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Gossip Girl reboot Review HBO Max Gossip Girl39; reboot is a stunning failure through

Gossip Girl reboot Review HBO Max  Gossip Girl39; reboot is a stunning failure through

Gossip Girl

Gossip Girl reboot Review HBO Max Gossip Girl39; reboot is a stunning failure through

Gossip Girl Returns: Grade the Series Premiere of HBO Max's Meta … Thu, 08 Jul 2021 08:00:00 -0700-HBO Max's reboot of CW's teen drama "Gossip Girl" is an atrocious and shallow attempt at a money grab.

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Review: HBO Max’s ‘Gossip Girl’ reboot is a stunning failure through an Instagram filter. XOXO.

July 08, 2021

“Gossip Girl” should have stayed dead. 

From 2007-12, CW's drama starring Blake Lively, Leighton Meester and Penn Badgley detailed the lifestyles of the rich and famous among Manhattan's upper echelon of teens. It was decadent, sexy, ridiculous and juicy, the kind of series that helped build CW's reputation as a youth network and turned Lively into a star. 

It is also the kind of series that is nearly impossible to replicate successfully. 

But that's not stopping HBO Max from its latest remake out of the Warner Bros. library, with a new crop of privileged students at an elite New York high school (streaming Thursdays, ★ out of four). Based on the books by Cecily von Ziegesar and the CW series from Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage, the new version, from original writer Joshua Safran, captures none of its predecessor's essence. Unlike similar sequels such as CW's “90210” or Peacock's “Saved by the Bell,” none of the original cast members are involved in the new series, although it never misses a chance to name-drop former characters.  

While CW's “Gossip” wasn't always well written, it was unfailingly entertaining; HBO Max's version rarely falls into that second category. It's a cringe-worthy slog, full of unappealing acting, atrocious writing and plot twists that verge on the sociopathic. 

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On paper, a Generation Z reboot of the millennial classic seems like a very good idea. After all, “Gossip” was a prescient story about the dangers and complications of living our lives online, something that has only become more true in nearly a decade since the CW series went off the air. But not even the return of Kristen Bell's lilting narration as Gossip Girl can save the bad dialogue she's forced to spew. 

The series focuses on Julien Calloway (Jordan Alexander) the Queen Bee of not just the school but of New York itself and her wealthy friends. Julien is the daughter of a famous musician and an Instagram influencer. Her social circle includes Luna (Zión Moreno) and Monet (Savannah Smith), Julien's unofficial publicist and agent; Obie (Eli Brown), her well-intentioned boyfriend; Aki (Evan Mock) and Audrey (Emily Alyn Lynd), an insecure couple; and Max (Thomas Doherty) the smarmy stand-in for Chuck Bass (Ed Westwick) of the original series. 

More:How to watch 'Gossip Girl'

Everything is peachy keen in the lives of the teens until Zoya (Whitney Peak) enrolls at school. Zoya is Julien's estranged half-sister; their mother left Julien's father for Zoya's and then died while giving birth to Zoya. Unbeknownst to their friends or families, Zoya and Julien connected on social media and conspired to go to the same school. What should be a sweet reunion sparks unending drama. And it's all documented, and at times orchestrated, by the seemingly omniscient “Gossip Girl,” now an Instagram user copying the antics of the onetime blogger, this time sharing snaps of the teens in compromising situations.

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What makes this “Gossip” stand out from the original – other than stealing a bit of the “One Tree Hill” plot when it comes to half-siblings – is its inclusion of the teachers as major characters, particularly Kate Keller (Tavi Gevinson, an influencer turned actress), who are inappropriately entangled in the lives of their students. HBO Max has asked critics to refrain from spoiling too much of this plot, but it is the most bafflingly terrible part of the series. 

More:The 50 best TV shows to watch on HBO Max right now: 'Hacks,' 'Sex and the City'

The biggest sin of this “Gossip” is that the writers seem to understand little of their subjects. The characters don't act or sound like teenagers (“don't straight-shame me” is among the most asinine lines). The use of social media doesn't feel particularly hip, and even the adult characters are stiff and nonsensical rather than fully formed humans. Except for the sex-crazed Max, played by Doherty with a bit of charm and allure, none of the characters have romantic or platonic chemistry. They are akin to the fake robot influencers created by crafty coders – automatons that say what their puppet masters think are all the right things but are very wrong indeed. 

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There is something so pathologically deranged about the reboot that it inevitably will win some fans. They'll come for its flaws, for the messy narrative, humorously bad acting and absurd plot twists. But this is not the kind of show that deserves acclaim for its inanity. It should not be rewarded for a plot in which adults' behavior verges on child abuse, for acting that's so terrible that community theaters would be appalled, nor for being one more mismanaged attempt to portray Generation Z as entitled, overly woke brats who get what's coming to them. 

More:2021 TV premiere dates, from 'Ted Lasso' to 'Nine Perfect Strangers' to 'American Horror Story'

We are living in the age of reboots and remakes, as the ever-increasing number of streaming services compete for subscribers nostalgic for stories they've seen before. So maybe the return of “Gossip” was inevitable. But ifthere was a better way to update this story for 2021 as insightful, fun and steamy, and maybe even besting the original, this certainly isn't it. 

This is the laziest kind of reboot, one that hopes you'll be too distracted by a familiar title to realize the actual end product is terrible. But it's an abject failure, no matter how many times Gossip Girl says “XOXO.”  

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Review: HBO Max's 'Gossip Girl' reboot is a stunning failure through … Thu, 08 Jul 2021 08:00:00 -0700-Spotted: the series premiere of HBO Max's 'Gossip Girl' reboot. But is it a worthy successor, or just a queen wannabe?

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Gossip Girl Returns: Grade the Series Premiere of HBO Max’s Meta Reboot

July 08, 2021

Fourteen years after Serena van der Woodsen’s iconic walk through Grand Central, HBO Max is inviting viewers back into the world of Gossip Girl via another blonde on a train. Only things are quite different this time around.

For starters, this ain’t Metro North. It’s the New York City subway system. And the woman in question isn’t a glamorous young socialite, but rather a teacher (played by Tavi Gevinson) at her wit’s end. As an educator at the now-coed Constance Billard school, Kate Keller longs for the simpler days when students respected authority and adhered to boundaries. In other words, the days of Gossip Girl.

And can you blame her? The student body is crawling with egomaniacal monsters, like Monet (Savannah Smith), who reacts to her teachers’ arrival at school by loudly declaring, “Eww! Don’t they have their own entrance or something?” And when a student accidentally bumps into Kate, nearly causing her to spill coffee on the student’s pricey bag, Monet takes the opportunity to remind Kate that she’s lucky she missed the bag — it would have taken her a month’s salary to replace it. Like I said, monsters!

Thus, out of necessity for social law and order, Gossip Girl is born reborn. Only instead of publishing secrets via an old-school blog (a la Dan Humphrey, “the novelist!”), the teachers opt to create an Instagram account for the titular tattler. They initially try to revive Gossip Girl via Twitter, but it doesn’t take long for them to realize that it isn’t 2012 anymore, so they pivot to a more influential platform.

And who better to target than the most popular clique in school: Julien (Jordan Alexander), a fashion influencer with a bitchin’ buzz cut; her boyfriend Obie (Eli Brown), who’s as woke as his family is wealthy; Max (Thomas Doherty), whose affinity for pills and sex leads to near-daily shenanigans; Audrey (Emily Alyn Lind), who’s currently navigating a sexual rough patch with boyfriend Aki (Evan Mock); and Luna (Zión Moreno), another manipulative sidekick who helps Monet manage Julien’s image both on and off social media.

The premiere also introduces us to new-girl Zoya (Whitney Peak), who just so happens to be Julien’s half-sister. Everyone at school knows this, but no one — not even Julien’s closest frenemies — is aware that she and Zoya secretly conspired to make their late mother’s wish come true by finally meeting. In fact, Julien was instrumental in Zoya’s transfer from her old school, even if Zoya doesn’t know how instrumental until Gossip Girl reveals that Julien secretly paid for her entire scholarship.

Zoya furiously exits her own welcome party, but she learns that there’s no escape from the drama — especially when “the drama” is an overzealous teacher creepily taking pictures of you undressing from across the street. A shot of her and Obie drying their rain-soaked clothes is meant to be a silver bullet, but Julien dodges it by recognizing that Gossip Girl is clearly distorting the truth to take her down. (A leading lady who sees through Gossip Girl’s B.S. on Day 1? How curiously refreshing!)

Julien thinks she and Zoya can get the upper hand by staging a fight ahead of Julien’s walk in New York Fashion Week, but Monet and Luna have other plans. The show’s resident Flotsam and Jetsam steal Zoya’s phone, convince Max to snap a dick pic with it, then airdrop it to everyone at the fashion show… just as Julien makes her runway debut. Julien once again understands that Zoya meant no harm, but the fact that Julien was A-OK with her friends doing that to her doesn’t sit well with Zoya. In fact, it doesn’t sit well with Obie either, as Julien’s Prince Charming practically tucks and rolls out of a limousine just to get away from her.

Let the games begin!

Also worth discussing…

* For some reason, I’m irrationally fixated on the scene where Obie and Zoya casually stroll through New York City during what is objectively a torrential downpour. If it’s raining and I don’t have an umbrella, I’m running to my destination. Are kids today not afraid of catching colds? Youth is wasted on the young.

* Did anybody else get full-body chills when Kristen Bell spoke for the first time? It was a little funny knowing whose words she was bringing to life, but OMFG, if the mere sound of that voice didn’t transport me right back to 2007. It made me want to walk outside and toss my LG Chocolate into the nearest trash.

* L-O-L @ Nate Archibald being mentioned alongside Caroline Kennedy and Colson Whitehead as one of the “great people” this school has produced.

* As a twosome, Audrey and Aki are a bit of a snooze, but their seemingly mutual attraction to Max? Consider me intrigued.

* I don’t actually think this is going to happen, but I’m saying it anyway just so that it’s documented in case I’m right: Could Julien and Zoya’s mother… still be alive?

OK, let’s talk: How are you feeling about the new Gossip Girl so far? Any favorite (or least favorite) characters? Weigh in via our polls below, then drop a comment with your full review. 

Fourteen years after Serena van der Woodsen’s iconic walk through Grand Central, HBO Max is inviting viewers back into the world of Gossip Girl via another blonde on a train. Only things are quite different this time around.

For starters, this ain’t Metro North. It’s the New York City subway system. And the woman in question isn’t a glamorous young socialite, but rather a teacher (played by Tavi Gevinson) at her wit’s end. As an educator at the now-coed Constance Billard school, Kate Keller longs for the simpler days when students respected authority and adhered to boundaries. In other words, the days of Gossip Girl.

And can you blame her? The student body is crawling with egomaniacal monsters, like Monet (Savannah Smith), who reacts to her teachers’ arrival at school by loudly declaring, “Eww! Don’t they have their own entrance or something?” And when a student accidentally bumps into Kate, nearly causing her to spill coffee on the student’s pricey bag, Monet takes the opportunity to remind Kate that she’s lucky she missed the bag — it would have taken her a month’s salary to replace it. Like I said, monsters!

Thus, out of necessity for social law and order, Gossip Girl is born reborn. Only instead of publishing secrets via an old-school blog (a la Dan Humphrey, “the novelist!”), the teachers opt to create an Instagram account for the titular tattler. They initially try to revive Gossip Girl via Twitter, but it doesn’t take long for them to realize that it isn’t 2012 anymore, so they pivot to a more influential platform.

And who better to target than the most popular clique in school: Julien (Jordan Alexander), a fashion influencer with a bitchin’ buzz cut; her boyfriend Obie (Eli Brown), who’s as woke as his family is wealthy; Max (Thomas Doherty), whose affinity for pills and sex leads to near-daily shenanigans; Audrey (Emily Alyn Lind), who’s currently navigating a sexual rough patch with boyfriend Aki (Evan Mock); and Luna (Zión Moreno), another manipulative sidekick who helps Monet manage Julien’s image both on and off social media.

The premiere also introduces us to new-girl Zoya (Whitney Peak), who just so happens to be Julien’s half-sister. Everyone at school knows this, but no one — not even Julien’s closest frenemies — is aware that she and Zoya secretly conspired to make their late mother’s wish come true by finally meeting. In fact, Julien was instrumental in Zoya’s transfer from her old school, even if Zoya doesn’t know how instrumental until Gossip Girl reveals that Julien secretly paid for her entire scholarship.

Zoya furiously exits her own welcome party, but she learns that there’s no escape from the drama — especially when “the drama” is an overzealous teacher creepily taking pictures of you undressing from across the street. A shot of her and Obie drying their rain-soaked clothes is meant to be a silver bullet, but Julien dodges it by recognizing that Gossip Girl is clearly distorting the truth to take her down. (A leading lady who sees through Gossip Girl’s B.S. on Day 1? How curiously refreshing!)

Julien thinks she and Zoya can get the upper hand by staging a fight ahead of Julien’s walk in New York Fashion Week, but Monet and Luna have other plans. The show’s resident Flotsam and Jetsam steal Zoya’s phone, convince Max to snap a dick pic with it, then airdrop it to everyone at the fashion show… just as Julien makes her runway debut. Julien once again understands that Zoya meant no harm, but the fact that Julien was A-OK with her friends doing that to her doesn’t sit well with Zoya. In fact, it doesn’t sit well with Obie either, as Julien’s Prince Charming practically tucks and rolls out of a limousine just to get away from her.

Let the games begin!

Also worth discussing…

* For some reason, I’m irrationally fixated on the scene where Obie and Zoya casually stroll through New York City during what is objectively a torrential downpour. If it’s raining and I don’t have an umbrella, I’m running to my destination. Are kids today not afraid of catching colds? Youth is wasted on the young.

* Did anybody else get full-body chills when Kristen Bell spoke for the first time? It was a little funny knowing whose words she was bringing to life, but OMFG, if the mere sound of that voice didn’t transport me right back to 2007. It made me want to walk outside and toss my LG Chocolate into the nearest trash.

* L-O-L @ Nate Archibald being mentioned alongside Caroline Kennedy and Colson Whitehead as one of the “great people” this school has produced.

* As a twosome, Audrey and Aki are a bit of a snooze, but their seemingly mutual attraction to Max? Consider me intrigued.

* I don’t actually think this is going to happen, but I’m saying it anyway just so that it’s documented in case I’m right: Could Julien and Zoya’s mother… still be alive?

OK, let’s talk: How are you feeling about the new Gossip Girl so far? Any favorite (or least favorite) characters? Weigh in via our polls below, then drop a comment with your full review. 


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– July 8, 2021
Gossip Girl

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