Every so often, you will run into a Gossip Girl fan who still truly believes that Chuck and Blair have something of an ideal relationship.
Every so often, you will run into an overly-informed person who believes the show is toxic and should be condemned.
Which one of these people is more wrong? It’s true that Chuck and Blair’s mutual toxicity seems to work for them, and it’s true that the characters in the show display problematic behavior, from the constant and blatant classism to selling girlfriends for hotels.
But as I re-watch the series in college, I come to certain realizations. Gossip Girl is subtle in what it ultimately accomplishes: that no person, rich or poor, kind or cold, exists without variations in character.
For five episodes, you might have seen Blair Waldorf as an absolute witch, and then in the next five, you might’ve sympathized with her. There are no constant good guys, or bad guys. Yes, some characters had the tendency to act in certain ways — Blair with her scheming or Serena Van der Woodsen being boring and having literally no character development — but at the end of the day, they were still human beings with the ability to act in both positive and negative ways.
Blair Waldorf, particularly, is an intensely dynamic character. She suffers the consequences of every bad thing she does, and has genuine character development throughout the series.
While Gossip Girl does contain elements that are more superficial, it also emphasizes how human its characters are, regardless of their immense wealth or the inane situations they get themselves into. And that’s why it lasted the test of time.