I Think About This a Lot is a series dedicated to private memes: images, videos, and other random trivia we are doomed to play forever on loop in our minds.
Few things in pop culture will ever achieve the dramatic perfection of Gossip Girl’s first season, which was marked by elite prep schoolers’ machinations, blackmail, an embezzlement scandal, sex in limos, hotels-as-residences, headbands with giant bows, and — of course — one of the most unexpected plot twists in television history. It’s the last one that has haunted me incessantly since it first aired.
Some people will replay important times in their lives over and over in their minds: a sweet memory with their first love, a bit of wisdom passed down by their favorite grandmother. For me, it’s the moment in season one, episode 16, when you think Serena (Blake Lively) is about to tell Blair (Leighton Meester) about her sex tape but, instead, she suddenly admits: “I killed someone.” And then heavy music begins to play. End scene.
You see, Serena had a “secret” that prompted her to flee the Upper East Side for the safe confines of a boarding school in nearby Connecticut before the events of the first season began. We, the viewers, spend most of the season assuming that the secret is that Serena had sex with her best friend Blair’s boyfriend, Nate, on top of a bar during a wedding. But no — as we soon learn, that secret is actually just a normal thing that happened in Serena’s life, not the secret that prompted her departure. Then, we’re led to believe that Serena’s secret is that she made a sex tape with a different guy named Pete mere hours after hooking up with Nate. But, no! Turns out she thinks she killed Pete during their sex tape taping, and had gone on the run (to boarding school in Connecticut) because she thought she was a murderer. I know!!!
We learn in the next episode that Serena did not kill that guy. She did, however, pass him a tray of cocaine, of which he took a line and then promptly overdosed. As Pete convulsed on the fancy hotel bed, Serena diligently called 911 before she fled the scene, hopped on a train, and immediately went into hiding at boarding school — where no one but her parents, education officials, the government, and anyone using Google could find her.
Even though the actual murder never happened, the juicy moment of the confession has stuck with me. Awkward silence? My mind replays “I killed someone,” and then that ominous music — “U.R.A. Fever” by the Kills — follows. Bored while stuck on a stalled subway? “I killed someone.” Waiting at the hospital after I broke my ankle? “I killed someone.” Heavy music. Sitting in a meeting waiting for my turn to talk? “Killed someone.” Music. Repeat.
I feel like I need to clarify that I have no desire to kill anyone, and I don’t spend that much of my life, outside of this, thinking about murder. But, because this scene is just so over-the-top in a way you don’t really see on television much anymore, I’ve never been able to kick the memory of it. In that moment, all of the show’s viewers collectively understood what the Gossip Girl marketing team meant with those promotional “OMFG” posters. They promised “OMFG” and they delivered.
So that line continues to float around in the periphery of my brain, serving as a constant reminder that Gossip Girl was brilliantly dramatic, and that my life is infinitely more boring and financially poor in comparison. And also that drugs are bad.