You Ever Notice That The Gossip Girl TV Show is a Lot Like Persuasion?

So welcome back every one! I enjoyed my week off. As we had a lot of free time last month (April) with the quarantine and shelter in place I watched a lot of TV. Some new things, some old comforts or guilty pleasures.

Of course I am always on the lookout for Jane Austen bingos and Jane Austen comparisons. One that recently came to mind was this: you ever notice that Gossip Girl the TV show (not the book series as I have never read it) is a lot like Persuasion?

What are you talking about??

I know what you are thinking, what does a show about the rich and famous Upper East Siders who drink, do drugs, scheme, and intermix their relationships (I think this show had almost every character date another of the main characters) have anything to do with Jane Austen?

Hmm…

The relationship of Lily Van der Woodsen and Rufus Humphrey

Hmm…

So quick summary on both:

Persuasion is a story that spans over several years. When Anne Elliot and Fredrick Wentworth are young they become engaged, and Anne is persuaded to turn him down as he could die, she could be left with nothing, they are young, he is leaving for the Navy, her family won’t approve, etc. He thinks it is solely because she from a rich distinguished family, and he’s a nobody. He becomes angry, takes a lot of chances in the war and increases his wealth and stature. He returns to find Anne unmarried and her family has lost their money, letting their mansion out to Fredrick’s sister and brother-in-law. Anne has never gotten over Fredrick and is shocked to see him enter her life again. Intrigue happens as some women are striving for Frederick’s heart, a woman has a ploy to snag Anne’s father Sir Walter Elliot, and a estranged relative reappears planning to go after his inheritance and cousin. Will the two get their happy ending together? Or has too much time passed?

Anne in the background, Captain Frederick Wentworth in the foreground with Louisa Musgrove.

In Gossip Girl we have the story of Dan and Jenny Humphrey who live in Brooklyn and attend the private school for the rich and famous on scholarship. Dan is a loner who is there to do well and go to college, hopefully achieving his dream of attending Dartmouth or Yale. Jenny strives to be just like the wealthy and rich, being the Queen B: Blair Waldorf’s lackey. Serena Van der Woodsen returns from boarding school and upsets everyone’s life: Blair is displeased at sharing the spotlight, Blair’s boyfriend Nate is in love with Serena, Chuck Bass is just a jerk with problems & lashing out, and for Dan she is his dream girl. Dan and Serena have a relationship but will he be able to handle the lifestyles of the rich and famous? The story spans several years, breakups and makeups, schemes, intrigue, fashion, money, etc.

The parents and adults on this show are just as bad as the children-drugs, drinking, affairs, etc. Lily is Serena’s mother and former roadie and girlfriend to Rufus Humphrey, former aspiring rock star, and Dan’s father. They traveled around but Lily left him for her life on the West Side. They are thrown back together when their kids date, but the flames between them have not quite died out. And almost every move and act is commented and written about on the Gossip Girl blog.

***Spoiler Warning***

So I know this still might not be making total sense to you, but bear with me until the end and comment if you see it or if you think there is no comparison.

I have never read the books and am basing this on the storyline in the TV show. In the TV show Lily was raised on the Upper West Side, is rich, famous, and beautiful, but also not as stuffy or following in the path of her mother-there is a serious disconnect between her and her mother (and her and her father as shown in one episode). She does not follow the plans her mother wanted for her, but instead gets involved with the average, aspiring rock and roll star, Rufus, and they are so adorable together.

How sweet!

Unfortunately, Lily’s mother, Celia Catherine “CeCe” Rhodes, persuades her against staying with Rufus as she threatens to cut Lily off and will her trust fund and inheritance away. That wouldn’t have stopped Lily except that her mother also convinced her that Lily would be unable to handle a regular life, that eventually Rufus would move on (an aspiring rock star can’t be faithful), her parents and family would never see her again or have anything to do with her, and she would end up poor and alone.

This reminded me a lot of what happened with Anne. While Anne was close to her mother, after she died she was left with her father who she shares a similar disconnect and he also has zero involvement in her life (like Lily’s dad). Anne may not be wild like Lily, but she definitely ranks high in his disapproval. Like Lily, she fell in love with someone society deemed “beneath” her, but also fell victim to the persuasion of a family friend, someone she trusted and loved as a second mother, Lady Russell. The social rank doesn’t matter to Anne, like it does to Lady Russell, but like Lily-Anne falls victim to the what ifs-if she had married Frederick she could end up with no family support (or ever seeing them again), no money, a wounded turned alcoholic husband, the life of drudgery, a widow with nothing, etc. (In fact she could end up with the same life of Fanny Price’s mother)

Fanny (left) and Mrs. Price, her mother, and little sister (right).

In Gossip Girl, it has been over 16 years and Rufus and Lily find themselves back together again. Rufus’ initial reaction is very similar to Captain Wentworth, as he is hurt and angry at how he was treated by his love. The two verbally spar with each other, but as they spend time together, they end up falling for each other again. Rufus realizes his feelings for her when his wife he’s been separated from for months (who is cheating on him), returns. Seeing her back with his family, coupled with him meeting her lover, makes him realize that it’s over for them and he really wants to be with Lily. This part reminded me of when Louisa, the girl Captain Frederick has been constantly flirting with, falls and injures herself making it impossible for him to get with Anne as everyone thinks he is engaged to Louisa-this situation cluing him into the fact that he is still in love with Anne and doesn’t want to be with anyone else. Luckily, Louisa is tended to by Captain Benwick and is engage to him, freeing Captain Wentworth and allowing him to chase after his true love.

So in Persuasion, Captain Wentworth needs to let Anne know his feelings and he writes her one of the most romantic letters so that she has concrete proof he cares for her. Rufus is also very romantic and while he doesn’t write Lily a letter he “walks” (as I don’t believe that he really walked the whole way) from Brooklyn to the Upper East Side in the snow with no coat to tell Lily that he loves her, leaving her with a romantic voicemail.

Both Lady Russell (Anne’s godmother) and CeCe Rhodes (Lily’s mother) realize their mistakes as both stories progress. Lady Russell sees that Frederick is a good man and will take care of Anne, along with valuing her. CeCe also realizes her mistake in having separated the two and even encourages them to get together.

But of course the TV series ran for six seasons and LOVED the drama, so every time Rufus and Lily drew close, they broke up or something came to keep them apart. Eventually, they do marry and I really liked them together, but then Lily’s ex-husband was poisoning her to think she had cancer and rely on him and she couldn’t tell Rufus (so that caused issues) and even later her previous husband Bart Bass-who died but somehow miraculously lived, comes back from the grave so her marriage to Rufus is invalid. And then she ends up with her ex-husband who poisoned her, which is one of the dumbest decisions that TV show made, really? Why would she be with him when he was POISONING her?

So it has parallel’s to Persuasion, but unfortunately they don’t get the happy ending Wentworth and Anne do.

So what do you think? Do you see the similarities? Or are these two stories completely different from each other? Comment below!

For more on Persuasion, go to The Jane Austen Book Club (2007)

For more on Gossip Girl, go to Prom Book Dream Come True: Valley Girl, Gossip Girl (2009)

For more Jane Austen meets modern culture, go to Austen Avengers Assemble!

Rational Creatures: Anne Elliot, Mrs. Croft, Mrs. Clay, & Louisa Musgrove

Rational Creatures edited by Christina Boyd

For those of you who might have missed the last post, Rational Creatures is an anthology of short stories on the different women of Jane Austen:

But not just the main heroines-there are a few other side characters like Miss Bates-and of course a couple of bad girls like Mary Crawford and Mrs. Clay. Each story gives us a look at these rational creatures.

So far we have reviewed Elinor and Marianne Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility with Self-Composed by Christina Morland and Every Past Affliction by Nicole Clarkston; Elizabeth Bennet and Charlotte Lucas from Pride and Prejudice in Happiness in Marriage by Amy D’Orazio and Charlotte’s Comfort by Joana Starnes;  Emma Woodhouse, Miss Bates, and Harriet Smith from Emma in Knightley Discourses by Anngela Schroeder,The Simple Things by J. Marie Croft and In Good Hands by Caitlin Williams, & Fanny Price and Mary Crawford from Mansfield Park in The Meaning of Wife by Brooke West and What Strange Creatures by Jenetta James And what have I thought of it so far?

This one is on Persuasion:

In Persuasion, Anne is the middle daughter of a Baron and is often ignored by her father who really only cares about himself. She becomes engaged to a naval soldier, but after speaking to her mother’s best friend, was persuaded it wasn’t the right decision.

Hmm…

Years pass, and another proposal, and Anne has grown older, wiser, and regretted turning her love down. With her father spending more than they have, they have to let the house, and the Admiral and Mrs. Croft rent it. Mrs. Croft’s brother, Captain Wentworth, comes to visit who happens to be the same soldier that she was engaged to! I don’t have to tell you that an interesting plot ensues!

I’ve only read a few adaptations of Persuasion and I’m excited to read this one. I like that there is a Mrs. Croft story.

An Unnatural Beginning by Elizabeth Adams

The story takes place before the events in Persuasion, starting when Charles Musgrove is trying to court Anne, but she is not interested, she still pines after Wentworth.

It’s not that Charles Musgrove is a bad man its just he isn’t the right man.

“He was a perfectly decent man. Kind, respectable, well-mannered. But alas, he possessed one fatal flaw that not even the best of manners could redeem.

He was not Frederick Wentworth.”

And being with Charles only makes her think even more when she met Commander Wentworth. He was visiting his brother in Monkford and Anne encounters him at a get-together and the two spend time together. She is completely struck by him.

With him

Back to the present, Charles continues to talk and court her, but she isn’t really present. The flame of her youth feels like it is dying.

Frederick proposes and Anne accepts, but then when she seeks advice-Lady Russell resoundly says no. I really enjoyed this part as all of Lady Russell’s arguments are extremely valid. I mean things could go wrong and she could become  poor widow-a poor widow who’s father isn’t going to help out (you’ve seen him). Or she could have ended up like Mrs. Price, Fanny’s mom.

“A large and still increasing family, an[sic] husband disabled for active service, but not the less equal to company and good liquor, and a very small income to supply their wants…”

I really enjoyed how Adams makes Lady Russell not evil, cruel, or even a snob (just a touch snoby). And I liked how fear drove Anne’s decision to break it off with Wentworth, but it is an extremely relatable fear

I really liked that we got a view into both proposals, as I have always wanted to see how both went down. And raise your hand if you think Charles continued to pine after Anne even though he married her sister (that line about Sir Elliot moving Charles to take Mary off his hands was gold.)

Both hands are up!

But that ending though. It pierces the heart.

 

This story was so sad, absolutely heartbreaking, but in a god way. A real way. This was so relatable and I really loved the language used. One of my favorite parts is when she describes how she feels about her beauty and youth fading. I think we all feel that when we are disappointed, injured, or broken in love, that we used to be more fun, gregarious. etc. The whole thing was so good, so sad, so heartbreaking, and I think Jane would be proud. As for me:

I’m going to hide under the covers with my ice cream

Just kidding. It was a wonderful read, just get those tissues ready.

For more on Anne Elliot, go to Austen Avengers Assemble!

Where the Sky Touches the Sea by KaraLynne Mackrory

So this story picks up in the middle of Persuasion about chapter 8 before and after the dinner party. The Crofts are heading to out and their gig gets stuck in the mud, but they get through it together. This leads Mrs. Croft to think on their relationship and thier marriage.

This story was so cute and sad. But the good kind of sad. I don’t know how to review it without giving anything away. Just be prepared, if you are a crier-have tissues ready. It is just a sweet little story.

I’m so sad and happy!

I’ve always loved the Admiral and Mrs. Croft and it makes me love them more. One thing I love about Jane Austen is how she has these horrible marriages (like Charles and Mary Musgrove, Sir Walter, etc.) but then these amazing ones like he Crofts. I think Mackrory really got the heart of the characters and I loved her story.

So romantic! So cute!

For more by KaraLynne Mackrory “Clandestiny” from The Darcy Monologues: Part I, The Regency

For more on Mrs. Croft, go to A Bit Pottery About Jane Austen

The Art of Pleasing by Lona Manning

So Mrs. Clay has an interesting backstory in this. She was “married” to a corrupt merchant who juggled the book and raked in every extra but he could. When things got too heated he took off, leaving Mrs. Clay with her two boys and nothing.

She heads home hiding her disgrace under the guise of widowhood and then implements herself into the Elliot household. It wasn’t her idea, but her father’s, the Elliot’s solicitor, as he wants her to gather intel on the Elliot’s expenditures and hopefully influence them to spend less.

Mrs. Clay does so and better than ever. She becomes Elizabeth’s best friend, so much that Sir Walter and Elizabeth choose to take her with them to Bath and leave Anne behind.

Ouch

Mrs. Clay can’t really stand either of them, but is thrilled that about her new position. So thrilled at how Sir Walter trusts and leans on her. With this new possibility opening up, now Mrs. Clay starts using all her wit to try and snare him. She doesn’t like him, but does like becoming a lady, having a father for her sons, prestige, etc. And to rub Elizabeth, Anne, and Lady Russell’s faces in it would be great as well.

Sucks to be you

Everything was going well until Mr. Elliot came to town.

Smarming and plotting away.

Yes, Mr. Elliot plans on seducing both sisters and Mrs. Clay away from Sir Walter. Will she resist or succumb?

Hmmm

I really enjoyed this as I always thought Mrs. Clay (like Charlotte Lucas) was cunning, although much shrewder, and a bit more a mistress of her fate than they show in adaptations. I like how the author made her witty and shrewd even though she wasn’t “educated”. (That line about Paris was hilarious). This was great and spot on-that ending was perfect.

“A lady would have said, ‘Sir! What do you take me for?’

I whispered, ‘Yes.”

She and Mr. Elliot deserve each other.

Good job!

And this was perfect right after the two sadder stories.

For more by Lona Manning, go to “The Address of a Frenchwoman” from Dangerous to Know, Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues: MILD

Louisa by the Sea by Beau North

So we start this story after Louisa has had her fall. Louisa was very headstrong, stubborn, and always insisted on having her own way-

There was too much wind to make the high part of the new Cobb pleasant for the ladies, and they agreed to get down the steps to the lower, and all were contented to pass quietly and carefully down the steep flight, excepting Louisa; she must be jumped down them by Captain Wentworth. In all their walks, he had had to jump her from the stiles; the sensation was delightful to her. The hardness of the pavement for her feet, made him less willing upon the present occasion; he did it, however. She was safely down, and instantly, to show her enjoyment, ran up the steps to be jumped down again. He advised her against it, thought the jar too great; but no, he reasoned and talked in vain, she smiled and said, “I am determined I will:” he put out his hands; she was too precipitate by half a second, she fell on the pavement on the Lower Cobb, and was taken up lifeless! There was no wound, no blood, no visible bruise; but her eyes were closed, she breathed not, her face was like death. The horror of the moment to all who stood around!”

We start off with her recovering and North does a great job showing what it is like. My friend’s brother injured his head in a car accident and North was spot on with what they go through .

Louisa slowly recuperates, and who is by her side? Wentworth? No. Captain Benwick. Captain Benwick has a sad backstory, he fell in love with a woman who became sick and passed away. He hasn’t been able to do much since, but here he aids Louisa, by her side every moment, eating with her, reading to her, just all around supporting her.

So romantic! So cute!

The rest of her family feels awkward or unsettled or unsure what to do, but Benwick takes charge and helps.

Louisa has to relearn what to do, has violent headaches, a lot of trauma to noise, and seizures. Everyone thinks she is in love with Captain Wentworth, but Louisa has fallen head over heels (literally?) for Captain Benwick. Now how to convince him?

Hmmm….

Oh my gosh this story was so cute. I never really liked Louisa in Persuasion she just kind of annoyed me and of course we want Anne and Wentworth TOGETHER. But this gave a whole new spin and view on her. And I have always loved Captain Benwick, and I think this story just continued to show how wonderful a character and man he is. And they are so gosh darn cute together!!

“Are you certain?’…’Am I certain? No, my dear captain, it is far worse. I am determined.”

Aw! Squee!!

For more by Beau North, go to “Fitzwilliam’s Folly” from Dangerous to Know, Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues: MILD

These stories were just as great at the others, but be prepared-have tissues at the ready for those first two .

So far all have been amazing and we only have a few stories left?! Where did the time go? How are we almost at the end?

I guess all I can say is stay tuned for the final post.

For more reviews of Rational Creatures, go to Rational Creatures: Fanny Price & Mary Crawford

For more by Christina Boyd, go to Rational Creatures: Emma Woodhouse, Miss Bates, & Harriet Smith

For more Persuasion, go to It Sucks to Be Lady Elliot

For more Austen book reviews, go to Rational Creatures: Elizabeth Bennet & Charlotte Lucas