magazine featured the (scantily clad) cast of the show on its cover toward the end of the first season, proclaiming in its cover headline (only semi-tongue in cheek), “BEST. EVER.”At its core, though, while the fashion and music and Lively-ness of it all no doubt drew a large swath of viewers, the central, relatable dilemmas faced by the main characters—Blair and Serena, as well as Brooklyn “lonely boy” and eventual Serena boyfriend Dan Humphrey, ostentatious bad boy and Blair soul-mate Chuck Bass, and pinup prepster Nate Archibald—were what kept people tuning in.
“Phones get updated, but the inner life of teenagers, and the things that they struggle with, are pretty timeless, regardless of what device they’re on,” Schwartz said.
Meanwhile, a new television network, the CW, was simultaneously in the midst of a delicate birthing process.
Formed by the union of the WB and UPN, the new network—led by then President of Entertainment Dawn Ostroff—was searching for an identity.
And it was even more difficult for us, because we were going after a younger, more finicky audience.”It was a perfect storm: a buzzy property, a hot creative team, and a new network.Fourteen- to 20-year-olds still come up to me freaking out and it’s because they binge [the show] on Netflix.”) And in other countries, the show has come to represent the allure and glamour of New York.Nearly every cast member I spoke with—from Crawford to Wallace Shawn—reported that they, to this day, are regularly stopped by foreigners who recognize them from the show.The official green light was a mere formality: Schwartz and Savage were off to the races.There were two core figures at the center of the books—Blair Waldorf and Serena van der Woodsen—and casting them was at the top of Schwartz and Savage’s agenda.