François Truffaut’s seminal 1959 film, The 400 Blows, finds Antoine Doinel (Jean-Pierre Léaud) at the mercy of patriarchal authority he can’t stand. His numerous similarities to Gossip Girl mainstay Chuck Bass (Ed Westwick) aren’t just in the fact that his existence goes utterly unappreciated by his father (who has actually adopted him) and that he’s constantly seeking the affection of a mother who doesn’t care. Mainly, the correlation between Antoine and Chuck lies in the friendship they share with a sympathetic rich kid.
Antoine’s best friend, René Bigey (Patrick Auffey), is generally more well-liked and more approachable. Correspondingly, Chuck’s best friend, Nate (Chace Crawford), tends to be the one that people in their inner circle are more comfortable talking to. The rough exterior of both Antoine and Chuck makes it necessary for them to have a friend who can act as their, for lack of a better word, spokesman.
As Antoine and Chuck navigate the unstable waters of an education system that has no room for their disinterest, their respective best friends help them cope by offering them a sounding board and, at times, even a place to stay when they need an escape. While Antoine and Chuck have extremely different socioeconomic backgrounds, they could not be more alike in terms of how they came to decide on a best friend.
Nate and René are mutable, and easily relegated to the role of sidekick. They make their opinions known when Chuck or Antoine asks, but are otherwise there to serve as relief from the perils of the main characters’ bad boy persona. And while Truffaut may be horrified to know that his masterpiece of French new wave cinema was being identified with a CW show, the comparison can’t be ignored.