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Gossip Girl is a popular television show that targets teenagers and young adults. This drama series concentrates on a group of friends who attend a private high school in New York City. Naturally, all of the friends are very wealthy to be able to attend this school. The friend group deals with many typical high school problems and more throughout the series. The main characters in this show include the most popular and prettiest, Serena, her best friend Blair, a less rich and unpopular boy, Dan and a sometimes rude but attractive teenager, Chuck.
In the addicting series, the four friends must face and deal with a lot of drama together because of their similar lifestyles. Chuck, Blair and Serena are all very wealthy and have lenient parents. Dan, on the other hand, is not very wealthy and does not always understand his rich friends’ carefree lifestyles. Dan is usually the one who stays away from parties and focuses on his schoolwork. The reason the show is called Gossip Girl is because of an unknown blogger that is constantly spying on the friends’ lives. Gossip Girl targets these friends and posts mean and secretive things anonymously online about them for the rest of the school to read. Most of the drama in the series roots from something Gossip Girl posted. There are various amounts of communication concepts involved in this show such as identity management, self-concepts, and stereotyping.
Identity management is a popular concept among most people but specifically young adults and teenagers who are trying to find their place in this world. Identity management is “the communication strategies that people use to influence how others view them” (Adler, 2005, p. 62). Similar to the stereotype of stuck up, rich teenagers, the three friends, Serena, Blair and Chuck really care about what others think of them. These three characters always make sure they are wearing the nicest clothes when they leave their houses, are riding in a limousine if they need to drive anywhere and that their less popular peers are always looking up to them or doing what they say. People change their personalities deliberately or unconsciously depending on the situation to maintain relationships, explore new selves and so that they can be liked.
Blair and Dan are the two characters who manage their identities the most. They really focus on their perceived self. Blair always wants to be the best and most liked so she is constantly changing for people. This does not work in her favor because sometimes she changes to someone she is not and ends up being disliked instead have liked. For example, in one episode, Blair is romantically interested in a boy that is not too interested in her. Blair changes her normally snotty attitude to try the very sweet person she is deep down. Although she is genuinely nice, the change does not work out in her favor and the boy ends up falling for her best friend, Serena.
Unfortunately, Dan is automatically different from his peers because he is not as rich as them which means he has different clothes, different privileges and lives in a different area. To maintain his relationships with his friends, he always has to be the best he can be so he can feel like he is on their level. This does not mean that he pretends to be something he is not to fit in, he just makes sure he acts a certain way in front of his peers. The way he goes with the flow around his rich friends and acts with a lot of manners is not the same way he acts in front of his father and sister. For the most part, his identity management is good for him because he does end up fitting in with the popular kids by being a different him.
Serena and Chuck are not very similar in personalities but are similar in the fact that they do not change identities often for others. Both characters are very self-confident and feel they should not have to change personalities for anyone. However, when it is appropriate, Serena and Chuck do act differently around their parents at a fancy party then they would around their friends at a high school party. Their wealth requires them to attend a lot of formal parties and be mature enough to spend time with other wealthy adults. It is easy for them to switch their personalities when they switch their setting.
Self-concepts are another big part of the show. Self-concepts are simply how people see themselves. “Physical appearance, health, friendships, accomplishments, or skills” (Adler, 2005, p. 41) are all examples of things that play into one’s self-concept. Gossip Girl’s characters have a variety of self-concepts because of the many different personalities surrounding the show. For Serena, she is well aware that she is popular and attractive and that mostly everyone loves and looks up to her. This strangely does not make Serena cocky. If anything, Serena thinks she is less cool and collected than everyone else thinks she is.
Unlike Serena, Blair’s self-concept of herself is that she thinks she is amazing and beautiful. This self-concept makes Blair cockier than she should be around others. She has a hard time understanding why no one loves her as much as they love Serena and why she is not as popular as her best friend. Blair’s jealousy of Serena is a constant problem in every episode of the series.
As for the boys, Chuck and Dan are extremely different characters. Chuck is a lot like Blair because they are both cocky. Chuck sees himself as one of the best people around even though his personality is not that great. He is not well liked amongst his peers or many adults. Most of the time he feels he is superior because he has a lot of money and nice things. Dan is the complete opposite of Chuck and is pretty intimidated because he knows that it is possible that he will not fit in with the preppy, rich kids. Dan knows that he is a smart, caring and good-hearted person. However, he is also aware that his peers make fun of him because he is a lot less wealthy than they are and will always be different from them. In one of the first episodes, Dan is excited and prepared to go to his new school because he is confident that people will like him for his charming personality and smarts. However, when he arrives at school, his peers automatically notice his scruffy hair, different clothes and non-designer backpack. Dan’s self-confidence is lessened because the way he sees himself changes when he sees how others perceive him.
Stereotyping is another main communication concept that takes place anywhere in the world and at any age. Stereotypes are “exaggerated generalizations associated with a categorizing system” (Adler, 2005, p.86) and there are many pointed out in this series. For instance, a common stereotype is that rich kids are not nice, usually cocky and spoiled by their parents. For Serena, Blair, Chuck and most of the other kids they go to school with, this stereotype is true. The only person who does not fit the stereotype is the person who does not follow the same criteria as the others. Dan is the only one who stands out in the group, making him the outcast in basically every episode. In this story line, Dan is the one who is completely different from the others and the writers of the show make him obviously the weird, less confident character.
The hit show Gossip Girl clearly demonstrates multiple interpersonal communication concepts throughout the six seasons. It may be exaggerated for entertainment but most of the drama that takes place in the character’s lives is very similar to what can happen in a real life high school and can be related to real adolescents. Although some of the characters are very similar physically, emotionally and mentally they are all pretty different. The character’s personalities are what make the show interesting because sometimes they clash and that is when drama happens. Identity management, self-concepts and stereotyping are all common to any high school, private or public, rich or poor.
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