Season 3 Refresher: Vanessa Abrams

One week until new Gossip Girl! My countdown week of refresher posts continues. Yesterday we covered Dan; today we move on to the current object of his affection: Ms. Vanessa Abrams.

“Reversals of Fortune”: Sporting some misguided dreads, Vanessa is getting to know nice-guy Scott — but doesn’t know that Scott is Dan’s half-brother. Secret! She’s gets hella pissed at Dan for lying to her and, after showing up to the polo match to make peace, only ends up feeling more frustrated with him. But good news in the romance department: she and Scott have their first smooch.

“The Freshmen”: Landing in the same dorm as Blair and Georgina (“Awesome.”), Vanessa fits in at NYU — people want to watch her doc about community gardening! She makes up with Dan, and gives Georgina a second chance. Scott weirds her out by his sketchy replies about professors (hmm… maybe he hasn’t actually taken classes at NYU?) but his vague “I was freaked out” answer assuages her worries.

“The Lost Boy”: Vanessa uses her keen detective skills on Scott when he makes another NYU-factoid blunder. (Really, how hard is it to check the class schedule?) In typical Vanessa fashion, she gives Scott a chance to tell her the truth, and he does, asking her not to tell Dan or the Humphreys that he is Rufus and Lily’s love child. Conflicted but understanding that ain’t her info to dish, Vanessa agrees but encourages him to tell Rufus stat. At the auction, after a chat with Mrs. Rossum, Scott decides to maintain his mother’s lie and pretends to be the love child’s brother. Saying goodbye to Scott, V is tearful but will keep mum — but neither Scott nor Vanessa know that wily Georgina is standing outside the door. Gulp. (Srsly people, close your door when you’re talking about top-security-level secrets, k?)

“Dan de Fleurette”: Vanessa gets a roommate! And she’s a movie star! Turns out Ms. Documentary Filmmaker Abrams is srsly into the Gossipverse’s version of Twilight. Love it. She brings Dan to the premiere, not realizing that he’s already met Olivia as Kate. Vanessa and Olivia hit it off right away, having roomie heart-to-hearts. Aw. At the end of the ep, feeling lonely, V calls Scott who doesn’t have time to talk . . . ’cause he has to go meet his pal Georgina for coffee.

“Rufus Getting Married”: Vanessa gets the Georgina Scheming Treatment when G returns to NYC and learns that Dan has moved on to Olivia. Vanessa calls G a “full-on crazy person.” G blackmails V into some comedic moments as V tries to convince Dan not to date Olivia anymore. Unable to lie convincingly, she caves when Dan tells her his theory that she’s in love with him. V tells him the truth about Georgie and Scott. And is so not in love with Dan.

V listens to the little devil on her shoulder

“Enough About Eve”: NYU hearts Vanessa, and she’s a contender to give the freshmen toast for all her do-goodery about campus. She calls her parents — the mysterious Gabriela and Arlo Abrams! — and her mom comes to see the speech (which Vanessa doesn’t know for sure she has) despite Gabriela’s disdain for private universities. V gets sucked into Blair’s scheming mode and lies to Dan and Olivia in a (failed) effort to get the freshmen toast. She’s antagonistic with her mother, continuously embarrassed by her hippie-dippy ways. Getting more desperate through the ep, she pulls a Blair Waldorf on Blair Waldorf, hiding the microphone in her purse to expose B as the elitist monarch-lover that she is. Whenever V schemes, she doesn’t like the end result and this time’s no exception: she humiliates B, is outed as a liar to D and V, doesn’t give the speech, and admits that she wishes the Humphreys were her family in front of her mother. Who is this place turning you into, asks Gabriela (in a moment that totally echoes Little J and her mom in the season 1 cotillion episode).

“How to Succeed in Bassness”: V’s off in Albany at her sister’s gig. (One day, can we please meet Ruby? Please?)

“The Grandfather, Part II”: Shooting a doc for the Van Der Bilt campaign, V is jazzed when her “Hudson Hero” footage is going to appear on the news. But when she sees that it was a set-up, she goes to Nate first to warn him. Rightly, V won’t cover up the footage — this ain’t high school, this is a congressional election. She does the honest, stand-up thing but Nate does the totally sneaky thing — tricking her into giving her footage to a fake newsperson. He also gets in a little dig at V, accusing her of only being interested in furthering her career by getting her name on the news. The truth comes out about the Hudson Hero scam, but the fall-out includes even greater distance between former besties and lovers Nate and Vanessa. : (

“They Shoot Humphreys, Don’t They”: Vanessa tags along on the Day of Fun with Olivia and Dan as they try to convince the movie star to stay at NYU. Best way to do that is obviously a threesome.

“Last Days of Discostick”: Or as I like to call this episode, “Awkward Island.” D’s awkward with V. O’s awkward with V. Vanessa tries to make sure things are cool post-OM3 but they ain’t. Vanessa gets about as catty as we’ve seen her after Olivia cancels V and D’s Morrissey concert plans, trying to box her out. When Olivia ditches mid-Snow White/Lady Gaga play, V steps into her role and Dan gives her an onstage smooch so powerful for him, he flashes back to their magical sexy times. But Vanessa isn’t into Dan like that; she has eyes for Tisch theater dude Paul Hoffman.

“Treasure of Serena Madre”: V’s fighting with her mother again on Thanksgiving, so she takes refuge with Dan at the loft where he keeps staring at her like a crazy person. (Like a person crazy in love, V!) After they fight at the VDW dinner, Dan gets the Abrams women to realize they aren’t all that different (they both love bangles! they both love bold patterned clothes! they both love community gardens!). V makes peace with Gabriela (in an off-screen heart to heart) and tells Dan she likes his new facial expression . . . as she heads out the door to see Paul.

“The Debarted”: V doesn’t know it but as she’s getting involved with Paul, Dan is mooning over her. When they all end up at the hospital after Serena’s accident, she is caught off-guard by Dan’s “I love you” confession. She gives him the “emotionally stressful situations make people say things they don’t mean” excuse and takes off for some coffee. More awkwardness.

It’s been a big season so far for Vanessa. She certainly has way more screen-time devoted to her plot lines than, say, Jenny does. At NYU, she’s found (to quote a Taylor Swift song…) her place in this world — people there like her documentaries, her do-good spirit, and her. But V is still figuring out how to be a little bit selfish without being a bitch to people. Will Dan’s new affection for her reignite her historic feelings? I kinda hope so. Not that it was a competition, but Vanessa is officially the first Gossip Girl cast member to sleep with all of the hetero boys: Nate, Chuck, and Dan. She even made out with the Rufly love child for extra credit. (If Vanessa hooks up with Rufus in season 4, I . . . I don’t know what I’ll do.) Well done, Vanessa! A+!

In all seriousness, what I love is that Vanessa can sleep with whomever she pleases and she’s never considered slutty by the other characters and she doesn’t judge herself either. Her decisions to sleep with dudes (or Olivia) aren’t made because she has some emotional problem (a la Serena); she has sex because she wants to. She’s cool with herself, and that’s something you don’t see on TV too often — a mature, healthy attitude toward female sexuality. Well done, Gossip Girl! A+!


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