On the television show "Gossip Girl," Serena Van Der Woodsen (Blake Lively) is the gorgeous wealthy daughter of Lily Bass Humphrey (Kelly Rutherford) and sister to younger brother (Connor Paolo) who recently tried to attempt suicide. When Serena returns from boarding school, she is unwelcome by most of her friends; including her best friend Blair (Leighton Meester) who is concerned that Serena will overtake her "Queen Bee" status.
Chuck Bass (Ed Westwick) is aware of an event that took place before Serena left, her taking Nate Archibald's (Chace Crawford) virginity. Chuck attempts to rape Serena but she escapes. She befriends Dan Humphrey (Penn Badgley) and his younger sister Jenny Humphrey (Taylor Momsen). Eventually Blair finds out about Nate and Serena, which leads to a continuous circle of fighting and reconciliation between the two. The friends eventually make peace after Serena apologizes for the incident with Nate and for leaving her best friend (Blair) alone in her time of need.
Trouble starts on the Upper East Side when Serena's mother becomes engaged to Bart Bass (Robert John Burke), Chuck's father. When Serena finds out about Lily and Rufus Humphrey's (Matthew Settle) relationship, it further complicates her relationship with Dan. To top everything off, Georgina Sparks (Michelle Trachtenberg) arrives in town, slowly revealing the real reason why Serena left for boarding school in the first place. Blair eventually retaliates against Georgina with the help of Chuck and Nate and the intervention of Vanessa Abrams (Jessica Szohr), successfully driving Georgina out of Manhattan. Serena eventually tells Dan the truth, only to find out that he wants to break up with her.
In the summer, Serena tries to get over Dan by spending time with Blair in the Hamptons. While exposing herself to New York's high society, Serena meets Poppy Lifton (Tamara Feldman). She and Poppy participate in Eleanor Waldorf's (Margaret Colin) fashion show. This further strains her relationship with Blair, but they make up during a trip to Yale.
After Bart's death, Serena accepts an invitation from Aaron Rose (John Patrick Amedori) to go to Argentina. She returns only to find out that she and Dan share a sibling, which further strains their relationship. Poppy and her boyfriend steal money from Serena. In order to retrieve the money, Blair reluctantly agrees to scheme with Chuck but their plan fails and Serena is arrested. Her arrest turns her into a local celebrity. In order to find her father, Serena leaves New York as soon as the summer starts.
Later, Serena earns herself a new enemy; Juliet Sharp (Katie Cassidy). At first Juliet becomes close to Nate in order to get to Serena, but later on she actually starts falling in love with him. Serena and Blair realize that Juliet is bad news and try to expose her. When they confront her, they learn that Lily is partly responsible for Juliet's brother being sent to prison.
"B, I hear scheming in your voice. You cannot sabotage him."
"I would say I'm sorry about today, but in my head that just sounds inadequate."