Here's Everything We Know About the 'Gossip Girl' Revival
We are all Gossip Girl.
It's so much fun to start a story about Gossip Girl with the words, "Hello, Upper East Siders," but at this point, it's been done so many times that it's not all that creative. Still, this is an article about a reboot, so repetition is sort of the point. Yes, Gossip Girl—the teen melodrama based on Cecily von Ziegesar's young adult novels that ran for six seasons on the CW—is returning as a new series on Warner Media's upcoming new streaming service, HBO Max.
In the original series, which premiered in 2007, the beautiful and rich students at Upper East Side private schools were stalked by a tenacious blogger who exposed all of their dirty little secrets. The new concept? It's not another chronicle in the scandalous lives of Serena van der Woodsen (Blake Lively) and Blair Waldorf (Leighton Meester), but it will introduce audiences to a new crop of Manhattan (and possibly even Brooklyn) elite. With some help with co-executive producer Josh Schwartz, who answered eager reporters' queries at the Television Critics Association Press Tour in July 2019, here's what we know about the impending alerts blowing up our phones.
Is the new Gossip Girl series a reboot?
It depends on your definition of "reboot." Almost immediately after the announcement, Schwartz took to Twitter to explain it's not a reboot, but at TCA he seemed a bit confused about what exactly makes a reboot a reboot. What we do know is it's more of a "continuation of that world," where the characters that the 2007 version followed still exist but aren't the key players.
When will the new Gossip Girl air?
July 8! The date was announced with a sleek teaser featuring Kristen Bell's mellifluous voiceover and a giant ring light. Filming was underway as of November 2020. Set photos of the cast lounging on the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art set the internet abuzz. The way the kids are styling their uniforms has changed, but the hangout spot has not.
What will the new Gossip Girl be about?
Schwartz and co-EP Stephanie Savage know that nothing really dies in this era of TV, and they've been mulling ideas for a while. They explored other "takes" on the material, but landed on one from fellow executive producer Joshua Safran. "We felt like a version that was just our cast grown up, regardless of what the challenges would be assembling those actors again, it didn't really feel like a group of adults who were being patrolled by Gossip Girl would make a lot of sense," Schwartz says. "So it felt like there was something really interesting about this idea that we are all Gossip Girl now in our own way. We are all purveyors of our own social media surveillance state and how that's evolved and how that has morphed and mutated, and telling that story through a new generation of Upper East Side high school kids felt like the right time."
Who will be in the cast of the Gossip Girl revival?
Well, Gossip Girl herself of course. Kristen Bell will be back voicing the anonymous blogger, but otherwise Schwartz and company have assembled a new crew of actors. Among them: Emily Alyn Lind, Jordan Alexander, Savannah Smith, Whitney Peak, Evan Mock, Eli Brown, Johnathan Fernandez, Jason Gotay, Thomas Doherty, Adam Chanler-Berat, Zion Moreno, and Tavi Gevinson. Yes, that Tavi Gevinson the fashion blogger turned editor turned actress. Her casting has many layers.
Who are they all playing?
Perfectly, HBO Max is making its biggest advertising push for the new show on—where else?—Instagram. Via a series of posts the streaming service introduced this new crop of St. Jude's and Constance kings and queens. Lind is playing Audrey Hope, whose defining quality is "grace." Alexander is Julien Calloway who has "influence." Smith is Monet de Haan—fabulous name—with "power." Evan Mock is Akeno "Aki" Menzies. He's "innocence." Peruse the rest. A 2021 Cosmopolitan cover story has some more details about the characters. Peak's Zoya occupies the Dan Humphrey role as the outsider, while Audrey and Aki make up the hot couple, and Julien is an influencer, obviously.
But what about our Upper East Side veterans?
Frankly, we're not expecting Blake Lively to ditch her thriving movie career and her dreams of being a purveyor of fine artisan crafts to revisit her time as Serena van der Woodsen, but there is a possibility. The cast members from the first run were all made aware of plans to create a new version of the series. "If they want to be involved in some way, we've reached out to all of them to let them know it was happening and that we would love for them to be involved if they want to be involved, but certainly didn't want to make it contingent upon their [involvement]," Schwartz explained. "They played those characters for six years and if they felt like they were good with that we wanted to respect that, but it would be great to see them again." The Cosmo story confirms that there will be no cameos, at least in this first season.
But no, it will not feature children of Serena, Dan, Blair, Chuck, Nate, etc.
"We ain't that old, Jesus," Schwartz said, summing it up pretty succinctly.
How did it land on HBO Max?
It's fitting that Gossip Girl 2.0 would end up on this nascent streaming service, given that the series was produced by Warner Bros., which owns HBO Max. But Schwartz and Savage were in discussions with other platforms as well, including Netflix. "The original show airs on Netflix still and I think still does pretty well for them," he said. "So at one point that was possible. The CW still was possible. There were many conversations about where it could go." What this does likely mean is that Gossip Girl will eventually leave Netflix entirely, the way Friends has, to be with its corporate brethren.
Who is Gossip Girl?
Good question. In this version: "We are all Gossip Girl." Is your mind blown? According to Schwartz, contemporary teens are at the mercy of social media, not some unnamed blogger who may or may not be just a lonely boy living in Williamsburg. Thus, Schwartz adds that the mystery of who this chaotic evil figure looming over the action is will not be a factor. The Cosmo story describes Gossip Girl as less a blog than an "all-encompassing social media platform."
Do we have any remaining questions?
Of course! How the hell was Dan Humphrey Gossip Girl? In all seriousness, there are some practical questions that are still plaguing my brain. Among them: Given that HBO Max is not bound by Standards and Practices, will this new Gossip Girl head into more sordid territory? The kind currently occupied by HBO's Euphoria, which does not shy away from nudity and violence? When the show first launched it marketed itself on been shockingly sexual, so it would seem only fitting to push the limits further. I also just want to know how the new Gossip Girl will deal with a rapidly changing New York. When some of the nastiest gossip in recent years has come from Brooklyn Heights and not the Upper East Side, will the landscape of the series change? We'll have to wait and see.