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Penn Badgley's Honest Thoughts On Kissing Blake Lively On Gossip Girl

Penn Badgley has been in the entertainment industry for a while now, and he's kissed a fair amount of people during that time. So what did he really think about kissing his "Gossip Girl" co-star Blake Lively back in the day? Reviews were mixed ... for a good reason.

During an appearance on "Watch What Happens Live" with Bravo icon Andy Cohen in 2015, a caller asked Badgley about his best and worst on-screen kisses, and Lively earned a somewhat dubious distinction. "I'd say best ... I'll say it was [Blake Lively], because we actually had a relationship at the time," Badgley said, before continuing: "Maybe Blake after we broke up."

Throughout the six season run of "Gossip Girl," which aired on The CW from 2007 to 2012, Badgley played lead character Daniel Humphrey, sometimes referred to as "Lonely Boy" due to his status as a social outcast because he and his family live ... in a palatial loft on Brooklyn's waterfront rather than in a pre-war building on the Upper East Side. (Some aspects of "Gossip Girl" haven't aged all that well). Right from the beginning of the show, Dan pines for beautiful yet troubled socialite Serena van der Woodsen (Lively), and the two do have an on-again, off-again romance throughout the entire story. That ended up turning into a real-life love story ... for a little while.

Blake Lively and Penn Badgley actually dated on the set of Gossip Girl — and kept their split a secret

While playing erstwhile step-siblings and lovers Serena and Dan (yes, really) on "Gossip Girl," Blake Lively and Penn Badgley did, in fact, date from 2007 to 2010 — and in an oral history in Vanity Fair commemorating the show's ten-year anniversary in 2017, Lively said that, at first, the two pretended they weren't dating at all due to one specific concern. "I remember there was one point where we were just afraid of how our personal lives overlapping our work life could be perceived by our bosses," Lively recalled, before then saying she realized that her real-life relationship actually created a bizarre form of synergy. "[But then] we were like, 'Oh no, that's exactly what they want.' They wanted us all to date. They wanted us all to wear the same clothes that we're wearing on the show. They wanted that, because then it fed their whole narrative."

Obviouysly, the biggest worry with an on-set romance is what happens if you two break up ... and as executive producer Joshua Safran said, the pair was incredibly professional about their split. "The shocking thing was, I found out on the set of the Season 2 finale that Blake and Penn had broken up months before," Safran told the outlet "They kept the breakup hidden from the crew, which you could never do now. I don't even know how they did it. They kept it from everybody which is a testament to how good they are as actors. Because they did not want their personal drama to relate to the show."

What happens to Dan and Serena at the end of Gossip Girl?

We've established that Dan and Serena spend the entirety of "Gossip Girl" dating, breaking up, getting back together, breaking up again, and so on ... but what happens at the end? It's a little complicated, so here's a refresher on the show's entire narrative device and how it relates to Dan and Serena's somewhat baffling ending. 

All of "Gossip Girl" is narrated by the titular gossip "girl," an anonymous and apparently omniscient blogger who spends her every waking hour reporting on the comings and goings of Dan, Serena, and all of their extremely privileged and beautiful friends. Naturally, the targeted characters spend a lot of time trying to figure out Gossip Girl's identity but come up short pretty much every time ... until the series finale, when Dan sits down with Serena and reveals that he's been Gossip Girl the whole time

This reveal brings about a ton of plot holes (Dan frequently reacts to Gossip Girl "blasts" as if he's shocked by the information, even if he's alone), but it also makes the final moments of the finale very, very weird. Five years after Dan's confession, the characters gather for his wedding ... to Serena, a girl that he mercilessly cyberbullied under his Gossip Girl moniker (he calls her "irrelevant," runs a picture of her buying a pregnancy test, and some more particularly vile things we can't even really discuss here). This is portrayed as a "happy ending," but to be frank, it's an extremely strange conclusion for these two characters.

What are Blake Lively and Penn Badgley doing today?

Since their days on "Gossip Girl," Blake Lively and Penn Badgley have gone their separate ways ... and both of their careers have reached new heights. Badgley stars on the Netflix series "You," where he plays Joe Goldberg — who is, to be frank, an evolution of Dan Humphrey where he's much more sinister and murders people — as the killer moves from New York to Los Angeles to London and back to the Big Apple again. Lively has shown off her considerable range since playing Serena in projects like "The Shallows," "The Age of Adaline," and "A Simple Favor."

Both Lively and Badgley are happily paired off — Lively is married to Ryan Reynolds, with whom she has four daughters, while Badgley has a child with his wife, singer Domino Kirke. Still, in 2023, Badgley made a touching comment about his relationship with Lively, and said that he truly believes it saved him from a much more difficult experience with young stardom. While speaking to Variety interviewer Kate Aurthur, Badgley mentioned a "dark undercurrent that would bottom out in my later 20s," but when Aurthur asked if it was related to substance abuse, Badgley revealed that Lively helped him avoid that path. "To be honest, I never struggled with substance," Badgley said. "Blake didn't drink, and I think our relationship in some ways saved me from forcing myself to go down that road."

"Gossip Girl" is available to stream on Max now.