Gossip Girl is an Americantelevisionteen drama based on the popular novel series of the same name written by Cecily von Ziegesar. Gossip Girl revolves around the lives of socialite young adults growing up on New York's Upper East Side who attend elite academic institutions while dealing with sex, drugs, and other teenage issues. Featuring an ensemble cast, the series begins by introducing Serena van der Woodsen (Blake Lively) and best friend Blair Waldorf (Leighton Meester), as well as Blair's boyfriend Nate Archibald (Chace Crawford). Other characters in the show include Dan (Penn Badgley) and Jenny Humphrey (Taylor Momsen), who become involved in the lives of the main characters despite being less inclined to merge with the upper-east-side crowd. The series is narrated by a seemingly omniscient character, "Gossip Girl" (voiced by Kristen Bell), who runs a blog about her fellow Upper East Siders — consequently stirring the plot and creating potential rivalries in this exclusive and vicious circle of friends.
Gossip Girl is filmed entirely in New York City with scenes being shot in and around the boroughs of Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan. Described by producer Amy Kaufman as "a character in the story", the city is featured prominently even when most interior scenes are filmed at Silvercup Studios in Queens, including loft and apartment sets that were based on actual New York residences. For example, the buildings of Packer Collegiate Institute and the Russian Orthodox Synod of Bishops were combined to create a set resembling the exterior façade of the latter institute for the socialites' fictitious schools -- the Constance Billard and St. Jude's School for Boys. The chapel of Packer (located in Brooklyn Heights) is being featured as a gathering place for the teens. A set was also built to resemble The New York Palace Hotel on Madison Avenue where Serena and Chuck reside. Local haunts are also used as stand-ins for the characters' meeting places such as Communitea in Long Island City, The Front Room art gallery in Williamsburg and to a more exclusive extent, the Henri Bendel boutique in Fifth Avenue. Some of the filming locations are also historical places such as the Metropolitan Museum.
Alexandra Patsavas, the noted music supervisor on The O.C. and the critically-acclaimed Grey's Anatomy which both spanned multiple commercially successful soundtracks, will also be credited for the selection of music used on Gossip Girl. In contrast to her consistent use of independent music and alternative artists on those two shows, Patsavas will be incorporating current Top 40 hits on the series explaining, "I'm relying on old favorites while exploring current pop music. And since the show revolves primarily around high school students in New York, we'll definitely be using some New York-based bands. But these kids listen to the radio, too."
Narrated through the eyes of the omniscient yet unseen character called "Gossip Girl" (voiced by Kristen Bell), this inconspicuous person runs a popular gossip commentary blog which holds the attention of all major characters on the show as she brings up-to-the-minute talk about the Upper East Side social scene. Blake Lively portrays Serena van der Woodsen, the former It girl who, a year before the show's beginning, had suddenly left Manhattan for a boarding school of her own accord for reasons unknown, thereby straining relations with her best friend, Blair Waldorf (Leighton Meester). Blair was hurt by her friend's departure but feels liberated when she finds that she is suddenly the new Queen Bee in their circle of friends, a position that she relishes. However she struggles to keep the attention of her boyfriend, Nate Archibald, (Chace Crawford). Secretly smitten with Serena, Nate is conflicted about life and is seemingly floating through under the watchful eye of his controlling father. Fueling his inner demons is his childhood friend, Chuck Bass (English actor Ed Westwick). Cynical and morally bankrupt, Chuck walks on the wild side of life and is not above abusing others to serve his own needs.
The first episode of the show was watched by 3.65 million viewers, coming in last place in its 9:00 p.m. timeslot on Wednesday nights. Despite this, the show was noted to have held the best audience retention of America's Next Top Model in spite of a decline of 30% in the advertiser-craved 18-49 demographic and in total viewers. The show wasn't able to cling to its viewers in its second outing, however, losing more than half of ANTM's audience and 22% of its own debut numbers in the face of strong competition from other shows such as ABC's Private Practice and NBC's Bionic Woman each of which made impressive debuts that night.
Before the series officially made its debut on air, the first episode was made available as a free download on iTunes.
With its current struggle for ratings, CW entertainment president Dawn Ostroff alluded to the fact that strong sales on iTunes was a deciding factor in the series being picked up for a full season.
Due to the show's pedigree as an adaptation of the New York Times bestselling novel series, the show was considered to be one of the more anticipated new shows of the 2007-2008 television season. An August 2007 survey by OTX, a global media research and consulting firm, placed the show on the list of top ten new shows that viewers were aware of. Though the pilot was the recipient of positive reviews from publications such as Variety, Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle and the Boston Globe, other reviewers described it as a guilty pleasure rather than an hour's worth of must-watch television.Metacritic gave it a score of 54, based on the reviews of 26 different publications. However, author Cecily von Ziegesar has expressed support for the show, noting that all of her major plot points were present in the pilot.