The Outsiders and Gossip Girl

Just about every classic novel has some sort of modern adaption, whether it be a play, movie, television show, or even just a short summary accessible to students.  Some are remakes and try to keep the same ideas as the original, while others take the main premise of the classic but add in more drama, new characters, and even completely modernize it.  Many Shakespearean adaptations are probably the most popular case of the latter, since so many basic plots are taken from his plays and turned into comedies, horrors, and more.  Take “The Lion King” for example, which was a family-friendly cartoon based on Hamlet.  Or even the rom-com “She’s the Man” starring Amanda Bynes and Channing Tatum, which was a loose interpretation of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.  No matter the movie or show, there are probably ties to the classics, whether it be through a direct adaptation of the plot or the use of a theme or character from a classic novel.

One perfect example of similar themes is seen with S. E. Hinton’s The Outsiders and the 2000’s favorite Gossip Girl.  Almost all of us have read the 1983 classic, or at least seen the film adaptation that features just about every heartthrob of the eighties.  And if you haven’t, I highly recommend both, no matter your age; despite being a seventh grade read at Hauppauge, it is a story for all ages and will definitely be nostalgic for any older readers.

That being said, The Outsiders highlights the voices of a “gang” group in the town and their struggles with the rival gang, most of which are based around class.  The “Greasers”, the group to which the main characters belong, make up the poorer, crime-based gang, whereas the “Socs” (short for “socials”) are the preppy rich kids from the West side of town.  The groups often have physical fights, known as rumbles, where they each bring a handful of their own and basically just fight it out (as one would imagine, this never ends well).  The main protagonists all live in a rough area during the mid-1960’s, and it was common for gangs to roam the streets and participate in rumbles.  However, the gangs of the sixties were the same as today’s gangs; they served more as social groups made up of friends who would look after one another.  The East side of town was the poorer part, so the Greasers all faced economic struggles and were stuck living with the social issues of poverty, resorting to petty crime to keep themselves off the streets.  Social circles and economic backgrounds were the focus of the story, since these two things both perpetuated the stereotypes the Greasers faced and were the root of the major conflicts throughout the plot.

Similarly, Gossip Girl was centered around the socio-economic lives of Manhattan’s Elite- the students living in the Upper East Side.  Each character was richer than the next, and even the seemingly-poor students (aka Dan and Jenny Humphrey) lived well above the mean (that Brooklyn loft may not be everyone’s style, but it most certainly had character and the classic New-York charm).  The scandals and problems each of the characters had almost entirely revolved around the social and economic status of each individual.  Which Ivy League college to attend, who was going to rehab for a drug or alcohol addiction (many of the characters had the means to party frequently and were exposed to drugs at very young ages, resulting in many going to rehab- and this was something their rich parents tried desperately to hide), what business deal was messed up- all of these struggles were directly or indirectly caused by the socio-economic status of the Gossip Girl crew.  Parents were designers, major business owners, or politicians, and their children were socialites, models, and entrepreneurs- everyone had to try and present themselves as classy, wealthy, and put-together, all while being teenagers trying to navigate their entry into adulthood.  Divides between the “rich” and “poor” were just as relevant in Gossip Girl as they were in
The Outsiders; the Humphry kids from Brooklyn were originally ostracised and alienated from group of rich kids at their private school, all due to their lack of a trust-fund and famous parents.  While it is not based off of The Outsiders, Gossip Girl is the perfect show for someone looking to find a program with the same major focus on socio-economic divides between teenagers and how that influences their lives.


*For anyone who may have already watched the show, 90210 (the spin off of the nineties hit-series Beverly Hills, 90210) is basically a California version of Gossip Girl and is definitely worth a watch.