Another failed attempt at making the classic into a contemporary? Perhaps, but the spotlight is back on the Upper East Side, and no-one is safe from the all-seeing eyes. Things may have changed, but the drama is just as juicy – XOXO…Gossip Girl.
A reboot is never easy, just take a look at our review of HBO’s return to the classic Perry Mason for evidence. And the HBO Max reboot of the 2007 Gossip Girl landing on BBC iPlayer certainly has its own teething issues, but is it still worth a watch? We would say so.
Viewers will be tuning in to see polished platform loafers, secret smooching, and bitchy bullies – and the reboot does not disappoint. It’s teeny, it’s snappy and it’s opulent, and with a vast array of fresh-faced characters, the opportunities are endless when it comes to plot progression.
The first six seasons of Gossip Girl followed the lives of the Upper East Side’s young socialites. Watching these impossibly rich, well-dressed high school students cause chaos in both their academic and personal lives never gets old – Serena and her on-and-off best friend Blair fighting over boys and booze, Nate and his toxic relationship with his criminal father, Chuck Bass and his squinted glare, Dan Humphrey’s reputation as the poor one despite living in a huge Brooklyn loft… we live for this ridiculousness.
However for the 2021 version, The Washington Post’s Sonia Rao argues that “The original Gossip Girl relished in its opulence”, savouring “a certain level of ridiculousness” whilst “the reboot seems keen on continuing down the self-serious path”, much to its own demise. Where the original had us indulgently clinking glasses with silver-spooned brats who we loved to hate (and secretly just loved – especially you, Chuck Bass), the latest season is sympathetic to its characters, as Lucy Mangan in The Guardian suggests “fatally earnest” and therefore “instantly doomed”.
Rao poses an important question, alluding to the fatal floor of the remake – “How do you make a soapy television show about out-of-touch Upper East Siders for a generation said to be more socially conscious than ever before?” Where the tone-deaf gimmicks of the original could fly with a noughties audience the remake is geared more towards a new generation of Upper East Siders, a generation which cringes at flashy wealth and celebrates social equality – and we don’t blame them.
Perhaps it’s time that Gossip Girl lost its playfulness and got a little more progressive. Afterall, as James Jackson proposes in The Times, the remake can still be “rich and bitchy, but will Gen Z even care?” Sometimes, change is no bad thing.