Gossip Girl is coming back, but this time around, the show’s creators are suggesting that the people on display kinda feel bad for all the money they have. So, the HBO Max reboot of the 2007 series is billed as a different kind of animal. The original show very much felt like young adults doing rich adult-people things despite still technically being in high school. But this time, the uncanny valley-like gap between how the real world works for most people and the show’s canon will be a bit smaller. Namely, the rich kids that the show centers around will take a different kind of transportation around New York. But, you know, definitely not the MTA.
Variety published a feature on the upcoming reboot on Monday, and the piece makes it clear that we won’t see the same celebration of the young and hyper-wealthy that the original was this time around. The apparent vibe is that being wealthy is not all it’s cracked up to be, and the revival intends to “avoid glorifying its characters’ wealth and exorbitant lifestyles in the 2021 version of the show.”
Here’s a key excerpt from the Variety feature:
“These kids wrestle with their privilege in a way that I think the original didn’t,” says “Gossip Girl” showrunner Josh Safran. “In light of [Black Lives Matter], in light of a lot of things, even going back to Occupy Wall Street, things have shifted.”
Unlike Chuck Bass, the “Gossip Girl” crew of 2021 is aware of income inequality. They take Ubers, not limos. They’re (mostly) not rude to service workers. And Zoya Lott, played by Whitney Peak — the new iteration of the grounded, middle class, fish-out-of-water Dan Humphrey — is a scholarship student at the upscale Constance Billard school, the implications of which will be explored in nearly every episode.
“I think the first [‘Gossip Girl’] showed a little bit of wealth porn or privilege porn, like, ‘Look at these cars, or here’s a montage of the best plated food you’ve ever seen,’” says Safran.
For some, of course, the “privilege porn” of Gossip Girl was entirely the point. And there are plenty of fans of the soapy shows in that vein who are unconcerned about its apparent lack of social critique. But the shift also does reflect the era that the show will resurface in, one that is seemingly much more aware of wealth disparity and inequality because, well, that’s only growing larger and more pronounced.
The real question is, perhaps, whether the show can still be entertaining in this new light, or if the plotlines of wealthy people grappling with their wealth are actually interesting. For that, well, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what those Uber rides look like on HBO Max.