What is it called when a once-hit TV show about an omniscient blogger who makes and breaks reputations through the power of her scandal reports finds itself suffering from a lack of buzz from the real-life blogosphere, and a lack of interest from the public?
That's right, you might call it "irony".
Unless you're in the Gossip Girl camp, in which case you should call it a "big, fat problem."
This morning the New York Daily News reports that Gossip Girl, which is in its third season of following the fictitious lives of the Upper East Side's young, rich, and glamorous, is "the show that was once on the tip of everyone's tongue," but "now seems to be in the back of their minds" despite ploys from The CW to dredge up interest using high-profile guest stars (Tyra Banks, Hilary Duff, Sonic Youth) and "controversial" storylines, such as Chuck's (Ed Westwick) "gay kiss," and the upcoming threesome.
So, what took Gossip Girl from "OMG" to "OMZzzzz"?
In short, according to one pop culture expert: it's getting old. And I'm not talking about the newly college-bound characters.
"The silence is deafening," Syracuse University Prof. Robert Thompson, a popculture expert, tells The News. "Gossip Girl was like Twitter - when people first discovered it, they couldn't stop talking about it. But the enchantment has worn off."
But why? With the help of Thompson, NY Daily News writer Cristina Kinon outlined a couple reasons that Gossip Girl is un-gossip-worthy in 2009.
Style Versus Substance
Kinon notes that Gossip Girl "catapulted into pop culture entirely on the back of its buzzworthiness - who is Gossip Girl? What was that song? Who makes those shoes S was rocking?" Not on the merits of its plot or compelling characters. Now that the initial buzz is wearing off, what's left--the story--holds little interest to the general public.
"It's getting a little long in the tooth," Thompson said. "The premise of the show was so interesting and exciting in the beginning, but this season's story lines don't seem to be clicking. It's not like if you watch an episode this season, you can say that it's fundamentally worse than it was last season - it just doesn't seem to have the shelf life of other programming."
Stars Aren't As Much of a Draw
Where the show's stars were the young, fresh new faces of Hollywood, their inherent newsworthiness--even as Chace Crawford graces People as their Hottest Bachelor of the year--seems to be waning as well.
"They're no longer that interesting," AOL Television's Maggie Furlong told the News, also noting that her story on Gossip Girl-inspired Halloween costumes garnered only one comment from readers. "That would have never happened a year ago. Now everyone wants to argue about the Gosselins instead."
The ratings for Gossip Girl this season seem only to reinforce these theories. In the last few weeks, the show has dipped below 2 million viewers, where it used to consistently post numbers above 3 million in its first season.
Guest Star Overload
While neither Kinon or Thompson addressed the issue, I can't help but wonder if the slew of special guest stars and press-baiting storylines has actually hurt the series more than helped. As a longtime viewer who enjoys the series, and gets paid to pay diligent attention to each excruciating detail, it saddens me to say this season of Gossip Girl truly is considerably more disjointed than either of those that came before. Forcing one-shot guest stars into an already overloaded cast has the show's writers consistently creating plotlines that are inconsequential to the overall momentum.
Now eight episodes into season 3, the show has no underlying, cohesive plot around which its mainstays can rally--in turn, as the weeks go on, these characters interact less with each other than any other scripted show I've ever seen. One week Serena is frolicking with her new boyfriend Carter, and the next she's wrangling Tyra Banks: both have since evaporated from the series.
Gossip Girl episodes stand isolated, trapped within their requisite, obvious structures--at least one special guest, one elaborate party, and one major confrontation per week--giving viewers very little drive to tune in Monday after Monday.
But some--at least 2 million--are still holding on to Gossip Girl, despite more casual viewers who have moved on to the next big thing. And even though these diehards, and the CW, don't seem too worried about "buzz," or their show's future, perhaps they should be. According to Thompson, "buzz is like a Dow Jones Industrial Average, an indicator of things to come."