In 2021, it's not unusual to put your problematic behavior online, regardless of age. "The thrill of a teen drama such as Gossip Girl used to be in watching the kind of misbehavior that plays out behind doors closed to elders," says Sophie Gilbert. "Now the doors are wide open, and everyone’s watching everyone." Gilbert adds that "there’s little malice in HBO Max’s rebooted Gossip Girl, because the nature of teenage scandal has changed, something that dooms the show even before it rolls out its robotic characters and their dreary schemes. The CW’s first adaptation of Gossip Girl debuted in 2007, the same year as the iPhone, and although its Upper East Side–set protagonists informed on one another—texting pictures and snippets of sightings to the show’s titular blogger—they hadn’t yet been habituated to inform on themselves, via Instagram and TikTok and the confessional tendencies of the extremely online. Blair Waldorf (played with irresistible insouciance by Leighton Meester) could be awful because being awful wasn’t yet a cancelable offense. Now, though, the specter of Gossip Girl hovers over the students of Constance Billard School more menacingly than before—less a bitchy BFF, more Big Brother. Instead of watching for hookups, drugs, eating disorders (the kinds of things teenagers have long since destigmatized), she’s on the lookout for behavior that her readers might term 'problematic.' The added menace is, in part, because of the reboot’s nonsensical premise....So who is this cynical, glossy goat rodeo supposed to be for? It’s hard to imagine actual teenagers recognizing their lives within it, given that every time the kids in the show are on their phone, they’re scrolling through Net-a-Porter instead of TikTok." As Gilbert points out, Gossip Girl reboot creator Joshua Safran "is in his late 40s, which is maybe why the reboot rarely connects with its characters; instead, it seems to feel faintly sorry for these icons of doomed youth, as constrained by their self-presentation as they are...The characters in Gossip Girl 2.0 are aware of the fact that their fixation with coming off the right way online is messing with their mind—'I spent so much time putting forward this idea of me that I just forgot who I was a little,' Julien says in one scene—but rather than use this knowledge to figure out their actual interests, they rotely turn revelation into yet more content."