It’s the second Friday in March, and nobody seems to be going outside anymore. I’m glued to my couch watching season 1, episode 11 of Gossip Girl, in which Blair Waldorf is coming to terms with her dad. He’s recently come out as gay and is moving to Paris to live with his boyfriend, who — scandal upon scandal! — used to be a model for Blair’s fashion designer mother.
Now it’s July, and I’ve moved a mile down the street from my old apartment. Gossip Girl’s Dan Humphrey is, improbably, getting a story published in the New Yorker as a high-school junior. It’s August, the eve of my birthday, and Nate Archibald is running The Spectator, which is surely not a parallel to Jared Kushner’s ownership of the New York Observer. It’s Thanksgiving, and I’m making three men between the ages of 28 and 31 watch as Jason Derulo’s “Whatcha Say” plays over the now-iconic Thanksgiving scene in season 3 in which everyone exposes everyone else’s secrets at the dinner table. And now it’s January, and there’s a fascist insurrection happening in Washington, D.C., but I still have to work, so to add another layer of noise and chaos to my day, I watch as Rufus and Lily’s love child, who is now an adult, comes into town, dates boring Vanessa, and, after revealing his identity, leaves again.
The only TV I want to watch anymore is the kind that doesn’t make me think too hard. It’s nice that some people want to be mentally stimulated at a time like this, but I can’t relate. Every day feels like my brain is floating through a swimming pool of molasses. This is all to say that since March, I’ve watched all of nearly every available reality and soap opera franchise of the past decade, including every iteration of Real Housewives, Summer House, Southern Charm, The Hills, Laguna Beach, Chopped, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, Entourage, and, of course, Gossip Girl.
Every television show from before the streaming era seems to get a second life online, complete with a newly obsessive fan base, new memes, and a new audience watching it with fresh eyes. While Gen Z is watching The Office, marveling at the idea of going to work or having…