The CW is promising more sex, salaciousness and bed-hopping in the upcoming season of Gossip Girl, in a bid to boost poor first-season ratings. The racy ads promoting the new season, which starts Apr. 21, shows characters in various stages of mid-grope with âOMFGâ plastered across screen. Sex sells, no doubt about it. But wait. Isnât this a show about an exclusive Upper East Side prep school? That would make the characters between 13 and 17 years old. So, what weâre really talking about here is underage teen sex. This calls for some serious bitch-slapping.
Missing the Point
The television network, anticipating the controversy has issued a statement to address possible backlash -- about the ad: "We wanted to create a provocative campaign that stands out from the competition and reminds viewers of some of the OMG moments that have made 'Gossip Girl' one of the most buzzed about new shows on television. This sexy, sophisticated campaign speaks directly to our adult 18-34 viewers, using expressions that are part of their lexicon."
The initials might stand for "oh my frickin' goodness," Rick Haskins, CW's exec VP-marketing, suggested to AdAge magazine. But CW suits seem to be missing the point. Sure, OMFG may upset some.(For that small fraction of the population who may be clueless it means Oh My Fucking God.) But the real issue is the fact that the network is promoting underage promiscuity.
Web sites that tried the same thing would likely be prosecuted, or at least featured on ABCâs 20/20 segment âTo Catch a Predator.â The network's goal is to spark more interest from targeted viewers between the ages of 18 and 34. Of course, if anyone in that demographic were caught having sex with Serena van der Woodsen, (Blake Livelyâs character) they could face prosecution as well. Actually, the show appeals more to the 10- to 16-year-olds that look up to characters of that age. So what kind of message are they getting? Well, one recent survey found that twelve and a half is the average age when girls first experiment with oral sex. Itâs impossible to prove whether âGossip Girlâ is contributing to that trend. But it certainly isnât discouraging it.
The CW seems willing to take the heat. Sparking chatter about "Gossip Girl" is crucial because CW has had few breakout hits; its other popular show, "America's Next Top Model," is becoming stale, according to AdAge. "Gossip Girl" brought in $28.2 million in ad dollars in 2007, according to TNS Media Intelligence, attracting such marketers as Procter & Gamble, L'Oreal, Target and Johnson & Johnson, which happens to sell pregnancy tests like the one featured in a recent episode. In fact, "Gossip Girl" is also has a product-placement deal with Verizon Wireless, which the company paid millions of dollars for in a heated competition. No wonder the girls are on the "cellie" so much.
The show is based on a popular series of books by the same name and is supposed to give viewers a peek into the world of privileged teenagers at an elite private school in New York City, according to the Gossip Girl Web site. The story is written by The O.C.'s Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage, and directed by Mark Piznarski who has worked on series like Everwood and Veronica Mars.
Leighton Meester and Lively have the lead roles as rich Manhattan rivals. The latest additions to drama are Misconceptions' Taylor Momsen, The Covenant's Chace Crawford and The Bedford Diaries's Penn Badgley. Momsen plays Jenny, a shy 14-year-old girl; Nate is the good looking boyfriend of Blair and Dan is Serena's secret admirer.
E-Ring's Kelly Rutherford has been cast as Serenaâs mother. Sheâs a former ballerina and rock groupie. Afterlife's Ed Westwick has been cast as Chuck Bass and Brothers and Sisters' Matthew Settle has been cast as Rufus Humphrey, the father of Jenny and Dan.
The upcoming premier episode