You know that part in Pet Sematary where Fred Gwynne says “Sometimes dead is better?” That’s how I think I feel about the 2021 Gossip Girl reboot. The new series takes place 10+ years after the original Gossip Girl, keeping it in the same universe. Freshman Zoya Lott (Whitney Peak) receives a scholarship to Constance Billard. While there, she seizes the opportunity to get to know her estranged half-sister, Julien Calloway (Jordan Alexander). Julien’s a model… or an influencer.. or something, I – I don’t really know. It’s super vague about the whole thing.
Julien’s friend group are characters so bland I won’t name them individually. All I know is that they are rude, entitled, self-centered brats who would drive Gandhi himself into a violent rage. The teachers of the school, who have had enough of their shenanigans decide to bring back a modern, Instagram-based Gossip Girl blog in hopes of scaring them into not being complete monsters.
From the get-go, these young characters are completely intolerable. The original characters weren’t angels or anything, but they were at least relatable. They weren’t openly rude to their teachers and calling them “poor” to their faces. You cared about what happened to them. They were flawed characters who felt redeemable. You weren’t constantly hoping their teachers would snap and start pile driving them into desks. However, maybe this is the intention. Without this characterization, there would be no motivation for the heroes. Yes, I am 100% calling their teachers heroes… which leads to my next point.
I have absolutely no idea who I’m supposed to be rooting for. I know that the teachers are out of line by taking photos of minors and spilling their personal drama on the internet. But these kids are going to be running multimillion-dollar corporations and have not even the slightest sense of empathy for other people. Why do I care if high school drama that eventually won’t matter inconveniences their day? If you were to drop those twerps into my old high school, they’d be beaten up before first period.
Other reviewers have called out the show’s bad acting and writing, but I’ve been around my Gen-Z cousins. The age group really does kind of come off as that emotionless. This leads me to believe that maybe millennials just aren’t the target audience. This would be okay, but the references and pop culture nods in the show wouldn’t be familiar to Gen-Z at all. So, who exactly is this show for?
I like some of the direct nods to the original series, as it makes it possible for the original cast to drop in for a cameo. But then we have the same problem Girl Meets World had, where we start to care more about the original series characters’ B-stories than the stories surrounding the newer cast. With no characters having any connection to the cast, even a Chuck Bass return could feel shoehorned given the context (or lack thereof).
The episode also has a problem with overplaying drama. The “big reveal” that’s supposed to tear the friend group apart was that Julien was on the board that decided whether or not her sister would receive a scholarship to Constance Billard. I get why Zoya would be upset. She’ll never know if she got the scholarship by merit or nepotism. But the friend group making a big deal over it just seemed very unnecessary. Why do they care so much? Are these the stakes? Is this what the show is going to be?
Overall, I really don’t know what to think of the first episode. I don’t know if I’m legitimately curious about what will happen next because of good writing, or if the cliffhanger ending is bringing out my nosy side. Maybe it will be interesting for a season or two. I just don’t see the show progressing any further than that. – Derek Flores
Gossip Girl is available for stream on HBO Max.
The show stars Whitney Peak, Jordan Alexander, Emily Alyn Lind, Thomas Doherty, Eli Brown, Zion Moreno, and Evan Mock.