Gossip Girl literally opens right off the bat with two attempted rapes by Mr. Chuck Bass. And now the character who played him, Ed Westwick, is facing the exact same charges.
In episode one, Chuck Bass tries to rape Blake Lively‘s character Serena in a kitchen, as she tries to push him off and asks him over and over again to stop. She finally does shove him off and is able to escape him. This scene isn’t ever talked about afterward, and Chuck and Serena end the series as the best of friends who’ve been through so much together!
And then later in that same episode, Chuck corners a very young Jenny Humphrey on a rooftop and kisses her, trying to have sex with her, as she repeatedly tells him to get off her. But Dan bursts through the door to save his sister just in time!
Great storyline for the first episode of a new series about young teens, introducing a character who will soon become a sex symbol and fawned over by teen girls for six years.
And girls loved Chuck Bass. They loved him, and they loved Chuck and Blair.
The fact that at the very beginning of this show, a character attempted rape twice and faced no true repercussions is…not great. And the fact that majority of Gossip Girl‘s viewers were teen girls who might not have been educated on consent and sexual assault is also…not great.
Chuck’s character was supposed to be an asshole at first, that was obvious, but by the end of it all, we were supposed to excuse his flaws and his dominant, sometimes violent, demeanor. And think he was super hot. And that his two attempted rapes in the first episode either didn’t happen or are perfectly excusable because he’s Chuck Bass!
Now, the Gossip Girl producers, who completely breezed over Chuck’s actions and used rape as a casual plot device, are reading two accounts from actresses detailing their similar, heartbreaking experiences of Ed Westwick raping them.
Westwick’s character was never confronted with consequences of his attempted rapes. I don’t know if his character’s actions have anything to do with his own, or if Westwick even remembers those scenes he shot almost ten years ago, but the normalization of rape on television and the normalization of rape in real life have a line between them that, for years, we’ve seen grow blurrier and blurrier.
Westwick could face consequences, though, as the LAPD is officially investigating actress Kristina Cohen’s rape accusation against him. Time will tell.
Anne Catherine Demere is an intern with Femestella. She is almost too passionate about pop culture and the entertainment industry and she loves to write about it. One of her favorite things is when feminism and pop culture overlap. She’s either starting a new TV show or in class, there’s no in between. And those two rarely coincide.