Review: There Isn't Much to Gossip About in Tame 'Gossip Girl'

by Padraic Maroney

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Thursday July 8, 2021

Jordan Alexander Thomas Doherty Evan Mock Emily Alyn Lind in 'Gossip Girl'
Jordan Alexander Thomas Doherty Evan Mock Emily Alyn Lind in 'Gossip Girl'  (Source:HBO Max / Karolina Wojtasik)

Spotted: The revival of seminal teen drama "Gossip Girl" has finally arrived. Whereas the original caused an uproar with parents due to its salacious content, this continuation is bound to create a stir with the audience because its tedious and boring.

Blair, Serena, and crew are gone, but the specter of their exploits still haunt the halls at Constance as a new generation of teens suddenly finds their lives becoming fodder for the mysterious gossip queen. The problem is that this new crop isn't that interesting, and it's actually Gossip Girl who actually stirs the pot to create conflict.

With the students running amok and parents all too happy to get teachers fired for upsetting their precious scholars, Gossip Girl is brought back to restore fear and power into the world. This just happens to coincide with the arrival of new student Zoya Lott from Buffalo. She and Queen Bee Julien Calloway have hatched a plan bringing the new girl to town; but, as with any teen soap, the best laid plans often go awry.

Gone are the days where pranks meant having a friend break into your mother's boutique. In the first episode, one of the characters says that their group doesn't peer pressure. By the fourth episode that same character goes on record as being a bully and committing to stopping. This is a kinder, more woke version of "Gossip Girl." At least for the kids. The identity of Gossip Girl is revealed during the first episode, and knowing who it is gives the show an overall mean-spirited tone.

The teenaged characters are much less interesting this time around, so much so that the show runners have given ample screen time to their parents and teachers. While the acting isn't on par with the first series, a trio of actors show promise — if the writers can write to their strengths. Jordan Alexander, as Julien, is able to strike the right balance of playing the wounded debutante and flirty party girl looking to make the world a better place. Similar, Thomas Doherty and Emily Alyn Lind are cut from the Blair and Chuck molds, without pesky network censors. Doherty and Lind have a natural chemistry, and are a welcome presence whenever they come onscreen.

One of the only positive steps that the new incarnation has made is to be more inclusive. Not only is the cast ethnically diverse, but it also includes trans actress Zion Moreno. In the first four episodes that were made available to critics there was no mention of her character being trans. She's simply another girl in the squad. Additionally, many of the characters don't seem to be concerned with labeling their sexuality. This also leads to an increase in nudity that the original show could never have gotten away with showing.

A lot has changed since the original "Gossip Girl" went off the air almost a decade ago. In a world filled with "Riverdale," "Euphoria," and "Elite," the drugs, drinking, and sexual antics of these characters are no longer shocking — especially not in a show on a streaming service. Once the shock wore off of the mothership, there was plenty of fabulous clothing, extravagant events, and cattiness to keep you coming back. This incarnation doesn't have that same impact, and it feels like kids playing dress up a lot of the time. Frankly, there isn't much to gossip about here. Xoxo.

"Gossip Girl" is streams on HBO Max beginning July 8.