The American teen drama Gossip Girl is a television series created by Stephanie Savage and Josh Schwartz based on the series of books Cecily von Ziegesar wrote. It contains six seasons originally running for “The CW” premiering from September 19, 2007, to December 17, 2012, and is now available for showing on Netflix. Each episode runs about forty-two minutes long and is told by an omniscient narrator, voiced by Kristen Bell, who blogs under the pseudonym “Gossip Girl.” The plot consumes the fictional lives of Manhattan’s privileged adolescents and their romantic entanglements with various antagonists being rotated in and out. Screenwriter Joshua Safran develops Serena van der Woodsen, also known as the “it girl”, and Blair Waldorf, or “queen bee”, from childhood best friends at Constance Saint Jude prep school to stunning socialites who occasionally engage in reconciliations as their secrets trigger rivalries. The story also follows the Brooklyn aspiring writer and scholarship student Daniel Humphrey, or “lonely boy”; the “bad boy” womanizing arrogant heir of Manhattan’s elite Chuck Bass; and the Vanderbilt descendant and most qualified bachelor Nate Archibald. The supporting actors in the turbulent scenes of Manhattan are Vanessa Abrams, Daniel’s friend from childhood; Jenny Humphrey, Daniel’s rebellious sister; Rufus Humphrey, Daniel and Jenny’s father and former Lincoln Hawk rockstar; and Lily van der Woodsen, an heiress and Serena’s mother.
Viewers may be too distracted by the flashy, overpriced lives of New York’s Upper East side to detect the show’s following hidden concepts: stigma, role conflict, ascribed status, achieved status, and media framing. These sociological concepts are reinforced and selected in Gossip Girl to address specific portrayals of a stereotypes, social norms, and values. In today’s society having an illness is a stigma. One not only has to deal with the symptoms and treatment of the disease, but also the challenge of society’s prejudices that can result in the devaluation of the person. Moreover, stigmas may disqualify a person from full social acceptance.
In season one of Gossip Girl, viewers first meet Serena’s brother Eric van der Woodsen when Serena visits him at the Ostroff Treatment Center. Lily van der Woodsen locked Eric away in this mental institution because of his suicide attempt even though the doctors did not mandate his stay. Because of Lily’s fear of public accusations and disapproval of her parenting skills, she states that Eric is in Miami visiting his Aunt Carol.
Lily was concerned with the stigma that came along with Eric’s mental illness, because, unlike a physical illness, the public may perceive Eric as responsible and in control of his decision. Furthermore, society is more likely to degrade Eric rather than pity him.