It’s not a great sign when a reboot of a teen drama makes you yearn for the good old days of the original show.
After the way Gossip Girl Season 6 ended, the blog was dead and buried, and the characters had all reached pivotal milestones in their lives.
But this is 2021, and reboots are still a thing.
Gossip Girl (2021) has a stellar cast, but the new series fails to capture the magic the original did off the bat when it burst onto the scene in 2007.
With such a talented cast, you’d think there would be enough storylines to go around, but the show becomes tedious quickly due to the lack of development for most of the characters.
The cast is simply too big to serve these low-key storylines, and the culprit appears to be poor plotting. There’s not much going on in the Upper East Side in 2021, according to this reboot.
Whitney Peak is the clear frontrunner as Zoya Lott. Zoya is the easiest character to like initially because we see her introduction into the Upper East Side and, of course, the school these characters attend.
Zoya’s a fish out of water, and the show manages not only to introduce her well but also develop her well in those initial four episodes.
With a cast as expansive as this, it’s disconcerting that the rest get such frivolous material.
Jordan Alexander is decent as Julien Calloway, but the show utilizes her so much in the opening episodes that it seems she will be given the same stuff to work with every episode. Not a good sign.
Eli Brown’s Obie gets a lot of screentime in the first four episodes, but we don’t know anything more about him than we learned in the series premiere. The character doesn’t grow; he merely stays the same, and it says a lot about the series.
Thomas Doherty is another solid option as Max Wolf, a character highly reminiscent of Chuck Bass, but there’s little depth here, either.
It leaves me with a sense of worry about how the show will last for seasons if it can’t find a convincing way to tell stories in its early episodes.
Beyond the characters we don’t even learn that much about, there’s not much else going on in the show, leaving a sense that there are few plots.
There are hookups, drug-taking, and everything you’d expect from a teen drama, but without scope about where the show could end up in a few episodes or a few years, the characters feel dispensable.
With the new series coming from Joshua Safran, who was heavily involved with the original, I expected better. Safran was responsible for writing some of my favorite episodes, so he seemed like the best person to shepherd this series into a new generation.
For the most part, reboots and revivals have sucked, and Gossip Girl is, quite frankly, a pale imitation of the original series.
Another big flaw is that the new series is all about teenagers. The original excelled because the parents were crucial to the development of the plots, but here, the parents do appear, but not in a way that gives them meaty plots to sink their teeth into.
Laura Benanti is the strongest of the parents by a landslide, and there is scope to expand on her story, but after witnessing how the plots are handled, I won’t be holding my breath.
The end result is a show that is a little too teeny for adults, but it could resonate with the younger crowd.
In the last few years, we’ve had new teen dramas such as Euphoria and Elite that have managed to craft compelling storylines that could last seasons, but there are not enough interesting things for me to recommend Gossip Girl.
The series has lavish sets, stylish fashion, and witty one-liners, but being completely devoid of compelling plots is not a good way to start things.
It’s hard to imagine any of the original fans enjoying the new take. Yes, there are some easter eggs, but the show will likely do well enough to continue with a new crop of fans.
What about you, Gossip Girl fanatics?
Will you be checking out the new series?
It premieres on HBO Max on July 8.
Check out the full trailer below and hit the comments with your thoughts.
Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.