Lost in the Reel’s video review for Gossip Girl

As a huge fan of the original CW series Gossip Girl (which has spawned numerous reboots around the world, becoming a global phenomenon) I was beyond excited to see what HBO Max could do with this property.  This material lends itself well to the streaming platform. Allowing it to spread its wings, be a tad bit racier and to also cover subject material that would not be allowed on network television.  And although I quite enjoyed these first four episodes and am very intrigued to see where the show goes from here… this reboot of Gossip Girl doesn’t necessarily feel like it has found its footing, just yet.


The show follows a group of elite young teenagers at a New York private school. Whose lives take a turn, when the scandalous “Gossip Girl” reappears after a near- decade hiatus.  The two leads are half-sisters Julien and Zoya, who have been separated by their fathers. They decide to plot against them, by getting Zoya a scholarship to their school so they can finally be together.  But, not all is sunshine and rainbows when she arrives. Because Julien finds that her sister is overshadowing her status and becoming the talk of the town, with the help of “Gossip Girl”, of course.


One thing that already separates this series from the original, is that the identity of the “Gossip Girl” is revealed, almost right off the bat.  And although this adds a new layer to this series, and almost a meta-like feel to the show (we’ll talk about that more in our spoiler discussion), I can’t help, but feel like that takes the air of mystery completely away… and honestly, the who-dunnit aspect of the original, was one of my favorite things about it.  So, by taking the mystery out of the equation, the reboot is left solely to the laurels of its ensemble cast to create characters that we want to tune in to week-after-week.  


Luckily, I think this show has found a lovely group of unknown young actors to fill out its teen ensemble.  Our two leads Julien and Zoya, played by Jordan Alexander and Whitney Peak… are easily the biggest stand-outs to me. But, that is also because the showrunners have given their characters the most screen time and the most interesting story arcs, by a long mile.  I also think that Evan Mock as the sexually-confused sweetheart of the group Aki and Thomas Doherty as the sex and drug-fueled party-boy Max, are also two characters that I can see myself really becoming attached to.  It will really be up to the showrunners in the next six episodes, that I have yet to see, to really flesh out this large cast of young people. They all need time to shine, for this series to really become a runaway success.


Then we have the teachers and the parents in the show, who get much more screen time than you would initially expect.  And I have two issues here.  Number one, some of the adult cast, are just not the best actors… not all them, but there are a few.  And it’s a little jarring to see an adult performer struggling, up against someone from the younger cast.  But, hopefully they will come into their own as the show goes on.  The other issue I have is that when we get extended storylines with these adult characters, it almost feels like a different show. It all just feels like it hasn’t come together and found a balanced tone, just yet.


The showrunners have come up with some very alluring and scandalous storylines, that gripped me through these first episodes and made the time just fly by.  I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about these characters from the offset, but once we started getting more backstory and “Gossip Girl” started to really stir the pot, I really started to become captivated.

But, I must say, with the HBO Max banner, I honestly was expecting this to be a little more racy and provocative.  Now that they have the freedom to do whatever they want, I was really hoping that they would just “go” there.  HBO spoiled us with Euphoria, and Netflix, just recently with the wonderfully genuine Young Royals… and I was hoping this Gossip Girl reboot would really do something different and up the ante.  In these first four episodes, they haven’t necessarily done that. Time will tell, if the showrunners will be able to make this another classic teen drama… but, for now, I’m definitely along for the ride. 

Gossip Girl premiered its First Episode on HBO Max Thursday, July 8th with a new installment dropping weekly.

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