2021’s Gossip Girl: A Disappointing Failure


Trinity Gilreath, Staff Reporter

HBO Max’s reboot of the iconic CW teen drama, “Gossip Girl,” is probably the most disappointing show that I’ve ever watched. Before the show came out, the show already got hate from the original fans for superficial things like “looking cheap” and “making the show woke ” due to the diverse cast. After the release of the trailer, hate for the show started to settle down,so it’s so upsetting how poorly the show ended up being. Between lazy character writing, mediocre fashion, poor acting, and questionable morals, the Gossip Girl reboot is possibly the worst teen drama show I’ve ever seen.

The original Gossip Girl had possibly the most awful people, especially characters like Chuck Bass and Blair Waldorf, but in the book series the show is based off of, and at least the first season of the show, it was a satirical critique of the privileges of rich teens. However, in the reboot, the awfulness is just due to the bad writing. The worst characters on the shows are the teachers, who, if you don’t know, recreate Gossip Girl, a website dedicated to revealing the secrets of the Upper-East-siders, as a way to teach the teenage students a lesson. If the show was portraying this as a bad thing, it would be one thing, but we are actually supposed to root for the teachers, specifically Kate, who also enters into a romance with one of the students’ fathers, all while publicizing this 14-year-old girl’s heartbreak. Other characters are very poorly written and are just given mean things to say occasionally, like Monet, Audrey, and Luna. Julien is the main character and is one of the most annoying and entitled characters in the show and possibly the franchise. Aki, Max, and Zoya are probably the most likable characters, but in Aki’s case, that’s mostly because he’s been given nothing to do. Otto is a performative activist and the worst main character in the show.

Season 1A
The pilot is actually pretty good, especially compared to the rest of season 1A. The biggest problem with season 1A is that they are trying really hard to be the original show. The love triangle between sisters Zoya and Julien with Otto in the middle is a carbon copy of the love triangle between Nate, Serena, and Blair, but poorly written, and neither couple has any chemistry. Other aspects, like the clear replication of Chuck Bass on Max, another love triangle, are later transformed into a polyamourous relationship between Audrey Hope and Aki Menzies, a couple who have been together for years, and Max, their close friend. Aki deals with his sexuality and is constantly outed, first by Max, then by Audrey (in all fairness, it was an accident), and even by his own father. Another big part is the relationship between Zoya and Julien, the sisters. Along with their love triangle, they constantly fight about useless things and makeup an episode later, which is a lot for 6 episodes. 1A is definitely bad, but bad in the same way that the final seasons of the original series were.

Season 1B
The second part of season 1 is a tiny bit better because it finally seems like its own show and they give up on the useless love triangle after one episode where Zoya and Julien fight again and end their friendship, only to make it up the next episode. The original shows’ Thanksgiving episodes were iconic and a huge part of the show’s legacy, but unfortunately, the reboots’ Thanksgiving episodes fall flat. At the end of the season, Aki, Audrey, and Max form a polyamorous relationship after Aki and Audrey consistently prioritize their desires over Max’s declining mental health.Monet and Luna aren’t given much to do until the finale, where they introduce a love interest for Luna and tease Monet about becoming the new Queen Bee. Zoya gets a friend her age after finally realizing her sister’s friends aren’t her friends. The teacher’s storyline became really boring, and I forgot everything that happened there. There is also a storyline where Julien’s dad is accused of sexual assault by many women, and Julien is forced to choose between keeping her relationship with her dad and doing the right thing. I want to say I like the storyline, but it feels lazy and is more worried about how it affects Julien’s career as an influencer, which makes the power that the story could have had fall flat. I appreciate the writers’ decision to give Otto very little screen time in the second half .

Things I Liked
One of my favorite things about the show is the marketing. Every character gets an Instagram account and other forms of social media. Zoya and Audrey both have Goodreads accounts, and Aki is given a Letterboxd account as well. Another thing I liked is the handling of Otto’s performative activism. Zoya, who actually cares about the issues since she’s affected by them, calls Otto out on his disingenuous politics. The show also doesn’t add COVID into the story, which if it did, it would’ve been poorly handled.

Things I Disliked
The acting is one of the biggest problems in the show. Julien, Kate, and Aki all have awful line delivery. Kate’s actress is actually a writer who wrote about the original show and was recognized by the writers and cast, so her acting can be explained by her being cast due to her connection to the original show. However, Aki and Julien’s actors had to actually audition to get the roles, so their acting can’t be justified. Another problem I have is the diversity, or lack thereof. While Zoya is canonically monoracial, the actress is biracial. Hiring biracial actresses to play fully black characters has always been a problem, especially when the show is profiting from the diversity.

I  would say that this is a good show to watch if you want a carefree teen drama like its predecessor, but the show takes itself way too seriously. The show wants to come off as a progressive version of the original show so badly that it becomes more of a parody of itself. A line from the pilot episode refers to the toxic relationship between Chuck and Blair from the CW version as “pre-cancel culture,” one of the many examples of the cringy attempts at showing that the show is more modern and, by default, better than the original show. Personally, I was never really a fan of the original show, but it is far better written than the reboot. You are probably better off watching the 2007 version.