And you thought Lost was going to be the only show to delve into time travel this year! The CW announced last night that the long rumored Gossip Girl spin-off would officially be a prequel, centering on a teenage Lily Van Der Woodsen (né Lily Rhodes) and her exploits with her black sheep sister (who we’ve never even heard reference before, natch) in 1980s Los Angeles. Since we’re dealing with the 80s, we can’t help but picture a television version of Less Than Zero, though with the amount of sex and drugs that appear weekly on Gossip Girl (Chuck Bass was doing coke with two prostitutes just this week), that might seem quaint to viewers today. Of course, the show hasn’t yet been officially picked up, but expect to see a back-door pilot during an episode of Gossip Girl on May 11th. So far, no one has been cast, but it might be wise for Mischa Barton to wait by her phone.
The idea of a Gossip Girl spin-off has been circulating for some time, so we aren’t all that surprised by this news. However we’re happy to see that none of the original cast members will leave to tackle this new series, a maneuver that almost never works. (Instead of taking Kate Walsh off Grey’s Anatomy and putting her on Private Practice, Shonda Rhimes should have thought of something like this.) And while the new show still isn’t the Josh Schwartz-penned series about thirtysomethings in New York that we’ve been hoping for, it will allow Mr. Schwartz to indulge in all of his fetishistic 80s nostalgia. Imagine the references! The clothes! The music! Mr. Schwartz has worn his love for the decade on his sleeve since all the way back to The O.C. (sample Seth Cohen dialogue: "You can never have too many copies of The Goonies"), so it’s about time he dove into the 80s headfirst.
The only issue we can see here is viewers. Obviously we’re going to watch it, but will every Gossip Girl fan? Do they all care about Lily and, presumably at some point, Rufus, as much as we do? The ratings are up this season, but the show still only attracts around 3 million viewers per week (it ranked 108th last year). How many people can reasonably be expected to carry over to see a young Lily cavort all over Los Angeles while rocking out to "She Sells Sanctuary"?
Still, we’re not going to worry too much. The Gossip Girl spin-off doesn’t have to be in it for the long haul. In fact, it would be best served with a short, BBC-like run. We don’t need to see eighty episodes worth of Lily "finding" herself. Twenty will do just fine.