‘Gossip Girl’ finale: Did it redeem the flailing series?

The CW

Warning: This post contains spoilers.

On Monday night (Dec. 17), "Gossip Girl" fans were finally given the payoff. After years of waiting, decoding, and assuming, Gossip Girl was revealed to be none other than Dan "Lonely Boy" Humphrey (Penn Badgley). Meaning he nicknamed himself, and used "XOXO" on the regular. (Which, arguably, is payoff enough.)

But on top of the news that Dan stalked people in order to infiltrate their ranks, become entangled in their drama, and tell their secrets through an intricate text-based system -- all while posing online as a woman -- there was more. Chuck (Ed Westwick) and Blair (Leighton Meester) got married. Bart Bass' death was ruled an accident, ruling Chuck out as a suspect. Cameos by Jenny "Little J" Humphrey (Taylor Momsen), Eric Van der Woodsen (Connor Paolo), and Vanessa Abrams (Jessica Szohr) ensued. Lonely Boy and Serena (Blake Lively) tied the knot in a "five years later" flash forward. And arguably, it all was glorious.

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Well, the series finale was glorious for what it could be. After the show went off the rails following the first two seasons (how many times could Georgina come back to wreak havoc? Why was Blair marrying a prince? And don't let the door hit you on your way out, Little J), those who spent the rest emotionally invested in all six seasons of "Gossip Girl" narrative deserved a reward. Arguably, so did the fair-weather fans who watched "Gossip Girl" religiously from 2007 through to 2009 and then gave up -- sure, they didn't stick around, but they helped establish the show as must-see TV during its start-up years. Some (this writer included) may have condemned "Gossip Girl" in its later seasons, but if not for the original die-hards, "Gossip Girl" wouldn't have gotten its running start.

The finale rewarded everyone. Had you not been up-to-date with the current "Gossip Girl" landscape, you still could have watched the five last minutes and walked away satisfied, knowing that life in the upper east side was tied up in a neat little package. True, Serena and Dan got married in a foyer of a house in front of eight people -- including Lisa Loeb (?!) -- and Nate was running for mayor, but there was closure to plenty of long-running story lines. Everyone was happy! The tears, tragedy, and stress had not been in vain, and the makeups and breakups between Blair, Chuck, Serena, and Dan only added up to a blissful end. What more do you want?

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"Gossip Girl" has never been heralded as a critical darling, and has courted a younger, teen demographic since its inception. Its viewership may have grown up, but their expectations for the show didn't change. If the series finale had given way to existential revelations and obscure philosophical offerings, it wouldn't be "Gossip Girl." It'd be an Emmy-nominated series that focused on why this group of teens-turned-20-somethings made such questionable moral decisions, as opposed to what they were wearing while doing so. "Gossip Girl" set up a finale like this from the very first episode, and they delivered what they promised. Romance blossomed, and rivalries were forgiven.

It's not real life. It's "Gossip Girl." XOXO.