Safran’s ‘Gossip Girl’ Spin-Off Creates a Glamorous World of Escapism and Heart


“Gossip Girl (HBO Max) Trailer HD.” (Courtesy of TV Promos’ YouTube)

By Lee Kedem, Arts Writer


Welcome back Utahns…

Would that be the equivalent of “Upper East Siders?” Who knows? Who cares? That same optimistic confusion is the feeling I got when watching Joshua Safran’s “Gossip Girl” spinoff. I watched the first six episodes weekly and, although I did enjoy it for the escapism that it provided, I spent the majority of the time trying to understand the slight comparisons between the new and old characters.

I remember sitting at home watching “Gossip Girl” in 2013, a year after the show had wrapped on the CW. I was in middle school and my friend had just spoiled the ending of the show for me. I knew who Gossip Girl was and I was only on season three — I couldn’t believe it! The new spinoff on HBO Max reveals the same secret to all of its viewers right off the bat in episode one with a twist I can safely say I would have never seen coming.

Welcome Back Upper East Siders…

The show dives into the lives of the Upper East Side friend group of Julien (Jordan Alexander), Zoya (Whitney Peak), Max (Thomas Doherty), Audrey (Emily Lind), Aki (Evan Mock), Obie (Eli Brown), Luna (Zion Moreno) and Monet (Savannah Lee Smith).

Something magical about this show is the new sense of love within all the friends. Although there is conflict between them at times, it comes from a place of sincere care. It is well paired with the nostalgia that Kristen Bell’s return as Gossip Girl brings — a voice that alludes comfort to many generations of viewers.

The sister relationship between Zoya and Julien is a special addition to the series, bringing a sense of truthfulness and heart to a show that is encompassed by factitious gossip.

The show focuses strongly on the teachers of Constance and St. Jude’s — they are Gossip Girl. Led by Kate Keller (Tavi Gevinson), the teachers create the Gossip Girl identity in order to put the students back in line. Rather than a blog, Gossip Girl manifests in the form of Instagram, leaving the account’s direct messages open for students to submit their secrets to the school. The twist of having the teachers be the gossip-spreading machine allows for a new perspective separate from the original. 

Relationships and Representation

Something reminiscent of the old series is the dynamic between the parental figures of the show and the teenagers. There is a sense of heart the show derives from these relationships that allows for moments of mellow realism within the fast-paced chaos that the walls of Constance and St. Jude’s hold.

Compared to the original show, the new cast has more diverse characters and better representation. There are many LGBTQ+ relationships on this show that reflect a more inclusive and realistic space for the show’s viewers to witness and immerse themselves in. Although there have been massive strides taken towards a more inclusive environment, there is still room to grow.

I am excited to see the relationships in the show flourish and grow in directions that offer both nostalgia and compelling new stories. After watching this first half of season one, I think that Bell’s Gossip Girl voice is one that will continue to echo in the minds of the show’s viewers for years to come. 


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