‘Gossip Girl‘ is a teen drama series that captured the minds and hearts of the audiences from 2007-2012. It is created by Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage and stars Blake Lively, Leighton Meester, Penn Badgley, and Chace Crawford in the lead roles. It follows a group of young adults belonging to wealthy families that attend a prestigious school together.
Their intermingling lives and romantic entanglements provide viewers with an enjoyable modern-day fairytale. However, viewers have often wondered whether this surreal tale has its roots in reality. Is ‘Gossip Girl’ based on a true story? We also got curious about the same and decided to dig out the answer for you. Here’s everything we learned in that regard!
Is Gossip Girl Based on a True Story?
No, ‘Gossip Girl’ is not based on a true story. The television series is based on a series of novels penned by author Cecily von Ziegesar. The fiction books also center upon Serena and Blair, and the show is a loose adaptation of the books with many similarities and differences to its source material. The fictional Constance Billard School that the main characters in the books (and by extension the TV series) attend is said to be based on the real-life all-girls preparatory school, Nightingale-Bamford. The fictional school is depicted to be located on 93rd Street, East of 5th Avenue, not far from the real-life school.
The novels are inspired by von Ziegesar’s time at the Nightingale-Bamford. The author graduated from the school in 1988 and has revealed that portions of the novels are partially inspired by what she heard from her friends. In a way, that makes von Ziegesar the real-world analogous of the omniscient blogger known as a Gossip Girl. In the books, the blogger is known for publishing articles that expose the secrets of the main characters. In the show, the blogger maintains a similar role, albeit she also serves as the narrator.
The character of Serena van der Woodsen is reportedly loosely based on the real-life socialite Hadley Nagel, who reportedly also attended Nightingale-Bamford. The author herself seemingly confirmed that Nagel at least partially inspired the character of Serena when she inscribed a note on a copy of one of her novels gifted to Nagel. The note read: “To Hadley, the real thing. I hope you don’t mind being hassled about being the model for Serena. So, so funny! Sounds like you’re doing a lot more important things than Serena ever did, and more beautiful too. XOXO.”
However, it is important to note that the publication of books predates Nagel’s adolescent years. Therefore, it is possible that Nagel might not be the inspiration behind Serena after all. Although, given the Upper East Side setting of the novels, any number of real socialites might have served as an inspiration for the main characters.
As far as the reboot series is concerned, the story and characters seem completely fictional. The new series is not based on the books but shares the same fictional continuity as its predecessor. The reboot is mostly an original creation from Joshua Safran, Stephanie Savage, and Josh Schwartz, who previously worked on the original series.
“It was very important, if you’re doing a show about power and privilege, to actually look at how that affects all people, whether you’re queer, whether you’re Black, whether you’re older—that’s really what we wanted Gossip Girl to do this time around because Gossip Girl herself is the great leveler,” Safran told Vanity Fair. Therefore, it is safe to say that the new ‘Gossip Girl’ has more relatable and relevant themes compared to the original.
Part of the charm of the books and TV shows is their soap opera-style and borderline fantastical nature, which further sets them apart from reality. The little sense of realism the shows carry is derived from time-appropriate fashion, music, and real-world locations heavily featured in the show.
Ultimately, the original ‘Gossip Girl’ and the new iteration are both largely fictional stories that give us a peek behind the curtain that guards the wealthy and privileged people of New York’s Upper East Side. While there is some semblance of reality, the shows are nothing more than hearty entertainment, providing the audience an escape from their mundane lives.
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