The scandalous lives of Manhattan’s elite would have been far less interesting had they not been narrated by Kristen Bell’s Gossip Girl. Now, HBO Max’s reboot of the series won’t have to go without its titular character. Bell is heading to Gossip Girl 2.0, according to Variety, though exactly how the one-time anonymous blogger will fit into the series set eight years after the events of the original is unclear.
For those who aren’t intimately familiar with Blair Waldorf (Leighton Meester), Serena van der Woodsen (Blake Likely), and the men they more than occasionally shared an interest in, Gossip Girl followed Upper East Side teenagers as they navigated their privileged lives under the watchful eye of a snarky blogger. Bell voiced that blogger, though her character never appeared in the flesh. In an extremely meta moment in the finale, Bell played herself in a cameo role opposite The O.C. star Rachel Bilson.
No one in the Upper East Side crowd knew who ran website Gossip Girl — which sent out anxiety-producing “text blasts” when it had juicy dirt to spill — and over the years, plenty of suspects were revealed to be red herrings. It was only in the final episode of the series that Gossip Girl’s identity was revealed to be Dan Humphrey (Penn Badgley), a Brooklynite who infiltrated the UES via his relationship with Serena. The reveal made sense in theory — the F. Scott Fitzgerald-worshipping Humphrey pulled a Gatsby — but most fans were left scratching their heads over how Dan could have gotten away with such a scheme.
Given that the HBO Max version of Gossip Girl will be set in an age of social media, where anonymous Twitter accounts and blind gossip Reddit threads do all the work of that veiled blogger, it’s unclear how Bell’s role may be different. Variety reports that a new generation of New Yorkers will be introduced to the “social surveillance” of Gossip Girl, but that the series will also “explore how much social media and the landscape of New York itself has changed in the intervening years.”
"We felt like a version that was just our cast are grown-up, regardless of what the challenges would be of assembling these actors again, it didn't really feel like a group of adults who were being controlled by Gossip Girl would make a lot of sense," co-creator Josh Schwartz said at the Television Critics Association summer press tour this year, adding that social media eliminated the need for Gossip Girl in the first place.
No matter how much New York, or Gossip Girl, has changed since the CW series aired its final episode in 2012, it will be nice to have a familiar face — err, voice — return to Manhattan.