More an old mess than deliciously messy

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We live in the age of reboots, but very few have managed to find the perfect formula for success. Most struggle to strike the right balance between nostalgia for the original and offering something new for a new generation – and unfortunately the new one is. Gossip Girl, at least in the pilot episode.

For some of us, time may not have passed since the original Gossip Girl ended in 2012 to warrant a reboot, but for today’s teens, it’s a relic of the past. Updates to the new show show how much things have changed in a micro-generation: the characters are much more diverse – at least when it comes to ethnicity and sexuality – and Gossip Girl is now an Instagram account. , not a blog.

For a reboot that’s trying to stand out, there’s a ton of the same stuff.

Queen B, Julien (Jordan Alexander) is mixed race and popular because she is pleasant, although his minions are on the ruthless side, while the song’s Chuck Bass, Max (Thomas Doherty), is bisexual and flirtatious without being predatory (for now at least).

But for a show that seems determined to prove just how different it is from its predecessor, it’s sort of obsessed with this one as well. Much of the episode is devoted to characters reading and talking about the old Gossip Girl blog and Serena / Blair / Chuck. It’s a precursor and a rationale for the new Gossip Girl, but it’s overkill, and the old blog’s framing as something that was good for these characters is particularly shocking.

It also reinforces the fact that the more things change, the more they stay the same. While the characters and world of the show may seem more like 2021 (they even mention the pandemic), more than a little baggage has been carried over from the original series to the reboot.

Queen B, Julien (Jordan Alexander).

Queen B, Julien (Jordan Alexander).

Most importantly is the old Hollywood trope of adults who don’t look like teenagers playing teenagers. It happens for all kinds of practical reasons, but on a show like Gossip Girl it can become particularly disturbing. It’s less disconcerting than it should, for example, to see a 14-year-old character in their underwear, or two 16-year-old characters having sex, or a whole bunch of them sitting in a club. upscale casually drinking cocktails, when they’re not the age they’re supposed to be. The adult appearances of the characters also come in handy for the most important plot point of all: who Gossip Girl is and why “she” came back. Her identity is no longer a secret that she will never reveal; the audience, at least, finds out in the first 15 minutes of the show.

Leighton Meester (Blair) and Blake Lively (Serena) in the original Gossip Girl.

Leighton Meester (Blair) and Blake Lively (Serena) in the original Gossip Girl.

Without spoiling it for those who want to get started, Gossip Girl’s identity undermines not only what might have been a valid exploration of modern cyberbullying, but also the ‘wake-up call’ the series so painfully tries to reach elsewhere (” it should be Gossip WOMAN, ”one character exclaims).


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