The Times' Alessandra Stanley weighs in on the frightening phenomenon: "'Gossip Girl' goes further than most shows in depicting the excesses of the rich and under-age (in this fantasy teenagers are never carded), but most of all it represents the next evolutionary stage of girl power television after 'Sex and the City.' That pioneering HBO series, and the movie version that comes out later this month, celebrates girlish women who joined forces - 'Us against the world'- in the pursuit of success and happiness."

"'Gossip Girl' focuses on worldly little girls who join forces against one another. The series, along with such like-minded shows as the MTV semireality show 'The Hills' and a cautionary senior edition, 'The Real Housewives of New York City,' are focused on friends, and most of all on frenemies. They are so postfemininist that they circle back not just to 'Mean Girls,' but to the pre-Friedan era of Clare Boothe Luce and Rona Jaffe.

"There is even a nod to Edith Wharton. Serena's mother is named Lily, and she is engaged to a billionaire named Bart, a sly reference to Lily Bart, the heroine of 'The House of Mirth,' who is socially ruined by, among others, her manipulative BFF Bertha Dorset." [NYT]