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Hot gossip

XOXO! Gossip Girl, ITV2, 10.00pm

Gossip Girl"Hey Upper East (of the internet) Siders, lowculture here. Spotted: hot new US import making itself comfortable with the new neighbours on ITV2. Our spies say they saw her cosying up with new gal pal Bionic Woman, and we're just dying to know what C and her Real Women are making of it all. You know you love us. XOXO, lowculture."

Okay, fine, so we couldn't quite keep it up to write the entire entry in salacious gossip blog speak, but don't let that put you off: Gossip Girl is our new favourite show. (And yes, we're aware we say that on a regular basis, but we really mean it this time.) It's from the creators of The OC (who have apparently learned their lesson, since Mischa Barton is nowhere to be seen) and based on the teen novels by Cecily von Zeigesar, but this is all irrelevant background in relation to the fact that it is a soapy teen drama with possibly the hottest ensemble cast we've ever seen. Seriously, there is not a faulty gene anywhere on this show, and you could cut glass with the cheekbones. Someone give the casting director a medal. And what makes it all even more satisfying is that despite the occasional smell-the-fart moment from Chace Crawford (and please ignore his bad hair in the opening episode - it gets infinitely better in episode two, at which point he becomes so pretty you might actually cry), the acting is right on the money as well, especially Leighton Meester as queen bee Blair Waldorf.

In case you're wondering why you should care about any of this, here's the plot rundown: former wild child Serena van der Woodsen is spotted at Grand Central Station after fleeing without explanation some months hence, much to the delight of Nate Archibald, who's been nursing a crush on Serena since forever, but to the chagrin of Nate's girlfriend and Serena's former BFF Blair Waldorf. Meanwhile, Dan and Jenny Humphrey are meant to be impoverished even though you could fit the whole of lowculture towers into their kitchen, and Chuck Bass is the person of whom you see a picture if you look up the word "skeezy" in the dictionary, but is no less awesome for this. (He is possibly less awesome for his predilection for rape, mind.)

You may be wondering where the Gossip, and indeed the Girl, come in. That's the best part: since the lead characters are, for the most part, the ridiculously moneyed offspring of equally ridiculously moneyed socialites, they are minor celebrities in their own right, and their every move is chronicled by a catty blogger known only as Gossip Girl, never seen, but voiced to perfection by Veronica Mars's Kristen Bell. Seriously, we can't think of another actor who can put as much life into the signoff "XOXO" as she does.

What's refreshing about all this is that the characters are all surprisingly empathetic, despite being richer and prettier and all round generally better than us. Sure, we wanted to smack Dan with a brick for the first few episodes when he wouldn't shut up about the social injustice of being moderately less well-off than everyone else he knows, but he calms down eventually, and we predict future lowculture icon status for bitchy, needy, insecure Blair. And if you need any more reasons to tune in, the episode titles are all mini works of art in themselves, including such inspired puns as "The Wild Brunch", "Bad News Blair" and our personal favourite, "Hi, Society!"

You know you love us. XOXO.

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According to Marxist theory, cultural forms such as opera, classical music and the literary works of Shakespeare all fall under the heading of high culture. Low culture refers to a wide variety of cultural themes that are characterised by their consumption by the masses. We might not be Marxists, but we do know we loved Footballers Wives. If you do too, you'll know what this is all about.

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