The “Gossip Girl” gang took the Teen Choice Awards by storm on Sunday night, picking up six surfboards — including wins for Choice Breakout Star Female (Blake Lively) and Male (Chace Crawford) and Choice TV Villain (Ed Westwick).
After receiving their new hardware, the cast had a lot to say before celebrating, as they opened up to Access Hollywood about the critical controversy over “Gossip Girl” and its racy new ads.
“We were surprised at how rabid the fans were,” Penn Badgley told Access of the show’s sudden popularity. “It’s been a crazy experience. It continues to get crazier.”
His on-screen romance (and real-life girlfriend) Blake seconded the emotion.
“We’re excited,” she said.
But she noted that young fans shouldn’t take the scandalous show too seriously as it returns for a second season on The CW on September 1.
“Don’t do what we do,” she said. “But we’re not preaching to anyone. And anybody that watches the show can tell that it’s not supposed to be real life. It’s very much a heightened reality.”
The youth of the show’s teen and tween fanbase has worried some media commentators, who have criticized the show’s sexual content.
“These girls will come up to us in the streets when we’re shooting and they have their uniforms on with their short skirts and I’m like, ‘You guys going to college?’ and they’re like, ‘We’re in 7th grade,’” Chace said. “And I’m like, ‘Why are you watching my show, you shouldn’t be watching this show.’ But they love [it].”
Leighton Meester, who plays Lower East Side queen bee Blair Waldorf, defended the show’s decisions.
“It’s mature, but I feel like it speaks to kids and it doesn’t white wash anything,” she said.
The show’s provocative ad campaigns, which previously included billboards depicting steamy moments with teen web-speak “OMFG” headlines, are now overlaying the words of the show’s critics on the latest hot shots – a move that may draw even more fire.
“We just end up seeing it on a billboard somewhere,” Leighton said. “But I think that it’s smart and it’s fine and it’s cool.”
“They’re very smart,” Chace added. “Everybody keeps saying they’re so racy, of course they’re racy, but you say they’re smart.”
Not one to shy from controversy, Leighton says Blair will get to test the censor’s limits in the next season.
“There’s a lot more [language],” she said. “I say Bass-hole, I say something else, but it’s all Chuck Bass-related.”
One person who’ll make no apologies for “Gossip Girl” is Bass himself, Ed Westwick, who sounded a little like his manipulative alter-ego before picking up his award for Choice TV Villain.
“I love [the attention],” he said. I can’t get enough.”
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