The breakouts

"GOSSIP GIRL" teems with rich teens obsessed with sex, drugs, status, fashion and themselves -- with a penchant for texting about it. They rival Gatsby's Daisy Buchanan in selfishness and desirability. (OK, who just stopped reading to Google Daisy Buchanan? For shame.) The underage characters swill cocktails, fall in and out of bed and scheme for popularity, with Blair Waldorf, played by Leighton Meester, being the most fabulously conniving of them all.

While the show has done pretty well on the CW, it's almost always the No. 1 download on iTunes, the audience reflecting its characters' technological savvy. For executive producers Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage, the cultural permeation is part of the show's appeal. Adds Meester, "People have a fascination with celebrity and they like to see rich, seemingly perfect people have real flaws and be all messed up."

Next season will start out with a few summer episodes in -- where else? -- the Hamptons. Then it's senior year for Blair and most of her cohorts. Meester has no idea what to expect, but she's ready for it. "Every single thing they throw at me, I'm usually super shocked at first, and then really excited."

-- L.R.

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