GOSSIP GIRL: Let's Break Down that Big Premiere Twist - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

GOSSIP GIRL: Let’s Break Down that Big Premiere Twist

July 8, 2021 by  

GOSSIP GIRL series premiere

Credit: HBO Max

[Warning: This post contains spoilers for The CW’s run of GOSSIP GIRL as well as the HBO Max continuation.]

For much of the original run of GOSSIP GIRL, the titular character didn’t play a part of the overarching narrative. Sure, her scathing messages outed big secrets and terrorized the characters, but a good portion of the series functioned with it serving as a voiceover versus something the characters obsessed over. And even when the identity of the blogger became a big plot point in the show as the characters tried to unmask the person who had been terrorizing them, it took until the series finale for the reveal that, surprise, Dan (Penn Badgley) had been writing the posts all along.

The move wasn’t something the writers had planned from the start.

“For a while, I thought it was [Serena’s brother,] Eric,” Josh Safran, who worked on the original series and is now running the continuation, admitted in 2013. “We all thought it was Eric. But I don’t want to speak for anyone else, but I think it would have worked. But then Connor Paolo [who played Eric] wasn’t on the show anymore…I actually think it was better for all of us [to not have a person in mind] because it freed us up story-wise. I think if we had known, we would have gotten a little too suspended and wouldn’t have been able to do some of the plot stuff we were able to.”

The new series wasted no time, however, revealing the new Gossip Girl’s ID: the teachers, led by Kate (Tavi Gevinson).

On one hand, knowing who Gossip Girl is from the start gives the show new material to work with and a guarantee of plotlines the franchise never tackled before. And it being a group of people collaborating together makes a lot of sense as to how they could juggle it with their full-time job. (Even if Kate is the ringleader.) That’s great, in theory.

But the teachers?!

For as many issues as Dan being GG posed, he was also the kids’ equal, their peer. He was punching up, in many ways, because he was Lonely Boy, on the outskirts of a group he desperately wanted to be a part of. (Was it a betrayal, especially as he got closer to them? Absolutely. And there is zero way he should have ended up with Serena. But that’s a whole other thing.)

No matter how much privilege the students have, no matter how awful the teens act, the teachers are punching down. It’s as simple as that. They’re the adults, abusing their position of power and manipulating minors. This is an absolute betrayal, on every level.

And the fact they are targeting minors feels like a huge issue the show isn’t really prepared to deal with. A teacher took photos of two underage kids, half-dressed, without their consent, and conspired with another to put it online. I know nothing was explicitly shown, but…it certainly felt like there was a case to be made that Olivia Benson and the SVU squad should have been called in to put a freaking stop to that.

There’s a scene in the pilot where the teachers were looking at the previous Gossip Girl site and reveling in the mayhem the original group got up to, while pointing out how problematic the actions were. And, well, it doesn’t feel like this twist will age well. Frankly, it doesn’t feel like a good move even now.

What the show doesn’t seem to realize is just because the teachers acknowledge what they’re doing is wrong, it doesn’t make it okay/better. If you know you’re crossing a line and still cross it, uh, that’s a huge problem. And watching them do this, cause pain to people who don’t deserve it (really)…that’s rough. The CW’s GOSSIP GIRL would have read differently if we watched Dan craft these posts and then go try and woo Serena or Blair; there’s a level of cruelty here that doesn’t feel earned.

In success, it also poses an interesting problem for the show: The CW’s GOSSIP GIRL followed the core group of characters for the show’s run. If the teachers are behind the account for the duration of the new show, do they set their focus on new students as the current group ages out of school? Do they, uh, remain obsessed with former students post-graduation?

As it stands now, it feels like this reveal provides a little bit of temporary story juice, and dozens of truly troublesome and problematic issues the show doesn’t know how to handle. I hope to be surprised, but it’s not promising so far.

GOSSIP GIRL, Thursdays, HBO Max


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