Hey Upper East Siders, ‘Gossip Girl’ is back with a Gen Z twist

HBO Max has rebooted ‘Gossip Girl,’ giving us a new glimpse into the lives of New York City’s hottest and wealthiest high schoolers.

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The cast of the “Gossip Girl” reboot (HBO Max/Gossip Girl/Karolina Wojtasik)

Phoebe Sklansky, Deputy Life Editor

Hey Upper East Siders, Gossip Girl here. Yes, you heard that right—while the original queen of scandal was dethroned in 2012, Gossip Girl 2.0 is back to antagonize New York City’s newest generation of wealthy, hot teenagers. Premiering July 8 on HBO Max, the 2021 “Gossip Girl” reboot promises the same snark, lust and designer clothes of the beloved original series. Only now, there are Instagram Stories, COVID-19 and vaping. 

Like the original, the show is a web of ever-changing insider-vs.-outsider dynamics between friends, rivals and lovers. The reboot follows freshman Zoya Lott (Whitney Peak), a middle-class scholarship student who is new to the elite Constance Billard High School, and her run-ins with the popular crowd, led by queen bee Julien Calloway (Jordan Alexander). Julien is flanked by her friends Audrey Hope (Emily Alyn Lind), Luna La (Zión Moreno), Monet de Haan (Savannah Lee Smith), Aki Menzies (Evan Mock), Max Wolfe (Thomas Doherty) and boyfriend Otto “Obie” Bergmann IV (Eli Brown). And yes, there are delicious parallels between the new gang and your favorite characters from the original—but who lines up with who? That’s one secret I’ll never tell. 

Perhaps the most striking difference—beyond the upgrade from flip phones to iPhones—is the diversity of the cast. Several races are represented among the main characters and the background actors, and the show delves into polyamory and pansexuality, so it feels like a refreshing Gen Z take on an arguably stuffy premise. This is especially nice considering the judgment Eric van der Woodsen faced in the original series for being gay. Another difference is that the reboot is way more overtly sexual. Chuck and Blair’s infamous limo scene is PG when compared to the reboot’s portrayal of oral sex in a dark club, that’s for sure.

I’ll admit it, I miss Chuck Bass’ sultry voice, Blair Waldorf’s master schemes and Nate Archibald’s very kissable face, yet I’m excited to see where the rest of this season goes. While the original actors won’t be returning to the show, their characters exist in the world of the reboot and are name-dropped, so the show feels familiar. Plus, Kristen Bell returns as the all-knowing, all-seeing voice of Gossip Girl, the Met Steps make a reappearance and the series opens with a mysterious blonde on a train. So for “Gossip Girl” fans, it’s like finding your favorite cozy sweatshirt that you lost under the bed years ago and finally getting to wear it again. This means that despite the tendency of reboots to feel stale, this one has already drawn me in; it’s different enough from the original with the Gen Z spin and its unique twist on our beloved narrator, Gossip Girl (I won’t spoil what it is, but it’s no Dan-Humphrey-in-his-Brooklyn-bedroom situation).

If you loved the melodrama and lavish lifestyles of the O.G. series, you won’t be disappointed. If you never watched the original, you can still easily enjoy the reboot—the exposition gives you a clear idea of the premise and where the show is headed. Plus, who doesn’t love some good drama? The “Gossip Girl” reboot premieres June 8 on HBO Max, and you’re going to want to watch ASAP. You know you’ll love it. XOXO.

Vanderbilt students can access HBO Max through Xfinity’s On Campus program