Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are of the author and do not represent the views of DU Express in any way.
The year was 2007- the dawn of the internet, flip phones, and blogs. While it might seem like the utopian past, the year brought us the original Gossip Girl- a show based on a book series of the same name. Set in Upper East of Manhattan, it followed the lives of five privileged teens attending a private elite school. The driving force of the show was that an anonymous blog by the name Gossip Girl posted the scandalous happenings of these students. Everyone: conniving misunderstood, Blair, also conniving misunderstood, Chuck, warm yet confused, Serena, no-personality guy, Nate and the ultimate outsider, Dan lived under fear of the Gossip Girl.
At a time when TV shows failed to garner young audiences, this show managed to grab attention. And it was thanks to their great marketing that when the show’s trailer first came out, the show claimed itself “To be every parent’s worst nightmare”. It followed the footsteps of reality TV (which was growing rapidly at the time) and catered to younger audiences. It was almost as if it was the next Sex And The City but set in school.
Its simple premise brought both huge successes as well as heavy criticism- the show often sexualized young adults and glamorized students having relations with teachers. From the eyes of a true TV critic, this show failed in all accounts. Yet it did surprisingly well and garnered huge audiences- mainly because teens and young adults enjoyed lust-fueled dramas and catty commentary (thanks to Kristen Bell) combined with the mystery element of “Who is Gossip Girl?”.
As a show, this formula should have failed but it did quite the opposite. Most newer TV shows like Pretty Little Liars and Riverdale followed the same techniques.
Bringing Gossip Girl Back
Flash forward to 2021, the number of TV dramas dedicated to young people is now falling. Younger audiences don’t like watching overly preachy TV shows and those which force opinions. A majority of adult dramas are even willing to portray young adults as cranky and fickle more often than not- alienating young audiences. The original show also has some amends to make due to its lack of diversity in terms of people of colour and sexual orientation. Over years, as norms of what is appropriate to be shown on TV have changed, the show that once was described as scandalous is now just not obscene enough. Bringing back the show now is more important than ever. It has a legacy to protect and something to bring to the table.
Gossip Girl 2.0
The plans to revive Gossip Girl were first floated in 2019, but the pandemic struck a blow on production and the show came to screens in July this year instead.
Set in New York, the reboot follows the lives of a group of students at Constance where their entire social life is disrupted by the resurgence of Gossip Girl. Since 2007 technology has changed- the blog has now shifted to an Instagram account that monitors and tracks the lives of the “It” students. Gossip Girls tracks squabbles between Zoya and JC who are half-sisters and former friends; now fighting for the spot of Queen and (sinfully enough) the same man Obie. The dynamic between those two is similar to Serena and Blair from the original. And much like Blair, JC is surrounded by a posse of her own namely Monet and Luna. Another portion of the show covers a couple with both lusting for the same emotionally unavailable man. The egregious trio is characterized by Audrey, Max and Akeno.
Unlike the original, this show reveals the identity of the Gossip Girl within the first fifteen minutes. Spoiler alert- it’s the teachers at Constance! As a way to terrorize students and discipline them, the teachers of the show bring back Gossip Girl. If you ask me, this is a touch too scandalous, but that’s when you know the show’s on the right track.
Though I utterly believe that the show needs to improve the characters’ personalities and develop them further, it is absolutely delightful to watch. The show solves the issue of diversity smoothly and even writes in the pandemic to its storyline. There is far too little chemistry between the main cast; but hopefully, these issues can be solved by the end of the season. The plot point of the teachers being Gossip Girl is seriously hilarious and the fights between the sisters show real potential for drama. Their Instagram account screams Gossip Girl and you’ll find yourself reading everything in Kristen Bell’s GG voice.
Is this everything you want in a show?
But is it entertaining and trashy (in the best way)?
Does it aim to please?
A hundred percent.
To read more reviews by writers at the DU Express, click here