Season 5 finale -- that felt like the biggest slam in the face to all of us Dair fans. At least give us a proper closure for a couple we've invested three seasons in.
All throughout Season 6, it was as if Blair's mind was stuck in Season 2. I don't remember a single moment in the final season where Blair said one nice thing to Dan. Instead, she's in a ridiculous pact to save herself for a guy who has caused nearly all of her tears because of his consistently douchebag-like behaviour. Trying to make Chuck into a tragic hero in his fight against his much more evil father was a mistake. That storyline ended in a death scene that had music that sounded like it belonged to an Saturday Night Live skit.
In my idea of the perfect ending, Gossip Girl ends in Season 5, Episode 19. In particular, the scene where Dan and Blair go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Blair had officially divorced her secretly evil husband, Prince Louis. She had lost the princess fairy tale she grew up fantasizing, but Dan was there to remind her that she was always a princess in his eyes. He gives her a dollar store crown and Blair accepts it. Dan finally found his true love in a place he least expected, and Blair finally accepted him into her world. Together, they brought out the best in each other's personalities.
Dan as 'gossip girl' just created countless plot holes. It also makes past scenes, where Dan is by himself and shocked by a GG blast, unintentionally funny. The series finale was not a complete disappointment -- I loved the scene showing past characters' reactions to finding out the identity of Gossip Girl. This led to a fun and brief cameo by Kristen Bell and Rachel Bilson, breaking the fourth wall. While I'm disappointed in how the series ended, I'm still appreciative of the writers for taking a chance on the most unlikely couple. They really were the most inspired storyline and couple of the show.
Follow Alfonso Espina on Twitter: www.twitter.com/alfonsoespina