Why The New Gossip Girl Could Be Just Like Euphoria

Photo: The CW/Photofest.
Spotted: More Gossip Girl headed our way. On Wednesday, Deadline reported that HBO Max had ordered a reboot of The CW's Gossip Girl to series, introducing a whole new generation to the scandalous lives of Manhattan's elite. Okay, so maybe not introduce a new generation — Blair Waldorf (Leighton Meester) and Serena van der Woodsen (Blake Lively) are still pop culture icons, and Gossip Girl is still on Netflix. However, the HBO Max version of the show may not be exactly like the original one that fans can binge six seasons of — and for good reason.
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The original Gossip Girl was followed a group of privileged teens on the Upper East Side as they schemed, hooked up, and acted like elitist sociopaths (sorry B, it's true!!!) all while under the watchful eye of the titular anonymous blogger. A mysterious and all-knowing figure who, need I remind the world, was actually Dan Humphrey (Penn Badgley), aka Lonely Boy, aka the worst one of them all.
The official logline of the new series, per HBO Max, teases just how different things are since the Gossip Girl finale in 2012.
"Eight years after the original website went dark, a new generation of New York private school teens are introduced to the social surveillance of Gossip Girl. The prestige series will address just how much social media — and the landscape of New York itself — has changed in the intervening years."
This is the key of understanding how Gossip Girl 2.0. will be different from the original series. Social media was in its infancy when Gossip Girl premiered in 2007, and was virtually ignored on the series. Blair and Serena did not have Instagram. Gossip Girl did not connect his blog to a Twitter account. The Shade Room did not screen grab snarky or thirsty comments from Chuck Bass (Ed Westwick) on photos of socialites. It's worth wondering: Will Gossip Girl, whoever the hell they are this time around, be as powerful in a world where many people share secrets on social platforms? Gossip Girl was the place for dirt, but now that everyone has the power to reach a mass audience...what's the appeal?
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We'll find out when the new Gossip Girl premieres, but it won't be the only difference between The CW's version of the series and HBO Max's. Gossip Girl was shocking for CW audiences, but it was still network television: No nudity, no explicit sex, and very limited drug use. (The only time I actually remember seeing anyone snorting cocaine on Gossip Girl, and not just generally alluding to drug use, was when Serena killed that guy.) Compare this to HBO drama Euphoria, which is full of sex, drugs, and f-bombs. What content standards will the new Gossip Girl adhere to? (HBO could not provide comment to Refinery29 on any specifics about the show at this time.)
Then there's the fact that you simply can't do a Gossip Girl for Gen Z without addressing the fact that Gen Z exists in a changing world — and not just because hotel mogul Bart Bass (Robert Burke) is probably rolling over in his grave over competitor Donald Trump's presidency. Income inequality is a massive issue and not merely the punchline of one of Blair's scathing remarks. Nate (Chace Crawford) flying private is pretty terrible for the environment. Chuck hooking up with his hotel staff is definitely an icky #MeToo headline waiting to happen.
The characters we once secretly wanted to be might not be so appealing in a post-2016 world.
Which is not to say that Gossip Girl 2.0. won't be a great time: Scandals, soap, and that iconic Gossip Girl fashion never goes out of style, even if Blair's sense of entitlement did.
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