When Gossip Girl first premiered over a decade ago, Dan and Serena were a likable ship. As the series went on, fans flip-flopped a little. Fans of Dair and Serenate were not on the Derena ship, but you still had some people sailing along happily.
Then on Gossip Girl Season 6 Episode Episode 10, it was revealed that Dan had been Gossip Girl all along. Suddenly, the couple wasn't so shippable.
Dan Humphrey went from moony teen heartthrob to the scum of the earth. Dude was a creepy stalker, not to mention a manipulative sociopath. He was basically Joe Goldberg; we just didn't know it. Serena may not have been the fan-favorite, but didn't she deserve better than that?
Funnily enough, while Derena shippers were thrown for a loop by Gossip Girl's true identity, Dair fans were still die-hard shippers.
There is just as much noise about how Dan and Blair should have ended up together, as there is noise about Dan being toxic, and how he shouldn't have been Gossip Girl.
When I first binged Gossip Girl this past year, I went in knowing all the spoilers. I knew from the start that Dan was Gossip Girl, and I knew who would end up with who.
I kept asking myself how it would all make sense at that end; how would the writers make it okay for Dan to end up with anyone instead of stranding him on a floating iceberg in the middle of the arctic?
Truly, I found watching this show about horrible people draining and depressing.
The only character worse than Dan was Chuck, and both of them get happy endings. Serena, Blair, and Jenny weren't exactly angels either. Even Vanessa went dark.
How do you salvage a show where it is near impossible to root for or even like the characters? How can you be okay with a person like Dan, "winning?"
As I finished up the series, I realized that the show was actually very poetic.
The point of the show was that these were horrible people who could basically get away with murder. It is a cautionary tale that holds a mirror up to the worst of society. Well, maybe not the worst-worst, but still pretty bad, you know?
So that's the show, but what about the endgames? I'm not touching Chair, but when the series ended, Derena actually made perfect sense to me.
Once you understand Serena and Dan, you realize that they could never be happy with anyone but each other. So let's get to understand them.
Before we do that, though, I want to address the Dair elephant in the room.
I fully expected to ship Dair going in based on various Youtube videos I'd seen of them combined with my negative opinion of Chuck Bass.
If the creators had not made Dan Gossip Girl, had gone with Eric or Nate as they told Vulture they considered earlier in the series, then Dan and Blair would have made a decent couple and an acceptable endgame.
However, in a world where Dan was not only Gossip Girl all along but became Gossip Girl because of Serena.
I just don't see Blair forgiving that. It wasn't in her character.
It was in Serena's character, though.
When we meet Serena on Gossip Girl Season 1 Episode 1, she seems like a kind yet flawed person who is trying to face her problems and better herself.
She is popular, the "it" girl, but she doesn't relish the status. She just wants to do right by her brother and her best friend. She wants to turn her life around.
Had Serena successfully turned her life around and became the well-rounded, kind, confident, independent person she was seemingly trying to be on Gossip Girl Season 1, she would not have fit with the real Dan Humphrey.
She would have fit with the Dan we thought we met on Gossip Girl Season 1. But that wasn't who either of them really was.
Serena Van Der Woodsen came from an upper-class family in Manhattan. She was privileged financially. She was also beautiful and charming. But where it mattered most, Serena was ignored.
Her mother was continually marrying the newest love of her life and starting a new family while neglecting her children.
Serena's father left when she was young, and she never got over the abandonment and rejection. So Serena had mommy issues and even bigger daddy issues.
She wanted to be noticed by someone who would make the sting of her parent's rejection seem unimportant.
While her mother's neglect mattered, Serena's issues with her father's absence were prominent in her relationship with every guy she ever knew.
Throughout the series, every guy Serena dated thought the sun rose and set with her.
It was a universally acknowledged truth that a single man was in want of Serena Van Der Woodsen.
Serena dated some frogs, but she also dated a lot of great guys who would have done anything for her. So what makes Dan so special?
To understand that, we have to understand what Dan did for Serena, or rather, what Gossip Girl did for Serena.
In the early seasons, Serena bemoaned being Gossip Girl's "it girl."
She always said how she hated that the website was constantly talking about her and her friends and being mean about them. However, that was proven to be a lot of talk.
On Gossip Girl Season 5, Serena briefly gains control of the Gossip Girl site, and while initially, she thinks she can take the spotlight off herself, she finds that when it is gone, she misses it.
At this point, Serena is feeling very alone because Dan is with Blair.
Blair was the star of Dan's book, and Serena was the joke starter girlfriend. How telling is it that at this point Serena wants to be the star of Gossip Girl again?
We don't hear a lot about the life of Serena and friends pre-Gossip Girl blog, but it was clear that the existence of Gossip Girl changed all their lives and none more than Serena's.
On Gossip Girl Season 5 Episode 19, Blair encourages Serena to find a new "it girl" for Gossip Girl to talk about.
She tells Serena, "You didn't really become Serena Van Der Woodsen until you got naked on that aircraft carrier ... the photo landed on Gossip Girl, and that was it. It's going to take a moment like that to create the next Serena Van Der Woodsen."
Let's examine what that statement means.
Before Gossip Girl, Serena was no doubt well-liked. She was was pretty, and she was rich.
Then again, so was just about everybody at Constance Billard School for Girls (minus the occasional Humphrey anomaly).
Everybody in Serena's social circle was pretty and had money. Serena was no more special than any of them. Until, as Dan put it, she was "talked about."
Serena was looking for attention, and instead of showering her with his own, Dan gave Serena a world of worshipers.
They may have judged her and hated her half the time, but they also envied her and loved to know about her. She had the same status as someone who would show up on the cover of People Magazine.
Dan turned Serena from another rich girl with daddy issues into an icon. He immortalized her and gave her exactly what she wanted most; attention. Not his own but the entire upper-east side.
He had more power over her and the people in her life than anyone. For a girl with daddy issues, that kind of power and control is incredibly attractive.
While Serena was trying to turn her life around, something she constantly claimed to attempt but never actually did, Dan would have been the wrong sort of boy for her. He was just as bad as the guys she did know. He was worse.
But Serena never really wanted to turn her life around. She liked being the "it girl." She wanted someone who would be able to give her all the attention she craved but who, at the same time, could be equal.
Other guys who worshipped the ground Serena walked on could never be equal to Serena.
They were trying so hard to please her and be perfect for her that they would never cross over to the dark side where she lived. Serena used boys, she drank, did drugs, she cheated and lied, and she utilized Gossip Girl to tell tales on her friends.
On Gossip Girl Season 5 Episode 8, Serena finds proof of thousands of tips she emailed to Gossip Girl over the years.
Blair, Serena's best friend, and favorite person in the world sent twice as much. Everyone Serena really cared about (except Nate) sent messages to Gossip Girl.
This is exactly why a nice guy like Nate could never end up with Serena.
She would never really respect him, and frankly, he deserved better. Dude didn't lack options, and he wanted to grow into his own person. His goals were even noble sometimes, if a little naive, and that wasn't Serena and Dan.
Dan wrote horrible things about Serena and knew all of her darkest secrets before they even met.
Yet he still wanted her, knowing exactly who and what she was. His whole life, his goals, his relationships, everything centered around Serena and her world.
Much as they both bemoaned it throughout the series, both of them wanted to be upper-east siders.
They wanted to be talked about. They wanted the glamour, and they wanted the dark side. They wanted to do deplorable things and be able to get away with it. And they wanted the world to know their names.
Could Derena be a duo of supervillains? Sure. Nobody said this was a love story between a nice boy and girl.
But they are well suited. In the end, Serena saw Dan as someone she could respect because he gained control of a world she never could, and he made her into a god. They make perfect sense in a dark, twisted sort of way.
Do you agree with my analysis of why Dan and Serena make sense for each other? Let me know in the comments.
Leora W is a staff writer for TV Fanatic..