“HELLO Upper East Siders, Gossip Girl here.”
No other phrase takes me to my youth (OK, late teens and early 20s) than this iconic episode opener from Gossip Girl. I devoured the show when it aired almost a decade ago, making sure to get the freshest episode, hours after it aired in the US.
When it ended, I was already a young journalist and had written about the show and why – when it ended – it had become a shoddy mess.
So I was a bit nervous when the reboot was announced. Did we really need it? Well, nostalgia is a trap and I have gone head-first into the show, like Harry Potter used to do when Albus Dumbledore asked him to do anything dangerous.
The Gossip Girl reboot is set more than a decade after the original show ended. There’s new people, the Gossip Girl website is dead, and the scions of New York’s wealthy families still rule the city. But, this time, the characters are woke, feminists, sexually fluid, and very much all about the influencer life.
There’s Julien, who is the influencer who gets dumped by her woke billionaire boyfriend Obie, almost as soon as he spots Zoya, who is a newcomer in town. But there’s a plot twist, I won’t spoil for you.
Julien has her best friend Audrey, who is bored in her relationship with Aki. They both have feelings for one of their friends, Max. Drama.
As a nod to the original, Julien has two minions, Luna and Monet, who are trying to do everything to make sure that Julien remains on top of the influencer food chain. And I mean, everything, including cyber warfare, with the help of the son of an original cast member whose initials are GS.
And then there are the teachers, who, after being fed up with their wealthy students getting away with murder, resuscitate Gossip Girl to kind of bring some sense of order and fear in their students. And this time they use Instagram instead of the website.
That the teachers are Gossip Girl is really creepy, especially since some of the things they do should get them fired and banned from ever being teachers. It’s an odd decision to make, especially since they could have easily used one of the main characters to be Gossip Girl.
It does provide some layered DMC (deep meaningful conversation) on the ethics of the teachers being this feared social media character, who can easily character assassinate and bully the students.
What made Gossip Girl interesting was how the creators were not afraid to go for the jugular, and also blur the lines between adult and child relationships. That happens on the reboot again and it’s still uncomfortable to watch.
There are some choices the writers and director make that wastes the characters and takes away their urgency, and there are under-utilised characters who could take the story further and make it edge of your seat viewing. But there are also some, light-hearted moments as well, that also throwback to the iconic moments of the original series.
Gossip Girl is currently streaming on Showmax.
This article first appeared in Sunday Insider, Dec 5, 2021