I was watching Gossip Girl last night and trying to figure out why, even though I like the TV version, it bothered me. It's not the glitzy lifestyle, and the constant references to clothes or the teenage sex. No, what bothered me and what I liked about the series was the variety in the characters, which has sadly been homogenized into pretty people doing bad things.
In the Gossip Girl book series the Humphrey's lived on the Upper West Side on West End Avenue in a rambling rent controlled apartment that had seen better days. Dad was a middle-aged hippie with a graying ponytail. Dan was intense and high strung, and Jenny was a short, busty curly haired brunette who didn't fit in no matter how hard she tried.
In the TV series, the Humphrey family aren't that different from the other families on this show. The dad Rufus, is much younger and hotter than in the books, a former rock star who once had a thing with Serena's mother. Jenny is a pretty blonde who wants to be a Blair clone and a fashion designer, and Dan is only slighly intense and high strung. They also live in a really cool loft in Brooklyn and Dad owns an art gallery.
Also in the books, Vanessa was practically bald, wore combat boots and was a budding film-maker who pretty much lived by herself in Greenpoint while her sister was off with her rock band (imagine Sinead O'Connor in high school). She and Dan have an intense relationship which he keeps screwing up by going off with other women. The Vanessa in the series is a pretty brunette who works for Rufus and who spent the entire summer putting in a coffee bar in his art gallery.
There's no real sense of the class distinctions between the characters anymore, that Vanessa, Dan and Jenny were really different from Blair, Chuck, Serena and Nate. Now everyone seems pretty much the same. Pretty people with problems. In the series Serena and Chuck are now step-brother and sister, whereas in the book Blair's mother is the one who remarries and her husband's son is a crunchy granola guy Aaron who was a vegan and was the total opposite of Blair.
Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the series, I think it's fun and light and fluffy but I miss the complexity of the books. But hey the books still live on the shelves and will probably continue to do so as the TV show goes on, so I can always dip back in when I feel the urge.