It was the ultimate guilty pleasure. A frothy soufflé about the lives and loves of privileged teens on Manhattan's Upper East Side, which you knew you shouldn't watch but somehow could never quite switch off. Sadly all teen dramas, even those hailed (only half-jokingly) by New York Magazine as "The Greatest Show of Our Time", come to an end, and thus tomorrow night sees the final episode of Gossip Girl after six seasons of betrayal, brooding and bitchiness.
Will tormented trust-funder Chuck marry neurotic queen bee Blair? And if he does, will their honeymoon be spent in a limo but on the lam following the death of Chuck's hated father Bart? Can golden girl Serena, a cut-price Daisy Buchanan with a fondness for reinvention, find solace in Hollywood – or will she settle instead for a lifetime of waffles and angst in Brooklyn with aspiring novelist Dan?
What of Dan's sister Jenny, she of the raccoon-eyes and permanently laddered tights? And Eric, Serena's little brother, the only well-adjusted member of the gang? Will the exiled Vanessa return for one more self-righteous rant about the horrors of Manhattan versus the wonders of Brooklyn? Will Lily and Rufus ever mention their briefly glimpsed love child again? Most importantly, just who is Gossip Girl – and will Chuck's best friend, the lovely if laid-back Nate Archibald, locate what passes for his brain long enough to expose her?
While old fans will tune in one last time to uncover the answers, Gossip Girl's demise is no surprise. The show has fallen a long way from its glory days, when a combination of acerbic wit and high fashion made its young cast the toast of New York, earning them a Rolling Stone cover in the process. In part, that's due to the graduation curse – all teen shows fall apart once the characters move from high school towards adulthood – although it didn't help that the writers seemed determined to pile twist upon twist (Chuck's mother is dead, she's alive, she's Elizabeth Hurley… or is she?) even as the dialogue slipped from knowingly sending-up soap operas to simply sounding like a bad example of the genre.
With the end in sight, the post-Gossip Girl jostling has begun as the cast wait to discover who will become their generation's Michelle Williams (from Dawson's Creek to Oscar bait) and who'll pull the Ian Ziering short straw and end up as the answer to a trivia question in a midweek pub quiz (Steve Sanders in Beverly Hills 90210, if you're wondering).
The frontrunner is Blake Lively (Serena) thanks to a string of fashion endorsements, prominent parts in darker fare such as The Town and Savages and a high-profile marriage to Hollywood beefcake Ryan Reynolds. Leighton Meester (Blair) has yet to match that level of success, but an eye-catching turn in the Hugh Laurie comedy The Oranges could change things. As for Taylor Momsen (Jenny), the child star-turned-rock singer, 14 when the first series was filmed, recently made headlines thanks to a one-minute video clip featuring her naked and reciting her latest lyrics.
Of the boys, Penn Badgley, who played the sensitive Dan, has chosen the James Van Der Beek path of indie redemption and will next be seen playing troubled singer Jeff Buckley; the likeable Chace Crawford (Nate) popped up as eye-candy in a couple of rom-coms; and British actor Ed Westwick (Chuck) gets another chance to smoulder-with-menace as Tybalt in the latest Romeo and Juliet.
Who knows if any of them will make the transition from teen star to serious contender, but tomorrow night I'll settle down for one final fling with the "non-judging Breakfast Club" as Blair memorably labelled them. After all, as Gossip Girl's famous sign-off almost had it: "You know you loved them. XOXO."
The final episode of 'Gossip Girl' is on Wednesday at 7pm on ITV2