By Emma Kidger
Gossip Girl here, your one and only source into the scandalous lives of Manhattan’s newest elite. While fans were left content with the “happily ever after” lives of Blair Waldorf and Serena Van der Woodsen, during the finale of the drama series in 2012, feelings of ease came to an end this year. No one could have expected such a turn of events until HBO max announced a reboot of the show. With a whole new cast and the old plot of the original series thrown out the window, the newest Gossip Girl released its pilot July 8.
The scene is set at the same high school and same city as seen first in 2007, except there are almost no lunches on the steps of the Met. And, even worse, no Nate Archibald. While the posh kids of Manhattan let their ego create an unrealistic school environment where the students rule the teachers, one faculty member speaks up and revists news of the past and Dan Humphresy’s old persona. To try and get the teachers back at the top of the school social pyramid at Constance Billard School, a group of teachers decide to recreate a 2021 edition of the infamous gossiper: Gossip Girl. Focusing on a certain group of students who loosely resemble characters of the original series, the students of Constance hear all the gossip, as we usually do, on Instagram.
From Instagram stories and social media blasts, we get the inside scoop of students dealing with various family dynamics, the trials of friendships or relationships, and the evil role social media has on exposing students’ lives. The writers of the newest Gossip Girl are definitely not holding back on revealing real world issues especially when dealing with discussions of racism and privilege, whereas the last series focused on the issues of not having the perfect pair of red Jimmy Choos to wear. Don’t get me wrong, I loved watching Blair and Serena shop till they dropped, but the storyline definitely didn’t make me feel like I could relate to their troubles. The rebooted Gossip Girl updated the plot to a more realistic standard, however has it been successfully executed? The answer is no.
While the writers and producers definitely revamped the culture of the once oblivious attitude in the original hit series, they didn’t necessarily get rid of the rich upper east side perspective on teenage life. Their method of disclosing the old culture in turn allowed them to make the characters face issues no one actually goes through in the real world. For example, one of the lead characters, Jullien Callaway, goes through episodes worried about expanding her platform as an influencer. Another character, Zoya Lott, often becomes concerned on what to wear to a symphony concert but 5 minutes later somehow gets a dress from Versace. Instead of just letting go of the “I can’t handle my popularity” or the classic “my parents don’t understand my shopping addiction” ideologies these teens of Manhattan always seem to have, they decided to hide it with serious societal issues which don’t really ever get solved. The mix of unrealistic teenage wealth and privilege while trying to solve real issues just doesn’t mix and creates a very dark and depressing storyline. At least the old drama had a few jokes about old fashion trends and happy endings of the Van der Woodsen family finally getting along.
In addition, the whole basic plot that surrounded the original Gossip Girl was also thrown out the window in the writing process. The thing that kept me watching Chuck Bass buy yet again another hotel was to try and discover who the biggest gossiper in New York was. This time, in the reboot, we already know the gossipers are the teachers off and therefore the nothing that keeps me wanting to watch the scandalous lives of Constance’s finest students.
All in all, I miss the frivolous and cheesy lives of Manhattan’s elite. The reboot of one of the most talked about 2000’s TV series, turned the once unrealistic but addicting lives of two girls and their lifelong friends, into a dark and pessimistic plot on privileged high schoolers. By reforming the once mysterious Gossip Girl into a gossip teacher just makes the storyline of the schools dynamic even more unappealing, especially when comparing it to the original. Needless to say the reboot definitely does not live up to the reputation of the older drama series. Will any reboot or spin off really ever live up to the original? That’s one secret I’ll never tell.