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HBO Max's Gossip Girl reboot is an expensive, tired retread: "It’s just the same old show with a face-lift and a bigger, streaming-friendly budget"

  • Vox

    The new Gossip Girl, created by original series executive producer Joshua Safran, "feels less like a continuation than like a remix: The exact same set of characteristics that animated the original cast have been scattered merrily through a new and photogenic cast of newcomers, who are, in keeping with the times, less white and less straight than the originals," says Constance Grady. "Which means very little about Gossip Girl feels new. It’s just the same old show with a face-lift and a bigger, streaming-friendly budget. Cross Dan’s judgy social conscience with Nate’s prince-of-the-Upper-East-Side status and you get Obie (Eli Brown), the wealthy anti-gentrification activist torn between Julien and Zoya. Julien combines Blair’s killer social instincts with Serena’s effortless fashion sense, while Blair’s ice princess primness goes to Julien’s best friend Audrey (Emily Alyn Lind). You could practically draw a graph. Frankly, the original Gossip Girl did not really have enough personality traits to sustain its first cast, let alone a new one. (Disclosure: I come to this new show as a viewer who found the original to run a maddening spectrum of nearly brilliant to unwatchably awful, but I also watched almost every episode, with the exception of the final season.) The new show is reiterating the same set of tired tropes as the first, so even four episodes in, it has acquired an exhausting sameness. You feel you’ve already seen all of it before." Grady adds: "While Gossip Girl has savviness galore when it comes to the complexities of clout-chasing, when it comes to making its characters feel like real and interesting people, it has no idea what it’s doing. Which wouldn’t be so bad if Gossip Girl didn’t have aspirations to make you care about its characters and to develop some sort of heart...The new Gossip Girl careens back and forth between giving its audience frothy, minutely observed rich-people hijinks, and serving up shopworn and sentimental clichés about teen soap archetypes with the apparent belief that viewers will embrace them with a ready hand. That’s a problem the original Gossip Girl ran into over and over again, too. Except in that case, the show had a secret weapon: Leighton Meester. Meester was cast as Blair, original Gossip Girl’s ice queen, but she developed into the beating heart of the show, memorably described by another character as a '95-pound, doe-eyed, bon-mot-tossing, designer-label-whoring package of girly evil.'...So really, did anyone ever want more Gossip Girl? Or did they just want more of Leighton Meester saying bitchy things in a variety of fetching headbands?"


    • The new Gossip Girl stars lack charisma while the show looks more like Succession than the original series: "The new version, from original Gossip Girl producer Joshua Safran, had a tall order to fill: updating the series to reflect the socially conscious mores of today while still having tawdry, elitist fun," says Richard Lawson. "I thought they might be able to pull it off; the show’s existence on HBO Max, where you can swear and do drugs and hook up more freely, was promise enough of a satisfyingly risqué series. From what I’ve seen, though, Safran and his co-writers are stymied by the conundrum presented to them, rather than invigorated by it. The show is, indeed, very much attuned to contemporary political awareness and, yes, does also make an attempt at wickedness. But it gets the balance all wrong, taking its mission too seriously and thus sucking out all the fun. The show is shot in a drab, steely palette that looks more like Succession than the original Gossip Girl. Gone are the bright-hued ridiculousnesses of Blair Waldorf’s ornate costumery, the warm and golden tones of fabulous, well-lit restaurants and parties. Instead it’s all sleek and matte and cold. Most characters wear a lot of black, and the clubs and soirees they attend are tastefully minimalist. Gossip Girl is all about aesthetics, and while the 2.0 edition does make distinctive, perhaps even bold style choices, where’s the playfulness, the garish flourishes that helped give the 2007 edition its loopy camp? The performances are mostly lacking in that same way. All the young starlets certainly look the part, a gang of glamazons who cut sufficiently intimidating figures. The acting, though, is stiff, withdrawn, uncomfortable. It’s possible these actors are still settling in and that things will improve as the season wears on. After four episodes, though, one gets frustrated by the dearth of charisma, starved for a tartly delivered Leighton Meester zinger."
    • Gossip Girl's selling points of inclusive casting and overt queerness are by and large cosmetic, revolving around a pair of Black characters without acknowledging their Blackness: "The reboot dooms itself by placing non-white characters in clones of roles originated by a white cast and expecting viewers not to notice," says Melanie McFarland. "This robs them of the opportunity to create truly original personalities for the show and ensures they'll be walking similar loops to their predecessors – circles that eventually bored the audience. Julien is the Blair, of course, making Zoya Serena's equivalent. The circle expands predictably from there: Julien's boyfriend Obie (Eli Brown) is a mad scientist's project that crosses earnest writer Dan's DNA with that of forlorn rich boy Nate, and since he's dating one sister he's destined to drive a wedge between them. Julien's closest confidante Audrey (Emily Alyn Lind) merges Blair with Jenny Humprey's innocence and gives her a devoted boyfriend in Aki (Evan Mock), who acts as a sounding board for the group's charming version of the predatory Chuck Bass named, no joke, Max Wolfe (Thomas Doherty). Aside from wearing a moniker ripped straight out of a parody name generator, Doherty's character more closely emulates to the sexually omnivorous version of Chuck Bass presented in the books, and his charisma carries every scene he's in. Nevertheless, not even he can salvage some exceptionally dreadful writing and plot choices. Showrunner Joshua Safran worked on the first Gossip Girl, which should lend additional legitimacy to this new version instead of providing plausible theories as to why it rehashes threadbare twists from any number teen primetime soap classics. No joke, if you've watched any part of Beverly Hills, 90210 or its inferior reboot, or The O.C. or Pretty Little Liars, you can accurately map where every single crumb dropped in the pilot leads, which would be fine if the scenery flanking that path were interesting. But Safran quickly proves he can't outrun a problem created by the show's topmost innovation, in that he and the writers craft this Gossip Girl narrative around a pair of Black women without writing anything acknowledging their Blackness."
    • Gossip Girl feels like a meek attempt to keep pace with shows like Generation and Elite: "Not quite a bloated athlete past their peak, but definitely not a brand-redefining triumph, HBO Max’s reboot of Gossip Girl is half bland rehash of the soapy beats from the original series and half perplexing but semi-ambitious premise-overhaul that the series isn’t prepared to fully engage in," says Daniel Fienberg. "More than anything, this new Gossip Girl just feels behind the curve, a meek attempt to keep pace with shows like HBO Max’s Generation or Netflix’s Elite — shows that never would have existed in the first place without Gossip Girl." He adds: "Personally, I found the Gossip Girl twist (which isn’t a twist) to be the most interesting part of the new series, because it raises big sociological questions about the role social media plays as a tool of social control. If Gossip Girl were a smarter show, the premise would be a gateway for discussion of Michel Foucault and panopticism and a bunch of high-minded stuff that I’m very much aware nobody other than me would want. But Gossip Girl is not and has never been a smart show. Sometimes it’s a clever show and the cleverness here is dedicated to the usual relentless references to New York intelligentsia and pop cultural ephemera. So Gossip Girl remains a show that can build an entire episode around characters going to the new play by Jeremy O. Harris, and can wrangle a Harris cameo, but is not going to go deep on contemporary life as an ever-monitored prison."
    • Gossip Girl wants to be revolutionary, but it feels uneasy with its emptiness: "The show’s most appealing, fascinating, outright fun elements are the parts where it so clearly owns itself, enjoys itself, preens with one hand at the same time as it flips a casual bird with the other," says Kathryn VanArendonk. "And yet it also wants to be a revolution, and thinks it has to be one, even though it hasn’t the foggiest idea of what that revolution should be, or even who it should be against. Does it love these characters or loathe them? Should we the viewers do one or the other? Do we root for a teacher to devastate these teenagers? Does she even want to devastate them? What does a revolution look like when its battleground is a private-school courtyard and its weapons are teen relationship drama and private shame? It is fundamentally hollow at the core, frivolous and frothy, studded with sequins and infidelities and students who lust for their teachers (but gay!). It seems uneasy with that emptiness, but it lacks the desire or capability to backfill everything with earnestness or do-goodery, and some later scenes in the series where it attempts to suddenly find sincerity are among the worst, most cringeworthy parts of the four episodes provided to critics."
    • Gossip Girl proves that good trash is hard to make: "The good trash is scandalous, full of panache, eminently watchable, and light as a feather," says Linda Holmes. "It is untethered from boring realities about Carrie Bradshaw's rent, but recognizably based in human frailties like Carrie Bradshaw's inability to pick a good boyfriend over a bad one. It has an internal logic: wrongs are avenged, parties are disrupted, beautiful consenting adults rarely close the door on the possibility of having sex with each other, meanies can have a change of heart if they're really loved, and it only rains when people need to get stuck indoors to dry off naked. The good trash is not mean, it is not pretentious, and it does not put on airs. When the CW released a series of ads before Gossip Girl's second season in 2008 that showed people in various passionate embraces and gleefully highlighted press blurbs of the show as 'a nasty piece of work,' 'every parent's nightmare,' and 'mind-blowingly inappropriate,' the network was saying one very simple thing. It was saying: Join us, won't you? For we are the good trash." Holmes adds: "And now, HBO Max — which also has all six seasons of the original GG — has undertaken a sequel, a Gen-Z sequel, defined in part by some laudable intentions. The original Gossip Girl had a lot going for it for the audience it reached, but it was very white and very straight, which is blessedly not what television aimed at younger viewers looks like anymore. This is certainly not the first effort, nor will it be the last, to port an old property into a generationally different setting, and the record of success and failure is spotty and unpredictable. Around the same time as Gossip Girl, there was even a reboot of Beverly Hills, 90210, one of GG's spiritual ancestors, which lasted for several seasons, but lacked GG's impact. But the rebooted One Day at a Time was great, and it met that desire to broaden the world you saw in the original, incorporating not only a Latinx family, but a queer teenager and her nonbinary significant other. The new Saved by the Bell was pretty good, too — certainly better than a lot of critics expected it to be. But the impulse to do these generational updates is not enough. The presence of smartphones, Black students and bisexuality doesn't solve story problems; it creates broader and better paths to follow, which don't matter if you don't travel them. And what's lacking here is any coherent and compelling story for these kids to cover on the group text. When people wonder why reboots keep happening, it's this kind of project they have in mind: an update for an update's sake, an intellectual-property extension that lacks a clear creative impulse."
    • Gossip Girl may be too woke for its own good: "This progressiveness is great when it comes to pushing the genre forward, especially since it has the power to impact how its core demographic views these topics, and because it hasn’t always been that great with the diversity factor," says Whitney Friedlander. "But this Gossip Girl’s push-pull relationship with its forbearer is clearly something the writers have been fighting with—and not just because Zoya is mocked for wearing a headband on her first day of school (a wink-wink to the audience that things have changed since Blair taught us which side of the face the bow goes on). Although there’s nudity, cursing, and suggestive marketing material, the show’s plot lines like walking red carpets, dueling parties, cruising bathhouses, and finding out parents’ secret romantic trysts seem, well, safe. And the characters follow in the grand tradition set forth by Amy Sherman-Palladino and Kevin Williamson of kids talking like a certain sect of pop-culture obsessed 40-somethings (ugh, Audrey moans to Julien at one point, 'Jameela Jamil just defended you'). Even the casting decisions verge on Beverly Hills, 90210 territory. Tavi Gevinson, a former teen influencer in her own right, plays a teacher in this story. In real life, she’s a couple years younger than Alexander."
    • Gossip Girl hurts itself by trying to be everything for everyone: "It would be a choice to play to the older Millennials who grew up with the original, tickling their fancy for nostalgia, but what doesn’t work about the reboot is that it is struggling to be everything for everyone," says Megan Reynolds. "There’s no doubt that the teens these days are more well-versed in concepts like dismantling the patriarchy, gentrification, and wealth inequality, but I have a hard time believing that they would speak about these topics with such clarity. Tech is now an intrinsic part of the way the new cast lives; a compromising photo is AirDropped during a fashion show; teens are well-versed in the intricacies of personal security, and use Signal for sexting. Perhaps the most realistic part of the entire enterprise thus far is that Gossip Girl, when she returns from dormancy, is still just a hair behind, operating not by mysterious push alert sent to a Blackberry or Sidekick but by a tag on Instagram, instead of TikTok, Snapchat, or wherever other teen malfeasance flourishes these days."
    • Gossip Girl is brilliant and a lot of fun despite the wooden acting: "Is it good? Was Gossip Girl ever?" says Kevin Fallon. "It doesn’t so much toe the line between soap opera and camp as it wobbles so dramatically that you fear it will fall to an ugly, violent death. Save for a handful of dynamic performances—Thomas Doherty’s bisexual chaos agent Max has us wondering how any of us ever swooned for Ed Westwick’s Chuck Bass—the acting is egregiously wooden. I suppose that should be nostalgic for fans of the original show…But here’s the thing. Like any great legacy institution, perhaps like the very gilded-cage Manhattan private schools it salaciously voyeurs, the new Gossip Girl fastidiously holds on to the traditions of its past. Serena van der Woodsen, Blair Waldorf, Nate Archibald, and Dan Humphrey are immediately name-checked and paid homage. The series imitates the madcap way those kids' drama felt urgent and real in a heightened, ludicrous environment, creating a soothingly ridiculous tone that is instantly recognizable. Yet in 2021, one obviously can’t replicate that original series’ approach to privilege, wealth, and indulgence, one that skipped through escapism, exploitation, and even celebration depending on the episode or mood. We’re too evolved for that now. Sure, the leaning in when it comes to racial, sexual, and gender diversity might seem performative or excessive at first glance—hey, it’s those legacy institutions again! But whatever else there is to say about the new Gossip Girl, its charge into the volatile discourse around those issues is confident and clever."
    • Gossip Girl is too cold to be enjoyable: "With the exception of Max and Zoya at some points, none of these characters appear to have fun at all," says Alexis Nedd. "It's not that they're especially high strung or sad, they're just kind of there. The writing is clever, if somewhat defanged from the original's '00s-era venomous bite, but somewhere between the acting and the direction the first four episodes provided for review fail to make a case for following these people's stories. Some of the young cast clearly struggles with the show's humor, since they mumble their lines with inflections that suggest they don't understand what they're saying is a joke or a reference, and most of the scenes are shot from a distant, grayish perspective that strips the color and interest from these students' supposedly vibrant lives...There is still room for the new Gossip Girl to get interesting. Even though this version wants to skew more towards a Euphoria-type HBO drama than its soapy CW predecessor, it's not too late to dangle someone off a building or have one of the characters framed for murder. But until Gossip Girl remembers why the original was good and injects these new characters with some pep, this show remains in the shadow of the girl we knew we loved."
    • Gossip Girl manages to be a soapy and ridiculous as ever while being socially conscious: "Compared to the hollow feminism of something like Netflix’s Sabrina, Gossip Girl’s 'socially conscious' edge is thoughtfully done," says Gavia Baker-Whitelaw. "Exposed to a culture of Twitter cancellations, Notes App apologies, and public debates about sexism and discrimination, it makes sense for these kids to be more politically clued-in than someone from the Paris Hilton generation. They’re also much more adept at controlling their own public image, with Zoya and Julien grappling over different ways to portray themselves 'authentically' and gain power in the process. But that doesn’t mean the show is a hard-hitting drama, or that its main characters are better people than the generation that came before. The new Gossip Girl simply updates the original formula, offering a constant barrage of interpersonal drama and implausibly witty repartee. In other words, it’s definitely still Gossip Girl."
    • Gossip Girl is brilliant and awkward in the way it updates the outdated original: "The new Gossip Girl offers updated takes on the same pleasures that made the original a sensation: a gorgeous, charismatic cast that pulls off a daring trick, making you love characters who often do bad things. And this time, they’re far more diverse in ethnicity and sexuality," says Jennifer Armstrong , adding: "The new version — created by Joshua Safran, who wrote and executive produced on the original — perfectly revives GG’s writing voice, which Kate describes as 'like if E.M. Forster got roofied by Dorothy Parker and Jacqueline Susann.' Whether or not Gossip Girl ultimately stands among those great classics, this glittery, engaging and occasionally heartfelt new version proves it has staying power a decade-plus on."
    • One of Gossip Girl’s big problems is that it seems equally aimed at new fans and classic fans: "Teen dramas are hard, and aimed at a fickle audience," says Joshua Rivera. "A lot of times, they succeed because of their messier aspects. One of Gossip Girl’s big problems is that it seems equally aimed at new fans, and classic fans. (References to the first incarnation of the show abound in the new series.) Maybe it can pull off that highwire act, but eventually it might have to pick a side, and who knows which is the right one. Mostly, though? Its indecision is boring."
    • Despite being aware of privilege, Gossip Girl still puts the rich on a pedestal: "As in the first series, the real snake in the grass—the character driven to immoral distraction, selling out friends and acquaintances for the high of putting rich children in their place with a bon mot notable rich person Edith Wharton would admire—is a member of the lame-o middle class," says Willa Paskin. "For all that the new iteration has a heightened awareness of privilege, the show’s class politics remain borderline aristocratic. On Gossip Girl, those to the manner born just have that je ne sais quoi, a comfort in certain spaces and settings, a certainty they deserve watching and noticing that the series shares. Having money gives these high schoolers a rarefied, strange, challenging life, and on the show it’s the people who don’t have it, who want it, who have their face pressed up to the glass, who get warped. But the show can’t extend this insight as far as it should go. In American life, no matter how much money a person has, there’s no one who doesn’t want more of it. We’re warped all the way to the top"
    • Gossip Girl is a middling, frustrating if bingeable homage to the original series: "Even with the should-be-standard changes, the new Gossip Girl falls into a weird limbo – an ode to a teen era barely past, updated for an audience that probably prefers TikToks to privilege porn, whose copious pop culture references wink mostly to viewers in their late 20s or 30s," says Adrian Horton. "It’s a middling, frustrating if bingeable homage, too guarded an IP property to have the (albeit disingenuous) ambition of HBO Max’s Generation nor the grit of HBO’s Euphoria, a genuine hit with real teenagers." Horton adds: "That being said, the only real requirement for a show like Gossip Girl is that it is watchable. By that measure, the new Gossip Girl stumbles, but hot drama is hot drama. To quote one anonymous blogger, you know you love it, though a clumsy homage straining for relevance isn’t likely to court a new generation of devotees."
    • Gossip Girl suffers from the streaming-era problem of burning through too much plot, resulting in half-baked storylines: "In addition to overloading their shows with too many characters, streaming dramas often rely too heavily on speed-plotting," says Kristen Baldwin. "Gossip Girl burns through more story in the first four episodes than the original did before February sweeps (Google it, kids) — and as a result, too much of that story feels half-baked. Soapy dramas are nothing without suspension of disbelief, but 'just go with it' developments need to be the garnish, not the main course. Episode four features one of the funniest character introductions of the year. (Teeny-tiny spoiler: This person is connected to the OG GG.) By the end of the absurdly action-filled hour, though, the writers have shark-jumped the intriguing newcomer into generic agent-of-chaos territory — another opportunity sacrificed to the Attention Deficit gods."
    • Gossip Girl *does* make a case for itself as it tries to wrestle the spotlight back from the shows that were inspired by the original: "On the one hand, nine years hardly feels like enough time to merit a full reconsideration; Gossip Girl is recent enough to remain culturally relevant even without new episodes to rekindle our interest," says Alison Herman. "(Not that recency has stopped even quicker turnarounds, like the forthcoming Dexter.) On the other, so much has changed since the finale that it’s entirely reasonable to ask whether Gossip Girl, as a concept, even makes sense in 2021. Rather than trying to reconcile antipathy toward the 1 percent with ogling their lifestyle, or a desire for inclusion with an inherently exclusive setting, why not start fresh? It’s not like Gossip Girl lacks for successors. Penn Badgley’s You is a hit thriller, but also a delicious meta-commentary on Gossip Girl’s nonsensical ending. Unmasking Dan Humphrey as the anonymous blogger made him look like a psychopathic stalker; You asks what would happen if a show made a bookish incel type a psychopath from the start. The Spanish soap Elite, meanwhile, already has the queer overtones and modern drama (religion! incarceration! HIV!) that the new Gossip Girl aims to introduce. Its fourth season aired on Netflix mere weeks ago. In light of its own long shadow, the burden is now on Gossip Girl to wrestle the spotlight back from its now-peers. The revival, it turns out, does make a compelling case for itself. That doesn’t mean it’s without major flaws—only that it fulfills the sine qua non of the modern revival: some sort of purpose besides cynically recycling IP. Gossip Girl first aired on the CW, and before the pandemic prolonged production and delayed its release, Safran’s reimagining was planned as a star attraction for the newly launched HBO Max. More than a year after Max’s debut, Gossip Girl is still a high-budget tentpole, stuffed with celebrity cameos (Princess Nokia) and glossy locations (a 15th birthday party held at the famed Webster Hall). It’s also a sincerely novel take on the source material. Much to critics’ chagrin, that take isn’t one HBO Max initially wanted to publicize in advance, which was a baffling choice that forced many advance reviews to skirt around the basic premise of the resurrected show. That’s a shame, because this premise is far more compelling, not to mention truly progressive, than mere self-awareness."
    • The new Gossip Girl has a serious drama problem: There isn’t nearly enough of it: "Lost amid the series’ glossy sheen depicting the modern world of Manhattan money is the angry anarchist throwing bricks through penthouse windows," says Ben Travers. "By and large, the kids are quite kind. The titular blog (now on Instagram) is often conflicted about what to share and why they’re sharing it. The class divide, first embodied by Dan Humphrey (Penn Badgley), is even less noticeable now, despite the urgency felt in the real world. Is this not 2021? Is America not in the midst of a class war, fueled by the 1 percent’s immoral greed and racist traditionalism? Is HBO Max not the sister network of HBO, home to TV’s seething satire of the uber-wealthy (and only good show) Succession? Through four episodes, the new Gossip Girl is perplexingly nice, raising issues that are far too neat, predictable, and tame. It’s reluctant to engage in the high school social struggles that made its predecessor so relatable, and it’s not eager to understand how these woke teens engage with a world rightly suspicious of their inherited power. You’d be forgiven for thinking the reboot took a trip back to more peaceful times, if not for the fact that even less rebellious eras still surfaced enough pressing concerns to create real drama."
    • Gossip Girl takes itself too seriously -- it lacks the fun and comedy of the original: "To say that the original was an implausible cornball melodrama elevated by the soulful charisma of its frenemy leads — Blake Lively‘s Serena and Leighton Meester’s Blair — is only a dig if you have something against cornball melodrama," says Robert Lloyd. "(It was Dynasty in teen couture.) But this Gossip Girl is not as powerful a charm machine as its predecessor, even with first-series writer and executive producer Joshua Safran in charge. Perhaps it’s too aggressively glamorous: Expensive corn can seem like overkill, where a more modest production can read as authentic even when the story is ridiculous. Or perhaps it’s that the new show, which premieres Thursday, too often seems to take itself as seriously as the characters take themselves. One of the advantages of the original is that it’s obviously a comedy, and fun." Lloyd also says Gossip Girl already feels outdated. "Still, the notion that public exposure of their antics will somehow steer these rich young rowdies toward responsibility and respect feels quixotic, given that public exposure is the air they breathe," he says. "Traditional notions of privacy and public decorum had crumbled well before Gossip Girl came along, and though social media is explicitly involved in the drama, stories in which characters alter their behavior because they are 'losing followers' are already as old hat as ... hats. As before, they’re going to do what they’re going to do, whatever an anonymous blogger or social media account has to say about it."
    • The biggest sin of this Gossip Girl is that the writers seem to understand little of their subjects: "The characters don't act or sound like teenagers ('don't straight-shame me' is among the most asinine lines)," says Kelly Lawler. "The use of social media doesn't feel particularly hip, and even the adult characters are stiff and nonsensical rather than fully formed humans. Except for the sex-crazed Max, played by Doherty with a bit of charm and allure, none of the characters have romantic or platonic chemistry. They are akin to the fake robot influencers created by crafty coders – automatons that say what their puppet masters think are all the right things but are very wrong indeed. There is something so pathologically deranged about the reboot that it inevitably will win some fans. They'll come for its flaws, for the messy narrative, humorously bad acting and absurd plot twists. But this is not the kind of show that deserves acclaim for its inanity. It should not be rewarded for a plot in which adults' behavior verges on child abuse, for acting that's so terrible that community theaters would be appalled, nor for being one more mismanaged attempt to portray Generation Z as entitled, overly woke brats who get what's coming to them."
    • Tavi Gevinson's Gossip Girl character does have some superficial overlaps with her own story: “At the same time that I’ve benefited from this cultural obsession with youth that became such a big part of my story, I feel very aware of the traps of it,” says Gevinson, who at 25 is a fashion veteran, media mogul and veteran Broadway actor. “The fact I gained a kind of public persona at the same time that I was on the threshold of tweendom…the two are really tied up in my mind—the sacrifice of growing up and then the sacrifice of being publicly known in some way that you can’t really reverse.”
    • Why Gossip Girl revealed the big twist right away: “I just felt like it was very important for the audience to know off the top that this show is different from the first time,” says showrunner Joshua Safran. “I wanted people to know from the top that the show was different, that the show wasn’t going to be what you saw the first time around. I also feel like it’s very important not to do the exact same show again because if I wanted to do the original show, we would’ve brought the original cast back—they wouldn’t have done it because they have careers of their own and families. But because it’s not the original cast, it had to be a new show and this twist makes the show something new, something different, kind of even almost stands on its own while also having all of the DNA of the original and all of the twists and stuff that you love.”
    • Taylor Momsen and other original Gossip Girl alums offer their advice to the HBO Max reboot stars
    • Here are 10 problematic moments from the original Gossip Girl that the reboot shouldn't attempt to re-create
    • How the reboot's characters compare to the original: Jenny + Serena + Vanessa = Zoya
    • With 15 series regulars, showrunner Joshua Safran compares the new Gossip Girl to Downton Abbey: The show is elevated; it's more sophisticated and it's bigger," says Safran. "It's more like Downton Abbey in terms of sprawling cast and one event every episode. Being a millionaire at a private school back in 2007 is so much different than now. We're dealing in global billions." He adds: "In 2007, there wasn't Zillow where you could see how much your parents paid for your apartments. Now, 9-year-olds can go online and find out who donated to the Republican Committee. That really shifted a lot of dynamics for the teens on this show, because they are aware." 
    • Safran wanted the reboot to be authentic: “It was very important to tell the story more authentically for our time,” he says. “It was very important, if you’re doing a show about power and privilege, to actually look at how that affects all people, whether you’re queer, whether you’re Black, whether you’re older—that’s really what we wanted Gossip Girl to do this time around, because Gossip Girl herself is the great leveler.”

    TOPICS: Gossip Girl (2021 Series), HBO Max, Gossip Girl (2007 Series), Jordan Alexander, Joshua Safran, Tavi Gevinson, Whitney Peak

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