Reboot? Gossip Girl Needs Rethinking
Hi there, I want to give my slice of cake about Gossip Girl’s 2.0 or Gossip Girl’s Reboot. This HBO Max series is a reboot of 2012’s CW series with the title ‘Gossip Girl’, which was based on the novel by Cecily von Ziegesar. Now, let’s get down to the business. Was it bad? It’s my opinion only but yes. To be fair, the original Gossip Girl wasn’t a binge-worthy drama. But in the world of reboot maniacs and streaming providers, this one should be revised.
The original shows was about the life of privileged millennials in a privileged city. It was about the friendship of Serena van der Woodsen (Blake Lively) and Blair Waldorf (Leighton Meester) which sometimes went too far from friends into enemy so they were basically frenemy. Alongside with them were the handsome but not so significant Nathaniel Archibald (Chace Crawford) that actually could be replace by a Golden Retriever and the illogical and toxic Chuck Bass (Ed Westwick) that actually was a spoil boy from the richest man in the city but suddenly gain too much revelation in the whole series and became one of the hero. And then there were the outsiders, they were Daniel Humphrey (Penn Badgley), his sister Jenny Humphrey (Taylor Momsen) and his childhood friend Vanessa Abrams (Jessica Szohr). Blair Waldorf was actually a Queen Bee who had minions to do errands for her like buying her coffee or everything else. But then her kingdom was shaken by her longtime friend, Serena. Serena isn’t the queen-type like Blair, she was reckless, stupid and only interested in love and getting down by billionaire. And her coming back to their high school assaulted Blair. When the things weren’t so perfect for Serena, she got attention from the mysterious outsider, Daniel Humphrey, and also Blair’s white shining prince, Nate Archibald. Blair’s relationship with Nate got rocky and she soon found a rebound: Chuck Bass. Things got even messier when Dan’s childhood friend, Vanessa, came into the spotlight to steal Dan away and Dan’s sister, Jenny, desperately climbed the social hierarchy to be Blair’s minions.
That was the narrative for the season one, which many said interesting and good because it shows how insecurity of teenage in 2012 being friends with people who has more money than they could ever make in their whole life. And Serena, almost exiled by her best friend, shows the insecurity of a beautiful rich girl who was actually underrated most of the time and she struggled to be known not with her money or fame but by her own thinking and just want to be smarter than she was. Blair also find her struggle to be always compared with the Serena, New York’s favorite blond and beautiful while she couldn’t even make her boyfriend forget Serena. She tried so much to forgave Serena but sometimes Serena was like a damaged good. Nate is polite and cool guy and in the first season he got difficulties because his family went bankrupt and he soon find friendship in Dan, not Chuck. Along with that, their life was spied and became more sensational because Gossip Girl was able to made them as a juicy gossip’s fruit to all New Yorker.
For the life of high schoolers, the characters were nice written and have a strong role. Unfortunately the execution was so bad for the rest of the season until seasons 6. and somehow in the final episode it was revealed that Dan Humphrey was the Gossip Girl? Even Penn Badgley and all the remaining cast found it odd because Gossip Girl told everyone that Jenny Humphrey lost her virginity to Chuck Bass, so would it be possible Dan knew and did nothing about it except told everyone?
Yet somehow, the eerie of Gossip Girl 2012 was still better than the reboot.
The reboot is just… vague. If it could be the least non-upsetting word for the show.
I hoped so high for the reboot because I think in the original show all the casts didn’t have more room to grow and they didn’t got the character development of what they had been done. In the end, Serena was still a trashy woman who always find a new boyfriend in every episode and went away with them but then always, I mean always, stealing Blair’s boyfriend. And Nate was even worse because it turned out he never respected Dan’s life or his value as friend because they were always fight over Serena, like I think Nate could be made more of that, give him a credit please. Dan was way more worse because after he wasn’t an outsider he ditched his friend, Vanessa, then he didn’t care when Jenny was so hurt and everything. Blair was also still a manipulative-queen scheme who angry if she doesn’t get what she wants. Chuck surprisingly went from rich kid into a decent man, but there was a long way to it and not a good one.
So I really hoped for a better written characters for the reboot. Yet somehow the reboot just got even worse characters.
They change the name and everything. There are still the gang, led by Julien Calloway (Jordan Alexander), an influencer, she got her minions, but in a more PR-way, Luna (Zion Moreno) and Monet (Savannah Smith). Her best friend is a lonely Audrey (Emily Alyn Lind) whom has a boyfriend, Aki Menzies (Evan Mock). Julien’s boyfriend is a noble, he is Obie Bergmann IV (Eli Brown) and they all are friends with Max Wolfe (Thomas Doherty). Then there was some average girl from average city, Zoya Lott (Whitney Peak) who is Julien’s half sister. Julien’s mom left her father to be with Zoya’s father but died when she was delivering Zoya. Zoya’s father doesn’t want if Zoya is influenced by Julien with all her fame and style and everything but Zoya and Julien is manipulating everything so Zoya could enter Julien’s high school. But it wasn’t the sweet reunion like we would think (of course not).
Their life seems peaceful until the teachers, led by Kate Keller (Tavi Gavinson) started an Instagram account as Gossip Girl and they sold gossips about the gang. Now, it’s as bad as it sound, teacher scheming their students? Just because they were bullied by their students? But the breaking of the boundary of students and teachers isn’t just that. Max Wolfe who at first seems unimportant, turns out is having a dark relationship with one of the teacher, and of course the teacher is also a male because, why not, let’s break all boundary including student-teacher’s gay relationship. So the reboot sold that with teachers gossiping their students. It’s not even odd. It’s wrong to put that to any show.
And for me, the LGBTQ+ issue are just too much. I’m not an American or West European’s citizen so I still think that as disturbing, but it really is too much. First, we all know Max is bisexual. But then Aki is quite confused about his sexual orientation, and that leads to Audrey thinks there are something wrong with their relationship. Aki then had sex with Max once, and turns out Audrey had sex with Max once as her rebound. And in the end they found that three is better than one so threesome it is. The LGBTQ+ issue is also shows by so many one night stand same gender relationship between the main characters with anyone while for me it’s quite unnecessary to put that.
The director (or maybe the writer) told everyone that Aki is like the generation Z it is now, confuse. He became a blank canvas to show the struggle of generation Z, okay, I understand that but do we really need to go that far to be told that generation Z is confused about their own sexuality?
Rather than putting that they’re confused, the characters seems so vague. It seems that they can’t decide which is the best: one side can’t leave the old characters, the other side can’t create new ones that’s quite challenging. Julien is Serena, Obie is Dan, Audrey is Blair, Aki is Nate, Max is Chuck, Luna and Monet are the Blair’s minions and Zoya is Vanessa plus Jenny. Strange isn’t it? Why would Serena needs minions or now, PR? Serena, aside from all here trashiness, is quite capable to manage everything of her own. She maybe not as organized as Blair, due to she mainly put shows in gossip magazines, but the controversial celebrity also needs her PR too and Serena is capable thinking of that of her own, so now why Julien, who is pretty much like Serena, needs PR? And her boyfriend, Obie, is like Dan with nobility and money. I mean the worse thing about him as Dan is how much he talks like Dan, and it’s cringe so much. His voice is like Dan, and his thinking is like Dan. Obie does charity and everything and thinking about the lower class and the excess money and happily spends some while Dan is thinking about excess money he shouldn’t have but he has it anyway and spends it happily too, and talk much about outsider like him and insider like Blair. Obie lost interest with Julien as fast as Dan lost interest in Serena too, but not for Blair, but with Zoya. Zoya herself is also so much like Vanessa, the girl whom Dan lost interest too after he slowly adsorbed into inside of Upper East Side but surely quite interesting for Dan after he’s inside.
For Audrey, who should be Blair, she makes me think ‘what in the world is she thinking?’ and rolls my eyes. The friendship of Audrey and Julien seems so peaceful but also very exclusive. Every time Audrey was there, Luna and Monet somehow doesn’t even have the chance to talk and in the end Julien only listens to her, except for Zoya. Audrey never minds that Zoya is her friend just because it’s Julien’s sister, unlike Julien who would be nice to everyone. And strange thing is, Audrey says so many cruel things for Zoya but Julien never stops her. What? Audrey herself indulge so much with her trio relationship with Aki and Max. This is really Nate-Blair-Chuck all over again, except that Aki can still join them while Nate has long forgotten by Blair and surely Nate and Chuck were equally straight (here we go again with all LGBTQ+ ideas that makes it more vague and opaque). So probably Audrey won’t have to choose about Aki or Max but it still very boring rather than White Prince of Nate versus Black King of Chuck fight over Princess Blair. And who knows, maybe they give Louis, Prince of Monaco who loved Blair and married her (surprisingly for the title) in future with woman character.
Now, about Luna and Monet, the Julien’s PR. I never really paid attention to Blair’s minions in the original show, I just remember they ever put Dan in a very low position and even scheming him. But Luna and Monet aren’t here to make Julien’s relationship with Obie as long as it can be. They’re here for her influencer thing which is just insignificant progress if it’s as big as how they spoiling it before the premiere. And sometimes their works are just very unknown because I don’t even know that they’re truly needed.
Max Wolfe who should be Chuck Bass, they shows the similar premise: carefree and stupid. But the interesting part of Max is his parents, two dads, yet somehow still incapable to be faithful as they had promised to Max, which makes him the saddest character in this reboot. I think Thomas Doherty’s performance is what really saves the show. And we don’t need to talk about Aki much. He’s still the same Nate, we could replace him with a Golden Retriever.
I only wish for a better character development after knowing the second season of the show. But could you even give character development to characters that are basically vague and safe and seems don’t have their own minds?