Gossip Girl: Series Premiere Review – “Just Another Girl on MTA”
The Gossip Girl Season 1 premiere, titled “Just Another Girl on MTA,” is available to stream on HBO Max.
Gossip Girl fans, it’s time to (hesitantly) rejoice. As with any reboot, there’s a lot to live up to, even if what you’re comparing to is an already teen-heavy, didn’t-age-so-well drama from 14 years ago. Although the CW was behind the original TV show based on Cecily von Ziegesar’s popular novels, now HBO Max has picked up Gossip Girl for a new, woke reboot. One could say it’s a reboot nobody asked for, but since it’s here, let’s see if it lives up to the first series’ hype.
Paying homage to the first Gossip Girl in many ways, from the new it-crowd meeting at the steps of the Met to teachers name-dropping high school alumni aka original characters like Nate Archibald (Class of ‘09), there are several cheesy but fun nods to make true fans smile and potential fans possibly roll their eyes at. There’s a headband reference, unlimited money to spend, a classic “mean girls” posse, sex and temptation through a love triangle like Chuck and Blair’s, and of course, a new way to sabotage the private school teens through social media’s own Gossip Girl. We have so much teen privilege to witness, from penthouse-living to drinking at members-only clubs; the rich are richer and the middle-class are, well, still “poor”.
The characters still care more about their looks and what people think more than anything else, with a modern-day focus on being influencers and having a personal “brand” on Instagram. There are even character highlights and teasers on the official Gossip Girl Instagram profile with their noted “brand”. The new crew naturally ditched the Gossip Girl blog since that’s so nine years ago and gave anyone over 30 a hard time, or in other words, those still on Twitter (their words, not mine). Teachers and students both cram in several one-liner critiques about Gossip Girl, from past posts being so “pre-cancel culture” to the new Gossip Girl name: “at least call it Gossip Woman.” It’s silly how many statements are made in just one episode, but the revival wants to be clear that everyone is sticking with the times.
The characters still care more about their looks and what people think more than anything else
Taking parts of the original characters’ personalities and relationships and intertwining them with the new can be a wee bit distracting and confusing if you’re a fan of the first show. I spent as much time figuring out who everyone was and if they were supposed to be the new “Serena” or “Blair” or “Chuck” of the group, as I did following along with the actual story being set up. I think I got some connections figured out by the end though, as the new Chuck named Max Wolfe has the same, obvious playboy charm and the sassy, cute Blair-like character has eyes for him although she’s taken. Potentially the new Little J from Brooklyn, Zoya Lott is the sweet, smart freshman from Buffalo, who is ignored by the 17-year-old crew on the steps. That said, the characters themselves are bold AF. We’re talking multiple shaved heads, sex fluid character(s), underaged drinking, and drugs at a members-only club like they own the place (maybe their parents do?). And thankfully an actually diverse cast, with two black female leads played by Jordan Alexander (as Julien Calloway, the new it-girl) and Whitney Peak (Zoya Lott, the frosh).
As Gossip Girls’ story is just beginning, the first episode, titled “Just Another Girl on MTA,” focuses less on the friend drama and more on the direct tension between high school teachers not getting respect versus the privileged students holding all of the power, as well as some personal family drama sprinkled in. I get why the show switched up who is trying to take down who for the reboot, so it already differs from the original, but disappointingly there’s no real guessing game of “who is Gossip Girl” for the viewer to anticipate. You’ll know right away who is behind Gossip Girl 2.0, so instead, stay intrigued by the threats and secrets being revealed by GG. I only hope the secrets are juicy enough to keep me interested, or else I’m following along for the elite fashion looks and pretty actors which can only entertain me for so long.
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