six feet under

It Is About Time That We All Acknowledge ‘The Michelle Trachtenberg Effect’

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I have sat idly by for years without bringing this up, but I can do so no longer. We all need to face the fact that when it comes to television, Michelle Trachtenberg is an ominous force of doom. In movies, Trachtenberg has given solid, fun performances in “Ice Princess,” “17 Again, “Harriet the Spy,” and more, but when she departs from the big screen, her she fits into a weird form of menacing typecasting. Basically, she has a habit of showing up in the final seasons of good shows and messing everything up.

Maybe it was a coincidence when Trachtenberg showed up out of the blue to complicate the lives of both the Scooby Gang and the Fishers in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Six Feet Under,” but when she did it again in the final seasons of “Weeds” and then again in “Gossip Girl,” it became her brand. Plus, these are known to be her major television roles — this is what Michelle Trachtenberg is known for!

Probably the most complicated of these shows to argue exhibits The Michelle Trachtenberg Effect is “Buffy,” since Trachtenberg’s character of Dawn Summers isn’t really meant to be a malevolent character, but she still brings a host of new dilemmas with her and is a pretty universally hated by diehard fans of the show. Basically, Dawn is to blame for Buffy dying (for the second time), she develops some weird kleptomania that leads to a lot of demonic issues, and is just an all-around crybaby that everyone needs to babysit or horrible stuff happens.

In “Six Feet Under,” Trachtenberg manages to swoop into the drama and do some major damage in just a 4 episode arc in the middle of season 4. As the pop singer Celeste, Trachtenberg hires David Fisher’s husband Keith to be her bodyguard and then has sex with him, causing major tremors in the pair’s marriage. In “Weeds,” Trachtenberg plays Emma, a fellow drug dealer who shows up in season 7 and we initially think is a friend to the Botwins, but turns out to be the kingpin of their opposing operation.

Finally, the writers or casting directors for “Gossip Girl” must have picked up on this Trachtenberg trend, because her character of Georgina Sparks is the most cartoonishly apparent representation of The Trachtenberg Effect of all. Georgina has appearances early in “Gossip Girl,” but becomes a fixture in the show’s final seasons. She has a knack for appearing during season finales and dropping huge bombshells, most notably that she was pregnant with Dan’s child, which turned out to be a lie. Throughout the show, Georgina is presented as a manipulative sociopath, even rivaling Blair in her viciousness.

So what do we take from all of this? Basically, when you see Michelle Trachtenberg making appearance towards the end of your favorite show, get ready for the shit to hit the fan.