The series begins with the return of Upper East Side "it girl", Serena van der Woodsen (Blake Lively) from a mysterious stay at a boarding school in Cornwall, Connecticut. Blair Waldorf (Leighton Meester), whom creators describe as the queen at the center of their chess game, is a longtime friend and occasional rival of Serena's, and the queen bee of Constance Billard School's social scene. The story also follows Chuck Bass (Ed Westwick), the bad boy of the Upper East Side; "golden boy" Nate Archibald (Chace Crawford), Chuck's best friend and Blair's boyfriend for many years. However, their relationship had been rocky ever since Serena left for boarding school. Other characters of the turbulent Manhattan scene: Dan Humphrey (Penn Badgley), Dan's best friend Vanessa Abrams (Jessica Szohr), and Dan's sister, Jenny Humphrey (Taylor Momsen).