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Abstract

The television shows Gossip Girl (2007-2012) and Pretty Little Liars (2010 – present) explore worlds with characters that know everything about everyone, Gossip Girl and A, respectively. Gossip Girl and A’s gender, relationship with the show’s characters, and genres of each show work to support how Gossip Girl portrays social media surveillance in a positive light, while Pretty Little Liars, in contrast, remains aligned with the dangers of it. Gossip Girl and A are manipulative in nature, and they both obtain privacy-invading amounts of information on the shows’ characters; however, the feminization of Gossip Girl entices audiences, thus making her more likeable. On the other hand, A is a classic villain who serves the show’s thriller genre, thus critiquing the lack of boundaries when under surveillance. Gossip Girl’s role as a modern, technologically built femme fatale, the role of gender, the relationship between “she” and the other characters, as well as the glamorized genre/tone/style of the television series work to indicate that Gossip Girl advocates for a surveillance society (or at least makes it look appealing). In contrast, the implications of the gender(s) of A from Pretty Little Liars, abusive relationship between A and the girls, and the thriller genre of the show serve to illustrate the television series’ critique on a surveillance society. The two shows offer contrasting views on the ethics of surveillance, which ultimately opens up a discussion regarding what surveillance means for individuals’ right to privacy.

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