Question: I'm not even going to attempt to argue with Julie H.'s recent statement that drugs, alcohol and sex play a part in most high school experiences, considering that none of those things had to do with mine (and I'm 23), but I do want to address the somewhat roller-coaster trend of these teen dramas. I personally loved The O.C., so when I heard about Gossip Girl, I thought it would be a comparable replacement. When I watched the premiere, I (and after reading reviews, it seems that I am the only one) was severely disappointed. It was boring, predictable, at times unbelievable and insulting. After a benchmark-in-the-teen-drama-sector show like The O.C., and after failed attempt after failed attempt at remaking it (Life As We Know It, Summerland, Hidden Palms), what can these shows do to surprise us? I realize that a show about a bunch of poor kids with parents who love them would probably not even show at upfronts, but can't we move in that "normal" direction?
Answer: Stephanie, do I have a show for you. Its name is Friday Night Lights. It features the most real teens on TV probably ever, and that's even compared to My So-called Life. It should have just enough soap opera, even humor, to satisfy you, and you might actually be moved by it. And the performances from young and old are off the charts. Your reaction to Gossip Girl makes me think you may have inadvertently graduated from the teen-drama genre, which is only natural in a TV viewer's life. I look at Gossip Girl as a progression of the WB-style teen soap from Dawson's Creek and Felicity to this undoubtedly over-the-top guilty-pleasure portrayal of children of privilege living large in Manhattan. Unlike some of the flops you mention, what gives me hope about Gossip Girl and why I'm still watching is that it knows it's ridiculous and revels in it. Being predictable and unbelievable comes with the territory, although "boring" and "insulting" is clearly a matter of personal taste.

For balance, here's a much more positive reaction from Ian: "My favorite new show, hands down, is Gossip Girl. What a fantastical prime-time soap opera! I think I may like this more than The O.C. (though I loved how self-deprecating that was). I totally get sucked into the world of these spoiled brats and cringe at the idea of having to return to reality after the hour is up. Does it look like the CW will keep this great show around?"

The answer to Ian's question: It's not doing great. The CW (almost typed WB, force of habit) seems to be off to a slow start this fall, although Gossip Girl does appear to be hitting the network's most narrow target audience of teen girls. It should be doing better, as shows like this tend to have a somewhat broader appeal. Having a heavily female-skewing show like Private Practice opposite it probably doesn't help. But I'd expect the CW to exercise plenty of patience toward this and its other new shows, most of which have been critically well received, which may count for something at least in the short term.