Let's address the shaggy, well-dressed-but-still-really-not-that-well-dressed elephant in the room: As the photo above makes apparent, "Rufus Getting Married" is the "Sonic Youth episode" of Gossip Girl. Not only did the band arrive just in time to play an acoustic version of the EVOL single "Starpower" for Lily and Rufus' first dance as husband and wife, but Kim Gordon, Internet-ordained minister, performed the wedding ceremony. Unless you're the type of music-loving curmudgeon who still believes in the concept of selling-out (In which case: C'mon, Grandma, take the Dischord pin off of your handbag and join the rest of society), this should only raise one question—a question, it should be noted, posed far more poetically by Gawker back in August: Who was this episode for?
On its ever-important surface, Gossip Girl is a television program for tween-to-teenaged girls. But it's also a show created in part by Josh Schwartz, a showrunner whose first major foray into prime-time television, The O.C., was widely praised for fleshing-out its adult characters as well as its teen characters. So Gossip Girl is a television program for people who identify on some level (hopefully not too much) with the show's principal parental figures, Lily and Rufus; people with a strong sense of nostalgia about their first pair of Doc Martens, who might have imagined a first dance scored by a Sonic Youth slow jam. And, because of its soundtrack of emerging and established "good" bands, scripts littered with references, eye-popping art direction, and a self-aware attitude that doesn't care if you're watching it out of hate or out of love, Gossip Girl is a television program for the pop-culture junkie and the pusher of his or her fix. So me and, presumably, you. Gossip Girl has our number, guys, and it has your number too, Gen X (Who's already pre-ordered the deluxe "Starpower" pack?) and, unfortunately, when it's playing to what it thinks we want, it's often at its weakest.
That's not to say tonight's episode was terrible; Georgina's return and Carter's problems with the Buckleys were both decent Gossip Girl plots stranded in B- and C-story territory by the Bass-Humphrey nuptials. And despite the continually lowered stakes of the wedding—a big to-do with Mayor Bloomberg on the guest list, downgraded to a casual gathering in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, which was then abandoned for an intimate loft party featuring Sonic Youth—the stakes of those of plots weren't raised at all. Yes, Georgina's a cold, ruthless bitch, but she handed Lily and Rufus the "Scott's your son" bomb rather than dropping it on them. The consequences Carter faces for leaving a Buckley cousin at the altar were too vague to be satisfying, despite the ominous presence of his would-be brother-in-laws—who might pound his face in off-camera. Or just take him for a very awkward limo ride? It's too subtle, Gossip Girl, and subtlety fits you like Serena's peek-a-boo outfit-of-the-week: just this side of uncomfortable.
Georgina's revelation injected a little adrenaline into the wedding story, but before that it was typical "I'm Lily and I'm incapable of love" and "I'm Rufus, and I'm just kind of dumb" stuff. After that it was sappy, with a family reunion at the Chinatown bus stop (Forget it, Lil. It's a Chinatown bus stop), but Lily was allowed one moment of pure, unadulterated Gossip Girl venom before finding out Scott was her child. Coincidentally, it involved her treating Scott like one of the kids she already knew about, treating him like a second-class citizen and invoking the power of the "private event" in order to shoo away the stranger with Eric's eyes. Nice set—too bad Georgina whiffed on the spike.
We're five middling episodes into Gossip Girl's third season, and I think I've isolated the cause of the show's recent lack of entertainment value: The Humphreys are having an unfortunate normalizing and calming effect on everyone around them. Chuck saw an opportunity to finally topple Carter Baizen tonight, but ended up respecting the guy for risking his neck by showing up at the wedding. Serena is following through on her commitment to K.C. and her public relations firm. Blair palled around with Dan at the aborted garden ceremony. I'd love to see the ratings for "Rufus Getting Married" broken-down by demographics, because I can't imagine that core of tweens and teens stuck around for long after they saw Jenny's new crop of "mean girls" and Blair's NYU lackeys preparing for the wedding rather than scheming. The fact that the episode closed in the loft is a bad omen—a Bad Moon Rising, if you will. Just as Blair has always feared, the Humphreys have fully infiltrated the UES—and the Gossip Girl universe—and they're remaking it in their own image. At least that image has Sonic Youth cameos.
-If you remain compelled to yell "Sellout!" at Thurston Moore and company, your shouts are a year late: Moore's connection to the show stretches back to last season's "There Might Be Blood," where his guitar backed up Jemina Pearl's voice on a mostly terrible, commissioned cover of "Sheena Is A Punk Rocker."
-I'll blame it on the late hour, but I can't make the connection between the dim sum lunch, Chuck's Asian massage, and the Chinatown bus.
-Once more, vagueness gets in the way of sweet revenge: What are Vanya and Dorota's plans for Georgina, and will we get to see her resulting embarrassment next week?
-Bree and Nate update: Bree was using Nate to get to Carter, thus making their relationship incrementally less boring.
-I could rag on the Humphreys' choice of wedding band, but I'm structuring my honeymoon around the Pavement reunion shows in Central Park, so that would just be the pot calling the kettle "hipster," wouldn't it? (PS Always great to see Pavement bassist Mark Ibold playing with Sonic Youth.)
-With Tyra Banks, Sonic Youth, and Chuck's long-rumored man-kiss (in next week's episode) all cropping up in October, I'm hoping the truly insane stops will be pulled out during November sweeps. So far there's talk of two things, neither of which are as provocative as anyone thinks they are: A threesome (huh) and a Lady Gaga cameo (ugh).