I remember watching Gossip Girl from the comfort of my bedroom in small-town Oregon, dreaming of the day I’d buy diamond-encrusted headbands from Henri Bendel and delight in glasses of Veuve Clicquot and French macarons at the many Parisian-inspired brunches I’d no doubt be invited to.
When I did eventually relocate to N.Y.C., the harsh reality of city living was revealed to me: headbands are unnecessarily painful, and French macarons cost $4 a pop.
Suffice it to say, like any good escapist TV series, Gossip Girl does a fantastic job of obscuring reality. Ten years after the series’ premiere, to say that the show was set in New York sounds like a stretch to me—GG’s N.Y.C. is not a city I’ve ever been to let alone heard of, even from its elite residents.
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Scroll down to explore the most fictional features of Gossip Girl's take on N.Y.C. living.
1. Having Lunch on the Steps of the Met is Nowhere Near Glamorous
The ladies of Gossip Girl make lunching on the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art look like the bougiest al fresco dining option in Manhattan. Here’s the thing: in real life, Blair would not step foot near the Met, except maybe for the Met Gala. Like most pay-as-you-wish N.Y.C. institutions, The Met is teeming with tourists at all hours of the day. Lunching on the steps is not only unsanitary, but it would put you in the footpath of the masses. It's hardly an exclusive and glamorous experience—however, doing so is a guarantee that you’ll be asked for directions, possibly stepped on, and almost definitely harassed by pigeons.
2. NYU Is Not a Rodent-Infested Community College
OK, as an NYU alum I might be a tad biased, but Gossip Girl’s version of the university is laughably fictional.
After Blair’s lifelong dream of attending Yale falls to pieces, she is somehow left with only one option: NYU—though by the way she talks about it, you’d think she were being shipped to North Korea. This is a direct quote from H.R.H. of the U.E.S. herself: “Just because I lost Yale does not mean I’m wasting my time at a non-Ivy, reading Beloved six times, and experimenting with lesbianism.” (Hey, I’ve only read Beloved four times!)
Blair’s resistance to venture below 14th street (NYU territory) is misguided, but more importantly it's just unbelievable for her character. NYU is one of the *most* expensive private schools in the United States and draws hoards of Manhattan’s prep school elite. I’ve personally met more Blair Waldorf-lite, Celine-toting students at the school than the charicatures of dirty hipsters B seems to associate with Washington Square.
3. The Upper East Side Is Not Young People-Friendly, Nor Is It the Seat of N.Y.C. Power
The Upper East Side is home to some beautiful buildings and expensive boutiques, but that’s pretty much where its moneyed allure ends. For all the sh— the Humphreys get for living in Brooklyn, the truth is some lofts on the UES are probably cheaper than their Williamsburg pad. Contrary to Gossip Girl's implications, parts of the Upper East are some of the most affordable in Manhattan, and it isn’t super attractive to young people (i.e. the GG core) because there isn’t much to do. The city’s nightlife scene is nestled snuggly below 14th street—aka the GG red zone. If these teens were really looking to party, they’d flee upper Manhattan.
4. The Humphreys Aren't Poor!
Speaking of which, judging by similar properties in the area, the Humphreys' 3-bedroom loft (which is actually located in DUMBO—455 Water St.) would likely sell for around $2 million.
5. Money Does Not Waive the Need for ID
GG's core crew went to bars while wearing their school uniforms, and were never once carded. It's implied that their financial standing protected them from the law, but that's really not how things work. Sure, some bars or restaurants are occasionally lax about checking an ID, especially for VIPs, but that's far from a universal rule. The bars that teens can get into aren't nearly as chic.
6. Commute Time Is Real
The GG crew is always shuttling across the city in town cars (probably the slowest way to get anywhere in N.Y.C.), yet they almost never complain or draw attention to commute time. The MTA paired with Manhattan's natural traffic flow keeps me about 10-25 minutes late for almost everything. I refuse to believe these characters lead such a sunny, congestion-free existence.
7. Nightclubs Are Not Always Empty. In Fact, They Never Are.
The number of GG scenes that take place in moderately-populated night clubs with quick and easy bar service is staggering. The reality? Anywhere these kids would deem worthy of a night out would be packed with socialites, allow zero room for low-key convos in normal voices, and include long waits for over-priced, mixer-heavy cocktails.
8. N.Y.C. Is Diverse
Despite the city's known reputation as a cultural and ethnic melting pot, 95% of GG's many, many characters throughout the seasons are white. Hmm ...