TV shows feature characters with utterly important lives. Even characters who aren’t the most talented or wealthy appear to have an entertaining existence, seemingly something to do on any given day of the week. Take Lonely Boy from Gossip Girl.
Dan “Lonely Boy” Humphrey, a teenager who’s a class below the Upper East Siders, yet still rich enough to attend a private school in New York with Manhattan’s elite, appears to do something every night of the week. Because my life isn’t like that at all (I was a hermit long before the pandemic began), it makes me wonder: Do TV shows take place on the weekends? Do normal people do something entertaining every night of the week?
Although I’m taking the featured image (Love Life’s Darby Carter, played by Anna Kendrick) out of context, am I the only one who sprawls across the couch, waiting for the weekend to start?
Even when I studied abroad in Barcelona, I didn’t casually do things on weekdays. Although, there were certain occasions when I broke my monotonous routine. I’ve always worried about money. Or pushed financial decisions to my older self to figure out. I’ll be paying off my study abroad program for years to come … yet I graduated in 2014.
I fantasize about how my life could be more glamorous if I had, at long last, my personal and financial lives line up at the same time. Like most naive people in their early twenties, I once had unrealistic dreams. I lived in the moment and pushed off my problems for a future date. The world had yet to break me down. Broke as shit, sure. But my veins were pumping with an I’m-going-to-make-it mentality.
For most of my time in California, I’ve been broke. I’ve been on this planet for thirty years and scrounging for money every single one. Some say I’m bad with money. They’re right. Yet I also work in an industry where people work 40-plus hours a week and wonder where their paychecks go. Money comes in and it disappears even faster.
Before 2020, friends, as I’ve said many times, had always been my greatest currency. My problem isn’t lacking social events — it’s having the money to attend the events. But then the pandemic hit and Los Angeles’ entertainment doors closed. For many reasons, I haven’t worried about money as much as usual, yet my social calendar drifted away like a summer that goes by too fast.
I look forward to the pandemic’s end. And, for the first time in a long time, there are reasons to be optimistic.
My financial woes won’t be solved the moment the doors to the world open back up. Yet I can still dream. I type my fingers raw so one day I’ll no longer have to double-check my bank account before purchasing a round of drinks. I desire to say yes to trivia night on a random weekday — even if the thought of trivia night makes my body chill with anxiety. Going to dive bars and pouring my heart out is more my speed.
In the first season of Gossip Girl, Nate Archibald’s bank account drains from $200,000 to ZERO. He’s rightfully worried about this inconvenience. Yet I couldn’t help but think: Hey, at least he has $0.
Thanks to lovely overdraft fees, I’ve had no money turn into negative figures on countless occasions. Do you know what it feels like to have negative money in your bank account? Shitty. But life is all about knowing thyself and making changes to better your life. You have to protect yourself from the monster that is yourself. Now, I have a bank account that can’t, under any circumstance, charge me a fee for being broke.
I’ve also improved at keeping track of the monies that are in my account, the transactions that go in, and the ones that go out. I found “stable” work during the pandemic — of all times — in an industry that makes layoffs seem routine, almost seasonal.
2021 is the first time I turned on Gossip Girl. The teen drama debuted in 2007.
It’s weird to see Chace Crawford play teenager Nate. As the first role I remember seeing him play is The Deep in The Boys, an anti-superhero series that debuted in 2019.
I also recognize Ed Westwick as Chuck Bass. The first role I remember him playing is Balt, a vampire literature-loving student in Hank Moody’s class, in Californication.
And, of course, there’s Penn Badgley, who plays Dan. Yet Badgley also stars in Netflix’s You as a romantic psychopath named Joe Goldberg.
And then a wave of sadness hit me.
Because actors are people, too. And an air of melancholy blows in while you watch a TV series when the actors, who are now adults, were just kids. I wonder where all the time went. The actors who play young Chuck, Dan, and Nate are now in their thirties, and so am I. These actors seemed to have good gigs, yet I’ve hardly seen them star in anything since — despite this being the first time I remember watching Gossip Girl. I wonder if they struggled with money issues, despite playing prominent roles as privileged kids who didn’t have to worry about money. Without Googling their net worths, I’m hoping they’re financially stable.
There’s a scene in season one (full disclosure, I’m only on season two) where Blair Waldorf (Leighton Meester) travels to Blake Lively’s… I mean Serena van der Woodsen’s place. Or maybe it’s Nate’s? Yet that’s not the point. The point is that Blair goes to another character’s home just to leave a few minutes later. What a luxury it would be to have that much free time. And this is in a world that didn’t have Uber. Sure, all the Upper East Siders appear to have personal town cars, but I digress.
My neighbor can’t even get me out of my apartment to go a few doors down. Yet Blair traveled to her friend’s house to pop in before embarking on a more exciting journey. She had things to do, people to see — get out of her way, dammit!
Although I’m only a couple of episodes into the second season, I can confidently say Gossip Girl isn’t a TV show about a friend going to another friend’s house. Or aging actors. Or Trevor’s money issues and craving for a glamorous life. Although daily routines and the way people live fascinate me, Gossip Girl is a show about privileged people living extravagantly.
The kids in the show — and, face it, most of the adults — are spoiled brats who live larger than life and walk in the same footsteps as fellow larger-than-life characters featured in Sex and the City. Because most of the characters also live the lifestyle in Manhattan, a city I put so high on a pedestal that I’m starting to wonder if it’s even real. (Is it real?)
Even the “less fortunate” kids like Dan and his sister Jenny (Taylor Momsen) are doing just fine. They live in Brooklyn, not to be mistaken with Manhattan. From what I’ve heard, Brooklyn is perfectly splendid, and Dan and Jenny live in a welcoming loft with their rockstar dad.
Gossip Girl, Sex and the City, and Love Life (Darby’s journey is the least far-fetched yet still pleasant) follow characters who seemingly do things every night of the week.
So, do TV shows take place on the weekends? Who has time to do things every night?
The most plausible answer: It’s not that TV characters are always doing something. Instead, TV shows put the limelight on remarkable characters. After all, no one wants to watch a show about a person who sits alone in his room all day. I lived that life and it doesn’t make for good TV. And it doesn’t hurt that TV personalities, at least in the three shows mentioned above, come from means or have stable incomes.
The more money you have, the more you can do — no matter what day of the week the calendar lands on.
I still question how Gossip Girls’ underage teenagers are served alcohol in public — I worry about the drinking problems that will likely drown them when they’re older — but I’ll chalk it up to having enough money to do whatever they want. They can probably afford luxurious rehabs if it ever comes to that time and place. Rich people solve problems by throwing money at them.
Then again, I’m only on season two. And I’m happily living vicariously through the characters as they dance around New York and make the city their playground. One day — hopefully soon — that will be me.