Every TV-watching woman has a teen drama that was released around the same time they were in high school and therefore, somewhat informed their teenage experience.
And if you’re a child of the early 90s there’s a good chance yours, like mine, was Gossip Girl.
Which may or may not be a good thing, come to think of it. There were a lot of questionable messages that came from the series’ characters – along with some scarily true-to-life ones. Now that I’m rewatching the series on Netflix (yes, if you didn’t know, every episode is there) I’m reminded of some of the lessons I learned about high school from Gossip Girl.
1. Don't ditch the toxic friend in your life
While there were plenty of times S and B were friendship goals, for at least the first few years there was also an undercurrent of competitiveness. Blair felt her Queen Bee title was threatened by Serena - especially when she found out she'd slept with her boyfriend - but instead of cutting her off, she kept her 'frenemy' close.
Throughout their friendship, the besties do things to each other than most real-life friendships wouldn't come back from (like more ex-boyfriend sex) - and yet by the end of the series, years after high school, Serena van der Woodsen and Blair Waldorf were as close as ever.
2. School uniforms can be fashionable
My school uniform was pretty decent as school uniforms go - blue dresses, purple jumpers and hoodies, grey skirts that could be hemmed (and hitched) up. But when I look at what Blair, Serena and Little J got to wear to school, I realise I was totally gibbed.
I mean, we were able to hem our skirts, but at Constance Billard School for Girls you could modify your uniform anyway you saw fit, it seems. Non-uniform accessories like cardigans, coloured stockings and socks were also totally acceptable.
Oh, and stilettos. Of course.
Of all the unrealistic things that happened in the show, an exclusive private high school being this lax about uniforms is number one. (Well, actually, it was probably that time Bart Bass came back from the dead.)
3. You should probably date everyone in your friendship circle
I also learned that you shouldn't let one bad experience stop you from dating everyone you know at one point or another. In case you forgot the (sometimes literal) incestuous nature of the show's various romantic story lines, let me take you back.
Blair dated Nate Archibald, then Chuck Bass, then Dan Humphrey, then Chuck again (who also managed to sleep with Dan's little sister Jenny). Serena dated Dan, then Nate, then Dan again. Nate dated Blair, Serena and Vanessa Abrams. And Dan dated Serena, then Vanessa, then Blair, then Serena again. Of course, there were some other love interests thrown in - Marcus, Prince Louis, Georgina Sparks to name a few - but most of the plot lines involved the same five characters.
So if you are friends with someone of the opposite sex, who you aren't blood-related to, you will probably end up sleeping with them at some point.
4. If you're into your mum's ex's son, things will get weird at some point
And while you're shagging everyone in your friendship circle, you might just end up with the awkward predicament Dan and Serena found themselves in.
I learned that if your mum and your love interest's dad share some history - and one or both of them are single - I should be prepared for the fact that one day, I may be dating my step-sibling. Which should be enough to quash any crush.
5. That shy guy who has a crush on you might be tormenting you online
*****If you've only just been introduced to Gossip Girl via Netflix beware, what follows is a massive SPOILER. And by spoiler - I mean, the identity of Gossip Girl...*****
In real life, if you're one of the most popular girls at school, one (or more) awkward, shy guys will have a crush on you. Understandably, most of us would write off these - let's call them geeks - as harmless. What Gossip Girl taught me, however, is to be wary or at least suspicious of these boys. Because they could just be cataloguing your every move online for the whole world to read and in the process, more than once, committing some serious acts of cyber-bullying.
Listen: The Binge co-host Laura Brodnik has noticed a problem with teen shows. (Post continues...)
Yes, it all works out perfectly for Serena and Dan. They become friends, fall in love, get married and in the process overcame what was - I can only assume - the huge relationship hurdle of Dan practically tormenting Serena and her friends for six years. So maybe I should just cut to the chase and ask that shy guy out myself?
6. Friends aren't enough, you need minions
If Blair and Serena had the best-friendship we also aspired to (minus the boyfriend stealing) then we still had one thing missing from our lives: minions. Whether it was securing a place on the steps, fetching frozen yoghurt or helping you with evil schemes, minions saved Blair time and were always on hand to provide an ego-boost. What more could a girl want?
But seriously, Blair's interchangeable lackeys - who she actually called minions to their faces - were an extreme version of the power structures that form within cliques in high schools around the globe.
7. Threesomes with a friend are never a good idea
I don't know if I ever thought this one was a good idea - but after watching the episode when Dan and his then-girlfriend Olivia (played by Hillary Duff) have sex with Dan's friend Vanessa - I learned having a threesome with your friend is never going to end well.
(Technically, this is a life lesson - or at least a lesson for college-aged students, because that's when it happened in the show - but look, it's a valuable lesson nonetheless.)