Melodramatic emotion and excess in Gossip Girl and The Vampire Diaries
: appealing to the Gen Z viewer

Student thesis: Master's ThesisMaster of Philosophy (MPhil)


This thesis examines the stylistic and structural similarities between nineteenth-century stage melodrama and twenty-first century television dramas Gossip Girl (2007-2012) and The Vampire Diaries (2009-2017). In my Overview, I provide close readings of exemplary scenes from both, focusing on their dynamics of emotional excess, melodramatic music, stylised dream sequences, and themes of feminine doubling. In Chapter One, I argue the heightening and restricting of emotion in these shows engages the emotionally overwhelmed ‘Generation Z’ girl, raising questions about the link between humanity and feeling. In Chapter Two, I consider the significance of musicality in my case studies, analysing the emotional roles of their instrumental and lyrical soundtracks. In Chapter Three, I explore stylised dream sequences and their melodramatic potentials both within the narrative and among Gen Z girls. In Chapter Four, I examine representations of feminine doubling and the Gen Z girls who double their favourite characters on social media. Ultimately, in this thesis I argue Gossip Girl and The Vampire Diaries demonstrate the transhistorical potentials for emotional validation and identity exploration afforded to Gen Z girls and feminine adolescents by melodrama.
Date of Award9 May 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bristol
SupervisorHelen Piper (Supervisor) & Catherine E Hindson (Supervisor)


  • melodrama
  • 19th century
  • gen z
  • gossip girl
  • the vampire diaries

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