It’s been nearly a decade since Gossip Girl gave her farewell “XOXO, Gossip Girl” and went off the air. And now, the hit TV show is coming back. The new version — set to premiere in 2021 — shares the same name and takes place in the same universe as the original drama, but there are a few key differences.
First, the new Gossip Girl will debut on HBO Max, which allows the show’s writers to play with more adult themes than would have been allowed on The CW (home of the original Gossip Girl). Second, it’s not exactly a spinoff, nor is it a true reboot. In the words of the eponymous narrator herself, “And who am I?” Well, that’s one secret that Gossip Girl’s executive producer will tell.
Where did the original ‘Gossip Girl’ leave its major characters?
Hey Upper East Siders, here’s a quick refresher on what went down during Gossip Girl‘s run from 2007 to 20012. Every episode began the same, with Gossip Girl (voice acted by Kristen Bell) promising to give audiences a peek “into the scandalous lives of Manhattan’s elite.”
Manhattan it-girl Serena van der Woodsen (played by Blake Lively) led the glitzy, wealthy group alongside her best friend — and occasional frenemy — Blair Waldorf (Leighton Meester). Rounding out the group was Nate Archibald (Chace Crawford), Chuck Bass (Ed Westwick), and outsiders Dan Humphrey (Penn Badgley) and Jenny Humphrey (Taylor Momsen).
The show followed the teenagers as they navigated the drama of prep school, dating, and dealing with the anonymous blogger from which the show gets its name. In the sixth and final season, the identity of Gossip Girl gets revealed. Dan and Serena, the show’s perennial will-they-or-won’t-they couple, get married. We see Chuck and Blair raising their son. And even peripheral characters like Lily and William get a tidy wrap-up of their storylines.
The new ‘Gossip Girl’ has been in the works for a while
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The original Gossip Girl was a critical success, with outlets like Rolling Stone and New York Magazine noting how influential and impactful the teen drama was. The mayor of New York City even proclaimed an official Gossip Girl Day, reports the Village Voice. And while the show was a ratings smash, it hasn’t exactly aged well in some cases.
For instance, New York University’s Furman Center reports that the city has long been one of the most racially diverse cities in America. Yet most of the cast of the original Gossip Girl were either white or white-passing actors. Likewise, while side character Eric van der Woodsen comes out as gay in season one and has a few boyfriends, the show was fairly heteronormative.
In the past, Joshua Safran (the executive producer of the original Gossip Girl) has even told Vulture that he wished his show had more diverse characters and stories. Thus, it was only a matter of time before audiences were invited back into the Gossip Girl universe featuring a more diverse set of characters.
In 2019, the Hollywood Reporter announced that Gossip Girl was coming back, headed up by Safran, as well as Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage (creators of the original show). “It’s something we’ve been talking about — Josh, Stephanie and I — for a little bit,” Safran told the media outlet. He said they were so in love with the original drama that they jumped at the chance to dive back in.
The new ‘Gossip Girl’ is not a reboot
When the Hollywood Reporter first broke the news of the reimagined Gossip Girl back in 2019, Safran told the outlet that “none of us are interested in just redoing a story.” A lot has changed in the Gossip Girl universe, and the characters and city we saw in 2007 look a lot different today.
According to E!, Safran wants the new show to have more cultural representation and reflect more diversity than the original cast. And while he says the show will be set in the same city and even at the same prep school, it will not be a reboot or a reset, but rather a modern, current extension of the original story.
“I really wanted this to feel like an extension and in no way a reboot,” Safran posted on Twitter in September 2020. “So it’s an evolution of the story, not a retread.”
The producers have been mum on more specific details. However, we do know from E! that the new show will focus more on queer characters, that most of its main leads are non-white actors, and that the show will revolve around a major twist. But the specifics of said twist, and the exact release date for the reimagined Gossip Girl, is still under wraps. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic affected the production of the new show, which was pushed back numerous times. According to Deadline, filming finally began in November 2020.