Rewatching Gossip Girl in my late twenties has been an experience, to say the least.
As soon as the show returned to Netflix I was ready to return to the world of Chuck Bass, Serena van der Woodsen, and Blair Waldorf. I wanted to switch off and embrace the world of Manhattan’s Upper Elite. I was ready for Blair and Chuck’s complicated ‘will they? won’t they?’ relationship. I couldn’t wait to swoon over their penthouse apartments and designer wardrobes, and the original Golden Retriever boy Nate Archibald.
And as amazing as the show is, some of the storylines have aged as well as milk. Like most shows from the early 2000s, Gossip Girl is full of moments that will make us cringe nowadays, but there are some storylines that are just completely out of this world (and not in a good way).
Now that I am older watching Gossip Girl my favourite character is actually Lily van der Woodsen
— Kat the Shortcake ? (@KamurochoKat) August 24, 2023
One storyline that stands out is when Serena and Eric’s dad lies about Lily’s cancer. I recently watched the episodes where William Baldwin guest stars as Dr. William van der Woodsen and felt so uncomfortable throughout the season. It wasn’t entertaining, or shocking, it was just disturbing.
If you’ve yet to enter the Gossip Girl world let me sum up the madness for you.
Serena and Eric’s estranged dad returns to New York after curing their mother Lily’s cancer. Lily did have cancer during the summer, but she was in recovery when she returned to New York. William wants to get his family back together and thinks the best way to do that is by lying about Lily’s cancer returning. William claims Lily’s cancer has come back and decides to stay in New York to treat his ex-wife.
William is the villain who gets away with the cruelest lies and still ends up with the Queen of the Upper East Side.
Lily is married to Rufus at this time, but William believes she belongs with him, despite the fact that he’s been drugging her and lying to her about having cancer. William starts poisoning Lily because he has fallen in love with her again and wants to break up her marriage to Rufus. William makes Lily sick enough for her to need him, but Jenny (Lily’s stepdaughter) grows suspicious when she finds Lily’s medication and realises it isn’t used for cancer treatment at all.
Chuck, Blair, Jenny, and co. quickly uncover William’s plan and tell Serena her father has been lying to them, but instead of turning him over to the police, Serena helps her dad escape New York.
This isn’t the last we see of William, and unfortunately, we never see him behind bars. The doctor returns throughout seasons five and six and even ends up with Lily in the Gossip Girl finale. How Lily could move past everything William did to her is beyond me. Not only did he lie to her about having cancer, but he also poisoned her and fathered her sister’s child. It’s one of those Gossip Girl storylines that will never make sense to me. William is the villain who gets away with the cruelest lies and still ends up with the Queen of the Upper East Side.
Lily van der Woodsen deserved better.
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