Evaluating The Relative Career Prospects Of The Gossip Girl Kids

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The final season of Gossip Girl begins tonight, and you know what that means: time for the cast to get their ducks in a row so they do not look back on this millennial melodrama about wealthy teenagers as the high point of their careers. But like the spawn of the majestic sea turtle, not all of these bushy-tailed babes can survive into adulthood to become Serious Actors. Who will reach the warm narrows of the silver screen, and who will founder on the rocky shoals of made-for-TV movies? Let's discuss. (I've arranged them from “most likely to succeed” to “outlook not good.”)

Penn Badgley

Despite his initial reluctance to submit to Gossip Girl‘s entreaties, this thoughtful thespian was always the perfect choice to play Dan Humphrey: on the show, he is awkward yet charming, stammering yet chiseled, sensitive yet still kind of a dick. He might have the best career prospects of the group, with a high profile role as the late Jeff Buckley in the imminent Greetings From Tim Buckley, but the trailer also demonstrates how hard it's going to be for him to de-Humphrey himself; as different from Gossip Girl as it looks, I still can't shake the feeling that it's actually about Dan finally following in Rufus' footsteps.

Leighton Meester

Maybe it's wishful thinking to rank her so high, but I have nothing but the utmost respect for Ms. Meester's acting abilities. She came up from a shady background to play one of the best characters ever conceived for young adult television. Think about how loathsome Blair Waldorf could have been, had she fallen into the wrong hands!

I was a little worried about Leighton's prospects when I saw her take cheesy roles in flops like Country Strong and The Roommate, but I hear she did a great job in indie black comedy The Oranges, so hopefully that's where her career is headed. Her dance music project and questionable wardrobe decisions can be embarrassing at times, but they help de-Blair her so maybe they're okay. (Plus, it's always nice to see a hot actress being super dorky.) As long as she stays away from Wilmer Valderrama in the future, she should be okay.

Blake Lively

A professional actress since the age of 11, Blake Lively had a reputation as a bankable young face before this, and Gossip Girl was a decent way to transition her into adulthood. We've seen the girl from The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants show various parts of her boobs and make whoopie onscreen so many times that it's now hard to imagine a time when she wasn't sexually mature. That said, I'm not sure if playing a dim bulb of a bombshell for six years has prepared her to obtain the weightiest of roles, and she herself has said that Gossip Girl hasn't always been “her best quality” of work. But she should at least get to play sexy blondes in mainstream fare like The Green Lantern and pulpy exploitation films like Hick and Savages for as long as is medically possible.

Ed Westwick

Ed Westwick is so cool, you guys. He's in a band that sounds like Babyshambles (or at least he was), he's an Englishman with good style, and he's great at doing that pensive whispery voice that makes you feel for a child gazillionaire. “I'm Chuck Bass” is one of the show's signature catchphrases. He had a promising supporting role in J. Edgar, which rubbed some of its Oscar bait sparkle off on him, and he's playing Tybalt in an upcoming Romeo and Juliet movie. He might not attain Blake's commercial success, but he'll always be a winner to me.

Chace Crawford

It would be easy to write off the annoyingly named Chace Crawford as a walking haircut, and one mightn't be wrong; with his swishy man bangs, boyish stubble beard, and baby blues a person could drown in, he's basically a beautiful but shallow set dressing, not unlike a Tiffany candy dish. But can this adorable man-boy act? He's only been typecast in cinematic dreck like Twelve and What To Expect When You're Expecting, so we don't technically know. (But I'm leaning towards no?) That said, nobody this handsome and famous ever fails out of Hollywood once they've got name recognition, so I suspect he'll keep taking home Teen Choice Awards for many years to come. If all else fails, he can always revive public interest by making like Lance Bass and coming out on the cover of People.

Jessica Szohr

It's hard to see under all those loud ensembles, but Jessica Szohr is one of the most beautiful bright young things to grace this crappy show. Unfortunately, because TV is racist, she was cast as Vanessa, the annoying, earthy hippie-ster who serves to make whiny straw man counter-arguments against the 1%'s values and conveniently overhear things and sleep with people to move the plot along. She's appeared as “the hot chick” in such horror flicks as Love Bite and I Don't Know How She Does It, but she's got some serious work to do if she wants to overcome the seething hatred people misdirect at her because they conflate her with Vanessa. God speed, my little bird.

Taylor Momsen

The artist formerly known as Cindy Lou Who has earned herself a reputation for being a difficult little tantrum of a person to work with, and she was written off the show's final seasons. Her acting prospects do not look good, but that's okay, because she hates acting. When you consider she's been forced to perform like a trained monkey since before she knew what the fuck was going on, this behavior becomes more understandable. She's now channeling her child actor rage into rolling around in Hot Topic corsets making growly '90s alt rock with her band of hired guns The Pretty Reckless, and should have a decent career ahead of her playing what has accurately been described as “the kind of cheesy hard rock riffs Slash always has playing in his head,” because teenagers will never stop having bad taste. Go forth and show your little boobs, Taylor. Express yourself.

Photo: People

Individual Photos: Patricia Schlein, Dan Jackman, FayesVision/WENN.com