Gossip Girl 2021: A Review

Words by: Shannon Valentine

Hey Upper East Siders,

Today’s topic of gossip asks us, ‘what’s more stylish in 2021 than the With Jéan Andy dress?’

That’s right, the Gossip Girl reboot! A highly anticipated successor of the iconic series that ran from 2007-2012.

Was it worth the wait? We sure think so.

Headbands are out, buzz cuts are in!

An ode to its time, a generation of social media users will relate to the show in a lot of ways, apart from the actual embodiment of stinking rich New York teens.

With Women of Colour (WoC) at the forefront of this modern masterpiece, teen and adult viewers alike can find relatability in the varied characters beyond the rich-kid personas, and identify with the struggles of accepting who someone is behind the mask of social media.

New York’s upper class brother-sister schools, St Judes and Constance Billard have moved into one co-ed arrangement and we see the story partially from the teachers’ perspective throughout the series. Underpaid and exhausted by their treatment from parents and students alike, the teachers reinvent Gossip Girl via Instagram as the key to keeping their students in line. The fact that this would be oh so illegal in real life, is why we love the escapism of TV shows like this.

While you might have also missed the subtle cultural references that the witty script carefully places throughout, I assure you they’re there, fired off in entertaining back-and-forths as the characters develop who they are and who they want to become. As Luna puts it, “I don’t need a feminised transformation in order to please a cis man.” Amen! Promoting again the idea of fluid gender representation and sexual identity. We love to see it!

What did they do right?

Varied representation of race across society, sexual identity and family life that strays from the heteronormative to a portrayal of relatable emotion. The Gossip Girl reboot is an ally of change in social structure. Pansexual representation in characters like Max Wolfe is needed in mainstream shows and movies to challenge what some teens have been brought up to know as the norm. A deeper exploration of identity can be seen in this reboot, with aforementioned exploration of sexual identity, BIPOC representation, moral standards, changing family structures and prioritisation of self-interest over society’s expectation.

References to the preceding show give us that warm feeling of nostalgia, reminiscent of the times we saw Chuck Bass and Nate Archibald grace our screen.

What could they have done better?

As iconic as the tailoring of the school uniforms are, it’s a far cry from reality to think that an oversized shirt, bike shorts and knee high stiletto boots would ever be allowed in an American school. Underage drinking — again, a theme of the original series, as the Manhattan elite appear to get away with everything — might not be giving the best ideas to the next generation.

Is this what a post-COVID-19 world will look like? At least for New York’s elite.

With a lot left to find out, after this six-episode romp’s huge cliffhangers, we can’t wait to see what’s in store for these characters in the next six.

Gossip Girl is surprisingly enjoyable and a step in the right direction for representation and diversity on-screen. Simply put, it is a must-watch for fans of the original series.

Until November, XOXO

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