I have watched 423 hours of Gossip Girl. Hypnotized by the sky-high penthouses and unbelievable scandals, I’ve replayed all six seasons five times, memorizing the lead characters’ every impulse and go-to stilettos by heart. I spent my tween and teen years picturing my high school career with an Upper East Side backdrop. That being said, my thirteen-year-old self would have never guessed that Gossip Girl would be reimagined, but 14 years after the premiere, Gossip Girl is returning to HBO Max.
There are some obvious, unsurprising similarities since the original producers–Josh Schwartz, Stephanie Savage, and Joshua Safran–are on the reboot team. The series will, once again, be filmed in glorious Manhattan, and paparazzi shots have revealed clamoring at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s steps, which has been used by the show in the past to echo the social hierarchy of their private school Constance Billard. In homage, Kristen Bell, the voice of Gossip Girl, will be the only member of the original cast in the reboot.
The reboot will not be a continuation of the original characters’ lives but will begin with a fresh set of high school juniors. The cast is more diverse than the original with POC leads and includes more LQBTQ+ storylines. These changes are meant to reflect a more realistic and inclusive cast of characters than that in the original. Gossip Girl marks main actors Savannah Lee Smith and Evan Mock’s first major acting roles. The other leads have been featured in a variety of series—Tavi Gevinson appeared in Fox’s Scream Queens, Thomas Doherty in HBO’s Catherine the Great, and Emily Alyn Lind in the ABC series Revenge. There will be ten, one hour episodes in the first season, premiering in July 2021. No longer set in the early 2000s, Gossip Girl herself will take advantage of 2021’s technological advances and go beyond her outdated blogs to gather and post her rumors. The series will tackle contemporary issues among high schoolers such as the dangers of social media.
In middle school, the show influenced my expectations for prom, applying to college, and romantic relationships. Gossip Girl prepared me for the toils of high school, loading me with an arsenal of tips to combat senior mean girls and dodge immature boys. I would confidently walk past upperclassmen like queen bee Blair and would copy Serena’s boho-chic fashion by accessorizing my school uniform. I was not the only one obsessed.
Still—as I am now a rising senior at university, preparing to enter the real world, this new series won’t be as relatable to me. I no longer live in a plaid uniform surrounded by dozens of pony-tailed Catherine Annes and Anna Catherines. Further, I am distracted by the influx of countless television series crowding my Netflix queue, and my preference of entertainment has matured.
Yet, if I asked any girl in the MSB Commons this fall, I would bet at least one in three would watch the reboot premiere to reminisce on high school and escape the reality of adulting.If I do end up watching, it will be out of a deep love for the original show. I must figure out who reigns as queen bee and who takes over as Gossip Girl. However, I predict the reboot will mostly be watched by middle and high school students, not young adults like myself. After all, rebooting a TV show is risky. After one or two episodes, if it is not as exceptional as the original, the audience often loses interest. The constant comparison to its iconic original series will mean that the Gossip Girl reboot has tall boots to fill in order to retain my loyalty.