Hi all. I’ve just finished reading the book One Day by David Nicholls and I wanted to share what I found really similar to the show right now and above all Chuck and Blair’s relationship, and their past/present relationships.
I’ve had the prompt to read the book because I wanted to, but also thanks to Sally’s short parallel about why this book seems one of the inspirations of the GG Writers for this season and last season, and how some spoilers suggest few parallels with OD and GG’s storylines.
The text contains spoilers for One Day, so if you were thinking about reading the book or watch the movie in the future, stop reading. The parallels are in ORDER with how the book flows.
For those of you that don’t know anything about One Day, it’s a bestseller that narrates the story of two young people, Emma and Dexter. They met at their graduation party, Emma is finally content that Dexter noticed her and slept with her, because she had had a crush on him since University started. After their first meeting and the sex, both think that they’ll part ways and never have the chance to know each other deeply, but somehow they find the way. Each chapter of the book narrates the same day (15 July) of a different year, from 1988 to 2007.
In the first year after graduation, Emma tries to understand what to do with her life now that she has a degree, while Dexter travels to many countries such as Italy (Rome) and India (Bombay). They keep in touch with letters where they tell each other what they are doing. It’s evident that they like each other very much, but none of them directly tells to the other.
As the book progresses, we find more about Dexter’s and Emma’s personalities.
In Eric’s email to Blair, he says that they are both Emma’s while Serena is a Dexter. Well, Chuck is a Dexter too, and Dan is also an Emma and a Ian.
Dexter is a wealthy guy who loves to drink and get wasted and is sexually frustrated, and arrogant, cannot be taken seriously. The relationship with his family doesn’t seem to be bad, he seems to love his mother a lot but is a bit cold with his sister and father. He likes to work in the showbiz, in TV.
Emma is a normal and usual girl. She seems a bit unsure about life unlike Dexter, and she rarely goes out with guys unless she really likes them. She finds that what she’d love to do in her life is write novels and be published. In chapter 18 of the book, Emma describes her 22 year old self like this:
“Pretentious, petulant, lazy, speechifying, judgemental. Self-pitying, self-righteous, self-important, all the selfs except self-confident, the quality that she had always needed the most.”
Emma was really unsure about herself, and in one letter Dexter tells her:
“I think you’re scared of being happy, Emma. I think you think that the natural way of things is for your life to be grim and grey and dour and to hate your job, hate where you live, not to have success or money or God forbid a boyfriend (and a quick discersion here – that whole self-deprecating thing about being unattractive is getting pretty boring I can tell you). […] Well I’m not going to scribble it out because it’s politically incorrect to call someone ‘sexy’ because it is also TRUE. You’re gorgeous, you old hag, and if I could give you just one gift ever for the rest of your life it would be this. Confidence. It would be the gift of Confidence. ”
Chuck has tried some times to push Blair to understand she needs a boost of confidence because everyone but herself knows that she is amazing and sexy. For eg., when he voted 150 times for her in 2.24, when he paid the paparazzo in 3.04, when he applied for her to get into Columbia in secret. He also told her that she’s scared to be happy in 4.22: “This is your chance at happiness. You think you shouldn’t want it ’cause you’ve never had it and it scares you. But you deserve your fairytale.”
“Yet it‘s Emma that he wants to see the most. Why isn‘t she with him tonight? He has all these things he wants to ask her like why have they never got together, they‘d be great together, a team, a pair, Dex and Em, Em and Dex, everybody says so.” Or: “We‘re quite a pair, aren‘t we? Dex and Em -” “Em and Dex. Like Rogers and Astaire—“ “Burton and Taylor—“ “Mary and Joseph—“
“I am me. And you are you. We’re Chuck and Blair. Blair and Chuck. The worst thing you’ve ever done—the darkest thought you’ve ever had—I will stand by you through anything.” (2.13)
Dexter’s mom dies of cancer when he’s 28. He and Emma are drawn together again after he loses himself because of the loss. “For a moment, Dexter had a fleeting but perfectly clear memory of himself at his mother‘s funeral, curled up on the bathroom floor while Emma held onto him and stroked his hair.”
Chuck’s father dies when he’s 17 and Blair is there to comfort him after Bart’s funeral in 2.13.
Both Chuck and Dexter drown their sorrows in alcohol and are abandoned from the girls when they have had enough of their behavior. It seems as if they aren’t able to pick themselves up and move on from the pain of losing a parent.
Dex and Em grow apart once again because at some point she finds a guy she likes and starts going out with him. The guy in question is Ian, a funny man who starts working with Emma at the Mexican Restaurant in the early years after graduation.
“He had a pleasant, large open face beneath the loose straw-coloured curls, smooth ruddy cheeks and a mouth that hung open in repose. Not exactly handsome, but, well – sturdy. For some reason, not entirely kind, it was a face that made her think of tractors.”
Ian is a comedian, he has gigs in pubs and often talks with people via his jokes, changing his accent to be more funny and effective. Ian keeps asking her out but she refuses for one or two years until she finally gives up and decides it’s time to date him. Although he seems amusing at first with all the jokes he says, Emma soon grows tired of them and tries to make him change this aspect of his personality when they start dating. Their first date is on the same day/year Dexter goes to see his mother and desperately tries to call Emma to have support because he’s been feeling very shitty and confused because his mother is sick, but Emma never picks the phone up, she’s having fun with Ian Whitehead. Dexter calls Ian ‘Laughing Boy’, Ian calls Dexter ‘Golden Boy’.
Reminds me of episode 2.18 when Chuck has just left Elle and is looking for Blair but she’s with Carter, or either episode 2.19 when he looks for Blair and she’s with Nate, or episode 4.17 when Chuck is looking for Blair but she’s with Dan. Moments where Chuck just wanted someone to talk to but Blair wasn’t avaiable.
Ian seems totally Dan to me. The description, what he does in life and how he behaves. Ian loathes and judges Dexter. One time Dex came with a hot model to the place where Emma used to work and Ian criticized that he often showed his conquests off, and didn’t think about her, he knew that Emma loved Dex already. He thinks Dex is snob and fake because he works on TV. He also thinks Dex always took Emma for granted.
We can’t say Chuck and Dan love each other. Dan has judged Chuck a lot because of his life and choices, and via Inside he has tried to show that he is not the guy for Blair. In the past Nate had also semi-judged Chuck because he had slept with Blair, and Chuck had been silently jealous/accepting that his bff was dating Blair already during S2, the same way he is trying to accept now Dan dating her.
“Irrationally, unreasonably, he has become – what? Jealous? No, not jealous, but resentful perhaps. He has always expected Emma to be there, a resource he can call upon at any time like the emergency services. Since the cataclysm of his mother‘s death last Christmas he has found himself more and more reliant on her at exactly the point that she has become less available to him. She used to return phone-calls immediately, now days go by without a word. She‘s been away with Ian‘ she says, but where do they go? What do they do? Most annoyingly of all, Emma seems to be relishing this newfound independence from Dexter. He feels as if he‘s being taught a lesson, as if he‘s being slapped round the face with her newfound contentment.”
Emma and Ian are still dating two years later, and Emma and Dexter are still in contact but talk less. Ian seems threatened by Dexter and asks random questions to Emma every once in a while. He wonders if she’d date him after all these years, if she still likes him etc. She comforts her boyfriend saying that it can’t happen because she loves him, not Dexter.
There is a spoiler about Dan OR Blair saying I love you but the other not saying it back. Well, could it be that Dan says it because Blair spends time helping Chuck and he feels as if he’s losing her, but Blair doesn’t say it back? Or could be that Blair says something but she doesn’t mean it and she does it only to make Dan feel sure of himself/to convince herself she doesn’t love Chuck anymore?
One Day quotes this [about Emma's I love yous to Ian]: I love him, she thought, I‘m just not in love with him and also I don‘t love him. I‘ve tried, I‘ve strained to love him but I can‘t. I am building a life with a man I don‘t love, and I don‘t know what to do about it.
The day Emma and Ian have this talk, she’ll have to have dinner with Dexter at night. Emma finds Dexter changed when they met for dinner. He takes her to an expensive restaurant and instead of focusing on her, he sets his eyes on one of the women working there. Emma is annoyed by this, she doesn’t want to be treated as if he can get rid of her whenever he wants to.
“I‘m just being myself!”
She spun to face him. “No, you‘re not. I know what you‘re like and this isn‘t you. You‘re horrible like this. You‘re obnoxious, Dexter. I mean you always were a bit obnoxious, every now and then, a bit full of yourself, but you were funny too, and kind sometimes, and interested in people other than yourself. But now you‘re just out of control, with the booze, the drugs—“
This reminds me of two episodes, 2.14 and 2.15. In the first one, Blair sees Chuck standing in the courtyard with a cigarette and asks him “Who are you?”. He has been losing himself failure after failure, the loss of his father is almost unbearable. In the scene from 2.14 still, the one at Victrola, Blair asks him who is he again and why did he come back and Chuck says “it’s time to let go of your fantasies” because he’s just living up to his potential. In 2.15, she also remarks on how she just wanted to be there for him but he didn’t let her and just kept destroying what was left of him with drugs and women.
Later in the evening, Emma also confesses Dexter that she is in love with him but she doesn’t recognize him anymore. “Dexter, I love you so much. So, so much, and I probably always will.‘ Her lips touched his cheek. I just don‘t like you anymore. I‘m sorry.”
Doesn’t this look like Blair’s love confession to Chuck in both 5.13 and 5.17?
“Of course I love you, Chuck. I’ve always loved you. I love you more and more every day if it’s even possible to love someone that much.” AND “I love you. And I always will. But doesn’t mean I’m in love with you, not the way you need me to be, not the way you deserve. I’m sorry.”
Like Chuck and Blair after those episodes, Dexter and Emma stop talking for quite a while and Emma is surprised by a proposal from Ian few months later. Blair also had or better say – almost had, proposals. In 1.07, Nate’s parents subtly wanted them to get married. In 3.22 and 4.20, Chuck was going to propose to her but failed both times. After the first time, Blair gives the ring back to Chuck in 4.02.
We find out a year later that Emma has refused Ian’s proposal. She doesn’t want to create a life with a man she doesn’t love as much as she loves Dexter, so after dumping Ian, she dates in secret the principal of the school she works as a teacher. Ian is pissed and depressed that Emma left him, so one day he goes to her house and looks in her drawers and her notebooks and confronts her about it. He is angry that the notebooks are full of poems about Dexter and some of the things they did together, he comes to think she is indeed dating Dexter and that’s the reason why she decided to break up with him. Ian here looks so much like Louis from the start of this season 5.
Thanks to a call sheet, we know that by the end of 5.23 some pages of Blair’s diary leak and that she wrote bad things about her friends and family, about Chuck too. There’s also few pages that should make Chuck hopeful… if the pages in question are about him and their love, the parallel stands.
Eventually, Dexter finds ‘love’ while Emma keeps being single after she leaves Ian. The girl in question is a beautiful blonde who comes from a wealthy family. With her, he starts to drink less and less and behave better than he ever did since he was born. This girl reminded me of what Eva could have been for Chuck, who tried to change him. Chuck tells Blair in episode 4.04 “You just can’t stand to see someone finally change me that wasn’t you.” OR “She fell in love with me when she didn’t know that I was Chuck Bass. And tonight I’m going to show her who that man really is.”
Emma and Dexter met again after a year he is with his new girlfriend, they are at one of their old friend’s wedding. Emma is still single, but she knows what to do with her life now. She is trying to get her book published while Dexter is trying to find a new job since TV refuses to give him one. His career is slowly dying.
It’s at this point that Emma becomes Chuck and Dexter turns into Blair.
Dex and Em have a talk at the wedding, and Dexter informs her that he’s going to get married with his girlfriend in a few weeks. It’s not just that, his fiancée is also pregnant with his baby. Emma seems heartbroken because she feels as if she lost whatever chance to be with him in a future, but at the same time she’s happy for him and his future family. She excuses herself for not being present too much during the last years and above all after Dex’s mother died, and the two promise each other to be bffs again from now on. Dexter also asks Emma to write his vows for the wedding because he’s not able to, but she refuses.
This bit of the story reminded me of the whole pregnancy storyline this season. Blair is now Dexter, expecting a child and about to marry a man/woman she loves/he loves but not as much as their past flames. This part also made me think about Blair and Serena and Blair being sorry she wasn’t too close to her after CeCe died. Still hasn’t happened as a scene, but who knows maybe we’ll have this confrontation in the future episodes. Also, the vows. Louis asked Dan to write his for his wedding.
Unlike Blair’s pregnancy, Dexter’s wife gives birth to a baby girl few months after he and Emma met. He notices he’s not suited to be a father, plus he argues a lot with his wife. This marriage is put to an end when he finds out his wife has a lover, his flatmate from the days he went to University. Like Blair and Louis, Dexter and his wife divorce. In Blouis case, it’s exposed that she and Dan are having an ‘affair’ and that’s why Blair will have to pay the dowry to put herself out of trouble with Louis’ family.
After Dexter’s wedding ends, he reaches Emma in Paris. She has had her first book published and is living there for inspiration. They share a scene at Gare du Nord, that if you recall is also the place where Chuck and Blair have that wonderful talk “It isn’t my world without you in it” in episode 4.02. Blair and Serena also go to Paris in the S3 finale, and in 4.02 they find Chuck is there too. Chuck and Blair have a confrontation and she pushes him not to give up on who he is and everything.
Dexter goes to Paris to confront Emma about her feelings. Before she left, in fact, they had had sex and he wondered if she still had feelings for him. Emma tells him that she has now a new guy, a French guy that she met while she was reading a book. Blair also knows Louis in Paris while she’s visiting the Louvre. Dex would love to start something serious with Emma, finally. But she addresses him that his timing is not right.
“I came to talk about what happened. You and me, finally getting together. I just thought it would have been a bigger deal for you. That‘s all.” – Dexter
“Is this about saving my life again? Because we’re past that. You said you wanted to wait until your marriage was over. Now it’s over.” (5.17)
Dexter and Emma finally have their chance together after Paris. After two years, they get married. Dexter opens a successful bar in London, and his life gets better as the days go. He rarely drinks now. The only thing they don’t have, is a baby. Emma tries to get pregnant several times, but she seems as if she can’t have children. The only child she looks forward to as if hers, is Dexter little daughter Jasmin. This still hasn’t happened in Chuck and Blair’s story, but who knows. The only bit happened is in 5.10 about Chuck wanting to go away with Blair to raise her child as his own.
And here’s the last parallel. Super spoilery about One Day’s ending, so if you still want to read the book, don’t look further. Lol.
Dex and Emma want to go to a doctor to see if they have problems, but that day while riding her bike in the rain, Emma is run over by a truck and dies. This kinda reminded me of Blair and Chuck’s accident from episode 5.10, but without the dying part of course, although my spec was that after the accident Chuck had ‘metaphorically’ died like in Inside and that’s why Blair seemed so cold to him. Not God’s pact.
After Emma’s death, Ian writes a letter to Dexter saying that she glowed with him while she never did when they were together. Despite he loathed him and though he was a selfish bastard, he knew that Emma was better with Dexter rather than with him. He knows about Emma’s notebooks full of Dexter and their love.
If One Day is indeed the book that influenced the writers, then we have good chances Chuck and Blair can try to be together again and Blair can risk to be happy.
“I know that it scares you and I know that it’s a risk, but don’t enter into a false life just because you’re scared to face the real one.” – Serena (5.13)
And here’s over! It was too long, I know. But I needed to write this down. I really hope you’ve enjoyed it and read it until the end. Tell me what do you think!