Despite less-than-stellar ratings and only one season in the bank, the creators of the hormonally charged, red lipstick-laced Gossip Girl are already hard at work on putting together a spin-off. As THR reports, producers will use the original books’ It Girl series as a blueprint, in which the social-climbing, scandalous and date rape-prone Jenny Humphrey character (Taylor Momsen) is shipped off to boarding school to clean up her act — just as the show’s main character, Serena Van Woodsen, had been punished for bad girl behavior like sex with BFFs’ boyfriends and being an über-lush by spending a year in the supposedly rigid countryside enclaves north of Manhattan. As the producers spin their wheels hoping that GG network CW bites, we took a look back on the Boarding School For Bad Boys And Girls phenomenon on television to get a sense of how ridiculously and erroneously Hollywood writers have been depicting these New England pastures in the past:
Facts of Life, 1979-88: The Eastland School
With character names like Tootie, Blair and Sue Ann, a token Poor But Smart Black Student from the Bronx, and plot lines involving housemothers dishing out advice to sex-crazed pre-teens and spoiled kids from New York, NBC’s spin-off of Diff’rent Strokes actually portrayed life at boarding school as close to reality as we’ve seen on television. Especially considering the long-running show’s depiction of various characters’ adult lives in the final season: one ends up in New York banging a guy named Snake, and another is banging a “musician” named Rick. If boarding school teaches girls one thing, it’s that pansy pop-collared preppy boys do not a proper sex life make.
Zoey 101, 2005-present: Pacific Coast Academy
Possibly the most off-the-mark vision of boarding school ever portrayed on TV, the Juno Lynn Spears-starring, California-set Nickelodeon “comedy” gets it wrong in oh so many ways, and allow us to count just a few samples: boarding school girls do not have trashy highlights, boarding school boys do not wear muscle tees, boarding school kids pop Adderall and fly cocaine in using their dad’s private jet rather than sipping “energy drinks” for adrenaline, and most importantly, boarding school is not “funny.”
Breaker High, 1998-99: Breaker High
Oh dear. Falling somewhere in between Facts and Zoey, this UPN bomb took place on, yes, a cruise ship. What sounds like one idiotic producer's idea to use this format in order to implement exotic locales and the darndest things foreigners say is simply, just...no. But! In one episode, all the classmates get Hepatitis-A. This sounds right — STDs and illnesses both expertly faked or intentionally caused in order to skip class and sleep off hangovers at the infirmary is pretty rampant at the real deals. Plus, Ryan Gosling was in it! As a “missing member of the brat pack” who conned bitchy girls! Far too many of these exist from Andover to Exeter and every country club campus in between.