HBO Max's much-anticipated Gossip Girl reboot is beginning production in New York City this October. The original CW series adapted Cecily von Ziegesar's popular young adult novels about rich NYC prep schoolers into eight seasons of Upper East Side teen drama. The premise is very privileged, very damaged main characters all addictively consult the blog, Gossip Girl, for rumors about young movers and shakers in their social milieu, often themselves.
The show was responsible for launching the careers of many of its actors, most notably Blake Lively, who starred as it-girl Serena van der Woodsen, Penn Badgley, who played disaffected outsider Dan Humphrey, and Leighton Meester for her role as Queen Bee Blair Waldorf. None of the original cast plans to return for the new era other than Kristen Bell, who voiced Gossip Girl but didn't appear as an actual character on the show. Waldorf and Chace Crawford, who played golden boy Nate Archibald, both said they weren't asked to come back.
Per Variety, a spokesperson from Warner Bros. has confirmed that filming in New York City for the upcoming reboot will start at the end of October, and that production has already begun in Vancouver and Los Angeles. CBS Television will also produce alongside WarnerMedia. Filming was supposed to begin in March of this year, but like most productions in the film industry, the project was put on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic. The people behind the Gossip Girl reboot all worked on the original in some capacity, with creators Josh Schwartz (The O.C.) and Stephanie Savage returning and Joshua Safran on board as a writer and executive producer. The new series has been picked up for 10 episodes.
The new version of Gossip Girl was pitched as a sequel rather than a remake, set eight years later in the present day. Much like the influential Canadian teen drama Degrassi, this iteration of the show will follow a different cast of characters rather than pick up where the first left off. Schwartz and Savage decided to refresh the neighborhood with mostly new and rising talent for the Gossip Girl reboot; the cast includes Emily Alyn Lind, Whitney Peak, Jonathan Fernandez, Jordan Alexander, Eli Brown, Jason Gotay, Zión Moreno, Adam Chanler-Berat, and Savannah Smith. Some viewers may recognize Thomas Doherty from Disney Channel's Descendants movies or Tavi Gevinson, the former editor-in-chief of Rookie, who's gone on to act and sing since the online magazine for teenage girls ended its run in 2017.
Safran said that the sequel will exist in the same universe as the original, likening the concept to the Marvel universe - although Blair Waldorf never tangled with any superheroes or supernatural elements, and the "universe" of the show appears by all accounts to be just New York. Safran also promised "a lot of queer content" in the reboot, which will tackle the power dynamics of the wealthy society it depicts. Because HBO Max, a streaming service, has more lax standards than The CW when it comes to adult content, the new generation will engage in even more scandalous activities than their forebears. Recent TV shows like Euphoria and 13 Reasons Why have endeavored to depict the dark reality of being a teenager, although credit should also be given to Skins, which debuted at the same time as Gossip Girl and presented an unvarnished version of adolescence partially written by the teenagers themselves.
The new series plans to explore how social media has changed the New York landscape, specifically the elite circle Gossip Girl's teenaged protagonists run in. It's an interesting angle and probably an unavoidable one, considering the original involved a blog that not only affected its characters and plot but eventually became them. For a salacious teen show that many considered a guilty pleasure, Gossip Girl was in some ways ahead of its time for its complex examination of how technology can dictate peoples' actions to the point of controlling their entire lives. Since 2007 when Gossip Girl premiered on The CW, social media has become so intertwined with real life as to be almost indistinguishable from it. Where the old Gossip Girl relied on tips from sources in the wild, her new avatar will only have to follow her subjects' social media accounts to find out what they're hiding.