Penn Badgley has a new show, called 'You.' 'You' centers around bookstore manager Joe (Badgley), who meets and quickly becomes obsessed with Beck (Elizabeth Lail), an aspiring writer. Joe uses the internet and social media to learn everything about Beck in an attempt to get close to her. Sound familiar? You probably remember Penn Badgley, he starred as Dan, on a little show called 'Gossip Girl.' It was kinda great, then, Serena became boring, Jenny went goth, and Blaire became Chuck's sidekick who he threw shards of glass at. After a while, the show became less great.
On December 17, 2012, 'Gossip Girl' aired its final episode and revealed that the titular 'Gossip Girl' was none other than Dan Humphrey. Boring, pretentious, awful, Dan Humphrey. By the time the sixth season of 'Gossip Girl' rolled around, it was a shell of its former self and so were the characters. The show continuously tried to one-up its most OMG moments, season after season, this eventually became tiring. No matter how salacious the drama was, eventually it all became dull, and viewership steadily declined.
Characters who were so vindictive, complicated, and fascinating in the first few seasons quickly became whiny, irritating, plot devices. Blaire, the show's crown jewel, started as an insecure mean girl with parental issues the size of her wit. She was mean, she was vulnerable, she was always there to insult everyone's horrible choices. Blaire the show's best character and Leighton Meester the cast's strongest actor, eventually became the victim of the show's worst storylines (She dated DAN, WHY DID THIS HAPPEN?). Then, of course, there was Serena. Serena was never anyone's favorite character, but her quest to be a reformed good girl was at times moderately compelling.
Serena went from boring love interest to boring love interest. Serena's relationships always ended horribly and made her look like a terrible person or deeply stupid. The boys didn't fare much better, except for maybe Nate. Nate was never that interested in the first place, so he ended up as boring in the end as he was in the beginning. Chuck went through the most changes during the show's run. Starting off as date-rapist, then transforming into the show's romantic lead alongside Blaire, to a gunshot victim, who in the end gets his happily ever after defeating his evil dad, yeah it was a lot.
Finally, there was Dan (Yes, I know Jenny and Vanessa were characters on this show, but the rage they fill me with is too vast to be covered in a single article). Dan, while incredibly irritating, was an interesting character in the first two seasons. His conflicting disdain and fascination about the world around him mirrored the viewers. Eventually, though, Dan became just as bad as the New York elites he despised. Even worse he lacked the self-awareness of the other characters, who knew they were awful, just didn't really care, this leads to the character becoming so insufferable that whenever I see him on screen I audibly scream.
Dan being Gossip Girl, not only made no sense from a narrative standpoint (so many plot-holes) but made Dan, an awful character in his own right, even worse. As Gossip Girl Dan tortured his family and "friends" for years. He released information about his sister's sex life, outed Eric to the entire world (and Jenny's boyfriend, but he was unimportant), cost Blaire her acceptance to Yale, deeply damaged multiple relationships, and went to school each day with the people he traumatized and proceeded to act like nothing was wrong. Rather than the show, you know, hold Dan accountable for his actions, they chose to give him acceptance into the group of New York Elites, he always wanted but never had.
Obviously Dan being Gossip Girl was disappointing, yet, in my opinion, its rarely discussed how creepy his role as Gossip Girl is as well. Dan started Gossip Girl as a ploy to impress Serena. He essentially cyber-stalked her for her years. Rather than acknowledging how deeply creepy Dan's actions are, they're romanticized, he and Serena get married. In the show, Dan's actions are seen as a part of the group's teenage years and even a good lesson.
I refuse to accept that narrative. Dan was insane. I don't care how much he "liked" Serena. He severely damaged multiple people's lives, including and especially those closest to him. On his new show "You", Penn Badgley, plays the true Dan Humphrey. The guy who thinks who thinks he knows best, especially when it's in the name of love. The difference between You and Gossip Girl is that You understands that its main character is in the wrong, and how deeply disturbed his actions are. Joe may be the name of my character, but in my mind, he's just the true Dan Humphrey emerging from the shadows