'Gossip Girl' recap: Tim Gunn and Taylor Momsen meet at last
Were you anticipating this week's episode as anxiously as I was, Upper East Siders of the world? After the CW taunted us with a rerun last Monday, I was curious for the return of Taylor Momsen, who seemed to transform into a rebellious teenage punk in real life soon after she started playing one on "Gossip Girl." (For a recent example, read all about the 17-year-old's boob-flashing stunt at her band the Pretty Reckless' New York performance last week.) But what I really wanted to see was Momsen sharing the screen with wonderful "Project Runway" mentor Tim Gunn, who has said that when he was on the "Gossip Girl" set to film his guest spot, he couldn't stand working with her.
For those who haven't been following Gunn's telling-it-like-it-is tour, in which he's told us how he really feels about everyone from Anna Wintour to Lady Gaga, here's a quick review of his thoughts on the actress who plays Jenny Humphrey: "What a diva!" he told E! Online. "She was pathetic, she couldn't remember her lines, and she didn't even have that many. I thought to myself, 'why are we all being held hostage by this brat?' "
Them's fighting words! So I went into episode wondering what their onscreen chemistry would be like — and whether it would reveal anything about what happened between them that so deeply disgusted the classiest man ever to appear on reality TV.
The moment when Jenny finally meets Tim comes halfway through the hour, after Blair has quarantined Little J to her apartment for the duration of her one-day visit to New York and Chuck has manipulated his stepsister into showing up at his hotel for B's minions to photograph. Even before all five of Jenny's models walk in wearing short, black dresses, each with a letter of the word "WHORE" scrawled across them in red, care of Blair, her meeting with Tim is stiff. And since there's no reason Tim-the-character would be nervous around a high schooler looking for a recommendation, it seems like the tension between Gunn and Momsen made it to the final cut. Both spit out lines like they're reading them for the first time.
The script doesn't do them any favors, either. "This is quite a statement, Jenny. We're done!" Tim blusters, simultaneously prudish and tyrannical, as he banishes Little J from his office. "I don't know if this is your idea of a joke, but it's not funny!" Whether the dialogue, Momsen or both are to blame, I barely recognize in this character the Tim Gunn I've grown to love in eight seasons of "Project Runway."
Even later in the episode, when Chuck contrives to have Tim and Jenny meet up at a party and he suddenly becomes his empathetic self, something feels off. It's as though, by the time they actually made it to filming, Gunn just couldn't deal with being in the same room as Momsen. At some moments, he looks positively twitchy! A question for those of you who watch both "GG" and "Project Runway": Am I blowing this out of proportion, or did you find the Gunn-Momsen awkwardness unbearable too?
When all is said and done, Gunn racks up just a few minutes of screen time, and we don't see what becomes of his promise to give Jenny another chance. In fact, by the end of the hour, she's on her way back to Mom in Hudson — and that's the episode's biggest surprise. Is it possible that Little J's return could be this brief? Will Momsen's hiatus be even longer than we've been led to believe? If Gunn is right about the way she acts on set, perhaps that wouldn't be such a shock.
The other big news this week is all Juliet-related. She and Nate run into each other outside the Staten Island prison where Ben (who we now know really is Juliet's brother) and Nate's dad are both serving time. Awkward! Again, Nate starts to suspect something's up with Juliet ... until she spins a few more unconvincing lies, which the poor, simple blue blood eventually believes. But she's been lied to as well: Ben tells her it's fine she's starting to fall for Nate and then beats up his father to send the message that it is not, in fact, OK.
The last revelation — and the most exciting for me, because I predicted it in my last recap — is that Colin, the businessman and newly minted professor Serena spent the night with, is in cahoots with Juliet and Ben. In fact, he's paying Juliet for something, so he may just turn out to be the real ringleader. Is he the third sibling or just an interested party? Could this possibly be about something as boring as Serena's family's business dealings? Does anyone out there have guesses to keep us going till next week?
Other scattered thoughts
— Blair's Hitchcockian Jenny Humphrey nightmare is brilliant. The costumes, the soundtrack, the lighting — all perfect. A great Halloween touch.
— I continue to be displeased with Blair's new minions. Why do they make their first appearance on this episode dressed in red and yellow, Ronald McDonald style?
— Although realism has never been "Gossip Girl's" strong suit, there were a few moments this week where I just could not suspend my disbelief: Why would tabloid fixture Serena think going to a media party with her new professor was a good idea? Why wouldn't Jenny send someone else to pick up her portfolio at Chuck's hotel? Blair is watching her, and she knows it. Why would Chuck be so upset by the idea of Jenny revealing that they slept together? Sure, she's his stepsister, but it's not like he doesn't actively promote his own libertine reputation. And finally, Nate's dad gets attacked in the prison library, a place that would clearly have supervision of some kind, and no one knows who did it? Really?
— About five minutes before the end of the episode, I realized Vanessa hadn't made a single appearance. Was she missed? Nope.
"Gossip Girl" highbrow reference watch
"I'll just grab these blueprints Lily left for me and let you get back to your Hemingway complex." — Chuck, referring to Dan's protectiveness of Jenny
Your weekly "Gossip Girl" fashion top five:
1. Serena's tan Porter Grey scarab top and black, tribal-patterned Tibi skirt.
2. Chuck's gray double-breasted suit. (Never mind why he's wearing it to class at Columbia. He's Chuck Bass!)
3. Jenny's beaded, one-shoulder Pucci dress.
4. Dan's all-black suit. Where did that come from?
5. Blair's gold Victoria Beckham dress. Simple, elegant, mature — the perfect counterpoint to Little J.
— Judy Berman
Photo: Jenny Humphrey makes amends with Tim Gunn. Credit: Giovanni Rufino/The CW.