When it comes to Gossip Girl, the television show, creators Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage have politely given Cecily von Ziegesar's original books series the (jeweled and manicured) middle finger. Beyond the pilot episode, the only similarities between the show and books seem to be the title and some happy coincidences in plot.
Some viewers are curious about how the show compares to the books, but then again, some viewers don't even know the books exist (and they call themselves fans? For shame!). Either way, here's some enlightenment.Chuck Bass
Ed Westwick's swoon-worthy portrayal of Chuck Bass is vastly different from Chuck Bass in the book series. In print, Chuck is a peripheral character (how dare they!) and is universally hated by the others--even Nate. In fact, the characters in the book series only tolerate him because of his family's wealth. Can we take a moment and mourn for the book's lack of a Nate/Chuck bromance? No one does besties like these two.
Book Chuck is bisexual, and engages in salacious flings with both guys and girls. Shockingly, the only person to turn Chuck into a monogamous man isn't Blair Waldorf, but Greg, a student he dates near the end of the book series. Get this: the books reveal that before Chuck, Greg had a fling with a then-experimenting Dan Humphrey. OMFG!
And the best thing about the bad boy in the books? Chuck has a monkey named Sweetie that he carries with him everywhere. Ha! We can't quite picture small-screen Chuck scheming, mourning over the death of his father, and saying those three little words to Blair...with a monkey perched on his shoulder. Maybe it's a good thing the creators let this small detail pass. In a Battle Royale of GG's best accessories, we're not sure Blair's headband could hack it against a portable primate.
Believe it or not, Dan's an even lonelier boy in print. He's unshaven, shaggy-haired, and kind of nerdy. He's got a sense of awkwardness that even actor Penn Badgely couldn't make endearing. Instead, Book Dan carries on with the overblown fantasies he's harbored about Serena since his thirteenth birthday party, where he creepily watched her play drinking games through an open doorway. Hot. He also drinks lots of black coffee and writes deep, dark poetry that he occasionally leaves in Serena's locker. Check this Dan original: "Nothing hurt until you pushed me, hard, and I fell. It's bleeding. I'm bleeding." We're sure Serena loved that one.
When Book Dan isn't busy acting like the second coming of Robert Smith, he finds time to carry on other relationships. He falls for BFF Vanessa Abrams (sound familiar?), then cheats on her with a yellow-toothed writer named Mystery and then a leggy blonde named Bree! His last breakup with V leads to some sort of sexuality crisis: after kissing a guy at work, he thinks he's gay (insert eye roll). Book Dan goes on to date fellow nerd Greg, who eventually leaves the lonely boy for Chuck Bass (Burn!). After playing for the other team, Dan realizes that he's not gay after all, and is just another confused teen. We're sure he wrote a poem about that one, too.
The books give us the super challenging task of finding an outrageously busty, curly-haired fifteen year old. Let's just hand Taylor a wig and a wonderbra.
Sadly, had Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage actually followed the books, they wouldn't have cast Taylor Momsen. TV Jenny is literally unrecognizable from her literary counterpart. Book Jenny is short, curly-haired, and has a ginormous chest. Say good-bye to our favorite tall, blonde, waif-like Brooklynite.
Turns out Book Jenny is even creepier than her older brother, idolizing Serena to the point of being accused of "humping" her. She has Serena's class schedule memorized and spends her school days following the socialite around and eavesdropping in on S's conversations. Book Jenny takes the weekend off to chill at the computer and troll the internet for new pictures of Serena. All perfectly normal teenage hobbies.
While on the television show Jenny rebelliously takes on the Constance Billard monarchy, in the books she remains dedicated in her bid to become popular. Book Jenny also never quite attains Queen Bee status. The closest she ever gets is by dating Nate Archibald, which is more than the passionate-kiss-turned-nothing we got on the television show. Book Jenny's adventures continue in Cecily Von Ziegesar's spinoff The It Girl.
Vanessa is another character that would require a complete re-cast--unless Jessica Szohr is willing to gain a few pounds and go bald. In the books, Vanessa rocks a shaved head, wears all black, and is slightly overweight. Sure, it's a shock, but we'd honestly prefer this to the starter dreads and vomit-inducing boho style she's got on the show.
Book Vanessa loves making dark films (which we're sure really compliment Dan's dark poetry!), and spends most of her time shooting people and objects with her video camera (you only see a little of this on the TV show). She actually attends Constance Billard with other female characters from the book series, but remains the sullen outsider. Later on, Book Vanessa actually befriends Blair Walfdorf and they become roommates. She learns a lot from their time together and becomes more open to the Upper East Side way of life. She even adapts some of Blair's fashion sense! (Ahem, we really hope the show's writers are reading this and taking notes.)
Aside from this, Book Vanessa continues to fawn over Dan Humphrey and briefly dates Aaron Rose. Gossip Girl fans seem to prefer Book Vanessa to TV Vanessa, which makes sense. Vanessa actually sounds kind of cool in the books versus the self-righteous, obnoxious, and fashion-challenged character we love to hate on every Monday night.
Unfortunately, Rufus is not such a DILF in the books. You won't find an aging (but still sexy) rockstar between those pages. Nope. In the books we get Rufus in a sweat-stained undershirt with matted gray hair (that he keeps in a ponytail, natch) and a scraggly beard. Classy.
In print, Rufus stays a minor character. The retired editor of beat poets won't be seen canoodling with socialite Lily van der Woodsen or searching for a missing love child--which is almost as tragic as his haggard physical appearance.
Final Words: Differences between books and show aside, one thing remains constant--Gossip Girl. These Upper East Siders are mercilessly hounded by the snappy blogger in print and on screen. And where would we all be without her snark?Though the books were endlessly entertaining, we prefer the television show. The drama and the plot twists are even more addictive than those in the books, and the show gives us a couple of things a book can't--an insanely good-looking cast and UES fashions sprung to life.