The Gossip Girl reboot is a wild ride: a season one review


The cast of Gossip Girl sits on the steps of the MET.

“You know you love me, XOXO, Gossip Girl.”
The signature farewell of the anonymous gossip blogger that terrorized teens from the Upper East Side is a phrase well known to fans of pop culture and teen shows. The iconic CW series, Gossip Girl, took viewers on a whirlwind of emotions for six seasons and created characters, fashion, and storylines that are still being talked about today.

In 2021, nine years after the original Gossip Girl ended, HBO Max decided to pick up the series for a reboot. A whole new cast of characters, a new story, and a new Gossip Girl made their debut on July 8th in the pilot episode “Just Another Girl on the MTA”.

(Warning! Season 1 spoilers from this point onwards.)

The main plot revolves around two formerly estranged half-sisters from drastically different worlds: Julien Calloway (Jordan Alexander), a popular fashion influencer and daughter of a famous producer, and Zoya Lott (Whitney Peak), a not-so-rich transfer student from Buffalo who is suspiciously on a scholarship with her sister’s last name. Their dads hate each other due to a love triangle with their deceased mother; they were kept apart for their entire lives. But through social media, they began to secretly communicate, and went behind their families’ backs to reunite at school.

The second plot begins with Kate Keller (Tavi Gevinson), a new teacher at the fictional school of Constance Billard, the home of the children of the rich and famous. Upon arrival, Kate realizes that teaching at the prestigious school is not all that it is hyped up to be. The kids are rude, dismissive, and even get her fellow teachers fired. So, she and her friends take it upon themselves to do something.

Enter the worst thing about the show (initially). Gossip Girl is not anonymous. In the first episode, we see Kate and her sidekicks, Jordan and Wendy, create the Instagram account after failing to understand (or get an audience) on Twitter.

The draw of the original Gossip Girl was the anonymity of the blogger, and crazy theories as to who it could be. The reveal of Dan Humphreys was saved for the finale, many years after the characters had graduated college. Revealing GG’s identity right out of the gate not only takes away mystery from the show, but it also makes the account presence in the teen lives very creepy, because it is being run by their teachers.

But the show goes on, and viewers are introduced to the remaining titular characters. Obie (Eli Brown), Juliens do-good activist boyfriend who joins in on protests against his own family’s properties, and Audrey (Emily Lind), fashionista and loyal best friend, are the closest to Julian. Monet (Savannah Smith) and Luna (Zion Moreno) are Julien’s managers, as well as Constance Billard’s “school villains” who take pleasure in exerting their power over teachers. Finally, there are Aki (Evan Mock) and Max (Thomas Doherty), the two guys of the group and Audrey’s love interests.

Part one of the show immediately dives into drama. Obie breaks up with Julien and gets with her younger sister within two episodes, Max starts hooking up with his teacher, Audrey and Aki both cheat on each other with Max then begin a throuple, Zoya and Julien fight then makeup 500 times, and far more petty drama.

After episode six, the series took a break, and part two was released on November 25th. Part two is objectively better than part one. The acting was much better, and the episodes transitioned from short conflicts that were solved by the end to longer plots that spanned several episodes.

In part two, Kate loses control of Gossip Girl to her fellow teachers, and they begin a ruthless campaign against Julien. Their campaign is not without reason; her dad is accused of multiple sexual assaults, and from the public eye, it seems like she supports him and is even trying to silence victims, even though she was trying to do the exact opposite.

Alongside Julien’s fall from grace, Adrey and Aki kick Max out of their relationship – then want him back – Obie and Zoya break up after he realizes that he is still in love with Julien (he then gets with a different girl after knowing her for ten days), and Kate pathetically begs for control of Gossip Girl again.

The finale ends with Julien releasing Obie and Zoya to spend New Year’s Eve back in the city instead of at her party, and an out of character alliance with her tormentor Gossip Girl. It then cuts to Monet, who believes that she can take Julien’s crown as NYC’s resident it-girl. The final minutes tease a major new story for season 2: fallen star Julian going head-to-head with back-seat mean girl Monet for crown.

The never-ending drama is not the only captivating aspect about the 2021 Gossip Girl. The social media marketing for the show is engaging and fun for fans, with each of the main characters having their own Instagram accounts, and Adrey and Aki getting additional accounts on Goodreads and Letterboxed. In the weeks leading up to the premier, Gossip Girl was able to text subscribers with teasers and updates. And so, fans could get their own pieces from the characters’ wardrobes. HBO Max collaborated with Depop to open shops for Julien, Monet, Aki, and Max.

Overall, this new series is full of fun and life. The characters are endearing, and you can find yourself cheering for them at their highs and upset for them at their lows. It had a rocky start, especially with the identity of Gossip Girl, but was able to straighten itself out in the second half of the season. Season one is a wrap, and season two promises to up the heat on the conflict. If you are nostalgic for the original show, or are just looking for backstabbing and constant drama, the Gossip Girl reboot is the show for you.