Gossip Girl is back with a new story, a new cast, and a bang-average rating on IMDB. Usually, a five-point-three out of ten isn't a reason to tune in. But, let's be real, when have teen dramas and good ratings ever gone hand-in-hand?
The reboot debuted earlier this month with an hour-long premiere—not nearly enough time, by the way, to learn the name of a dozen protagonists. It did set a familiar scene though, delving into the lives of elite New York high-schoolers—this time around, in the age of Instagram.
Here be spoilers…
00:00 Run the montage…aaaand look what we have here: a character looking distressed on public transport. At least I'm certain I'm watching the right show now.
01:00 A walk-in wardrobe resembling a designer showroom, a dining hall right out of a medieval castle—situated in a New York City apartment, might I add. "Make the viewers feel poor," I believe the director's notes read.
03:29 Oh look, it's the reboot's very own Dan Humphrey—the normal person about to make their way into private school. I can tell because Zoya Lott just had a conversation with her father which neither started nor ended with, "I'm flying to Paris. See you in a month."
03:45 Steps. They're sitting on steps. Just like they used to in the original.
04:45 Oh, and now a teacher's being bullied. What a breath of fresh air these opening five minutes have been.
06:47 Did they just name-drop Nate Archibald, Dan Humphrey, and the original Gossip Girl blog? Wow, save something for the rest of the season. The sense of continuity is working in the show's favour so far though. Acknowledging OG characters removes the need to build a world from scratch—the bane of many a reboot in the past.
08:22 So many people, and they all have different names.
11:29 The teachers have collectively decided to be the new Gossip Girl. At risk of sounding a slight hypocrite, I can't believe six fully-grown adults have nothing better to do with their time than anonymously tweet about teenage drama.
13:12 Zoya Lott meets her half-sister Julien Calloway, the reboot's equivalent of Serena van der Woodsen. I'm pleasantly surprised that the writers didn't rehash the same dynamic between the normal and elite-class protagonists as seen in the original show.
14:30 Finally, characters being unnecessarily rude. All the niceties was starting to get off-putting.
20:39 Gossip Girl switches over from Twitter to Instagram and tags the students in her first post—all of whom promptly block her. If nothing else, I do appreciate the realism here.
22:24 Finally, the seeds of a love triangle—and of course, it's between Zoya, Julien, and Julien's boyfriend, Obie.
31:18 Look, it's Zoya and Obie walking in the rain at night.
32:43 And now they've decided to change out of their wet clothes right by the living room window. Apparently, there's not a single washroom in this apartment building which Obie owns. The whole building. All of it.
32:48 Why just suspend reality? Might as well get rid of it altogether. Here's their school teacher standing outside in the rain, taking photos of the two semi-nude underage students through said living room window.
36:30 Would you look at that? The photos are now on Gossip Girl's Instagram, which is suddenly going strong at ten-thousand followers.
Twenty minutes of drama carry us to the end of an episode which, despite a number of positives—the cinematography, colours, non-token representation—seems to fall flat.
Perhaps high standards and rose-tinted goggles are to blame. Even though the reboot does its best to stand apart from the original, it's impossible not to draw comparisons. 2007's Gossip Girl had its fair share of absurd and outright ridiculous storylines, but they were balanced out by compelling characters. Characters whom you wouldn't have trouble remembering after a single episode. The same can't be said in this case.
All things considered, will I be watching the rest of the season? Of course, albeit begrudgingly.
Gossip Girl is available to stream on HBO Max.