And we're back!
Gossip Girl (2021) Season 1 Episode 1 was the first episode of the reboot, and it opened the door for a string of big changes.
Below, TV Fanatics Laura Nowalk, Whitney Evans, and Paul Dailly break down the biggest reveals of the series premiere and whether they were successful in setting up a reboot to one of the most popular teen dramas ever.
The Teachers are Gossip Girl. What worked and didn't work about letting the cat out of the bag so quickly?
Laura: I liked the twist of involving the teachers and letting the audience in on it.
I think the teachers may struggle with divulging secrets that hurt innocent teens as collateral damage, so I’m uncertain how long they’ll keep this up.
I’m not sure we needed to see every scene of them plotting either. Suspense is good.
Whitney: I'm honestly not sure whether or not I like the twist. On one hand, it totally changes the show from the original to know who Gossip Girl is from the very beginning, and it's not a bad thing to switch things up in a reboot.
But on the other hand, knowing the teachers are purposefully trying to ruin the lives of kids is just so wrong.
To Laura's point, there was no reason for us to see them plotting out every scene. We aren't watching for the teachers.
Paul: I appreciate the writers wanting to go in a different direction, but the mystery of who is causing all the drama amongst the teenagers has always been exciting to me.
The teachers are pretty dull and watching them stalk a group of teenagers is not the kind of twist I expected.
Julien and Zoya are sisters. React!
Laura: Their relationship interests me the most as I have a soft spot for dysfunctional relationships. I’m intrigued by why their dads hate each other and why the sisters communicated in secret before deciding to bring Zoya to Constance.
While I enjoyed them trying to outsmart Gossip Girl, I appreciated their emotional confrontation more. The first time I watched it, I was unsure if it was real or if they were faking it for Gossip Girl, they’d gotten that good.
But I believe they both have lots of pent-up resentment, and I am eager to see where it goes.
Whitney: I knew they were going to have a falling out, but I actually hope that the two will be able to find their way eventually. You could tell that they both wanted to forge a relationship, but Julien cares more about her influence than anything else.
I'm very interested to hear more about their backstory and learn more about their dads. There's storyline was definitely the best part of the pilot.
Paul: That was my favorite development of the premiere. There had to be a reason for Zoya to be brought into the group, and it's a convincing hook.
If the show can dial up the intrigue by peeling pack the layers of their relationship, it could help the show do something different than its predecessor.
Audrey and Aki's relationship appears to have been stifled by spending so much time together during COVID-19. Where do you see this going from here?
Laura: Audrey and Aki remind me of Nate and Blair from the original Gossip Girl. Their spark has fizzled, and they both had more chemistry with Max.
I’m not seeing them lasting more than a few episodes. I think they care deeply about each other, but it’s turning to more of an old friend. I’m curious which one of them will end up with Max in a relationship first.
Whitney: I thought the same about them being a lot like Nate and Blair.
They seem to have hit a rut, and it would probably do them both some good to branch out. They're young, and it feels like their relationship is more just familiarity than passion.
I thought Aki and Max had crazy chemistry, so I definitely would like to see that explored.
Paul: I was bored by both of them, to be honest. Hopefully, they split up and find a way to be friends while being with people they have chemistry with.
Yes, there are similarities to Blair and Nate, but at least those characters were intriguing from the jump.
Who was your favorite character from the premiere, and why?
Laura: I had two-Julien and Max. I like Julien because she seems like a mystery. She’s the queen bee of the mean girls, but she has a softer side with her younger half-sister. I want to crack that mystery and see more of who she really is.
I love Max. He shines with all his scene partners, and I appreciate that HBO Max created a polyamorous pansexual character. Max flirts with everyone and is fun and charming to watch.
Whitney: Max was everything. I need to see so much more of him and learn everything there is to learn about him.
Though I will say, there were no weak links among the kids. Everyone seems to have something solid to bring to the table, which in itself is exciting.
Paul: While I liked Max a lot, Zoya was more interesting to me. Watching her introduced to this world while knowing it could all implode if her father learned the truth was fun.
She's also one of the most well-rounded characters. Part of the fun will be in how the Upper East Side changes her.
Is there anything you would change about the show?
Laura: I think the cast is too large. After the premiere, I really felt like we only had scratched the surface on Julien and Zoya’s issues and some of Audrey and Aki’s issues, as well as learning a bit about Max.
I don’t think we really know much about the characters’ tick because there are so many of them.
Whitney: If you ask me this in a couple of weeks, I will probably have a much better than I don't know. But right now, I really don't know because I'm still undecided whether or not I enjoyed the premiere or despised it.
Pilots can often be so different from the rest of the season, so give me some time to see where things head, and I'm sure there will be tons of things to change.
Paul: I agree with Laura that the cast is too big. It's disconcerting that so little is going on. There should be a lot more drama with a cast this big.
By the end of the season, I feel like we'll have barely scratched the surface with many of them.
What reference to the original did you like the best?
Laura: I loved hearing about how Blair/Serena’s rivalry was what ignited Gossip Girl.
Whitney: I liked all the little shout-outs! I like knowing that they're all living in the same universe.
Paul: Rebecca telling everyone about the original Gossip Girl. That was a scene filled with pure nostalgia.
What would you grade the premiere?
Laura: I give it a C- there’s room for improvement.
Whitney: C. I was entertained, but I am still uncertain about where the show is going. There's a lot of potential, but I need to see more.
Paul: D. The show has a beautiful cast, lavish sets, and a beautiful filming location in New York, but it never reached its full potential in the premiere.
New York is supposed to be a character on the show, but it felt so underutilized that they could have filmed it anywhere.
On top of that, the lack of drama was concerning. Unless the show picks up in the coming episodes, it probably won't stand the test of time.
Okay, Gossip Girl Fanatics!
What did you think of the premiere?
Do you think there's a good show in here somewhere, or were you sold from the beginning?
Hit the comments.
Catch a new episode on HBO Max on Thursday.
Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.