Okay, so recently my old all girls prep school in toronto, from which I graduated high school way back in 2004, has been compared to Constance, the fictitious prep school on Gossip Girl in Toronto Life Magazine. To which I say, duh! I noticed that similarity the first frickin' time I watched theshow. First off, the uniform is EXACTLY THE same. Secondly, it's about wealthy kids who live in a big urban centre in North America. Thirdly, it deals with many of the same issues I dealt with as a teen at such a school, just in an exaggerated way. For example, Gossip Girl thoughtfully addresses how upper-middle-class kids at elite prep schools can feel othered and out of place when their parents are wealthy enough to send them there, but not wealthy enough to give them $200 a day for brunch at the Ritz (a la Jenny's money woes in Season 1). Other issues, like parental neglect - and even the same of having your father carted off to jail as a white collar criminal - are all things dealt with by my peers. The show is like what my life was at 17.
Given all of these obvious similarities, I was shocked to find that when Toronto Life FINALLY compared Branksome Hall to Gossip Girl, that my old principal, Karen Murton, was mad! She insisted that the girl used in the Toronto Life column in a defiled Branksome Hall uniform was not a real Branksome girl, as though we should have been ashamed if she had been! Honestly, I don't care if she was a real Branksome girl, her illegal hair accessories and tights made it so she EASILY could have been one. Don't tell me branksome girls never defile their uniforms and the implication that they do is libelous - I was the best behaved girl in the history of Branksome, never handing in one assignment late or receiving a single detention, and even I defiled my uniform from time to time by wearing contraband clear nail polish!(which, by the way, why the hell was that not allowed. It was frickin' transparent, after all?).
The kids on Gossip Girl drink, have sex, and study really, really hard. All things we did at Branksome at their age. It was an excellent school. I learned more during my six years there than I have in the 5 years of university education since, but let's not pretend Branksome girls are the only teenagers in Toronto who never drink before formals or have sex. So what if they do? That just makes them normal teenagers. Several of the girls I went to school with managed to fit these normal rights of passage into their busy schedules of doing well enough in school to go to schools like Queen's, McGill, Harvard, Princeton and St. Andrew's, while doing amazing things like winning the women's National Rowing Championships or coming in the top ten at the World Individual Debating and Public Speaking Championship.
Yeah, so, at branksome, one of the things I love about the school was how we got to be normal teenagers and learn all about Freud's impact on Modern Western thought, just like the incredibly articulate kids on Gossip Girl who are so worldly I'd be happy to be compared to them any day. I mean, the show has more historical and high-brow literary references than you typically see on PBS. These are the smartest teenage television characters since Dawson's Creek, so if Branksome Hall's administration is offended by being compared to Constance, they should really just get over it. I think it's flattering. They might as well just take it as a compliment, because, at the end of the day, the comparison is definitely true!