Why the Gossip Girl Reboot Might Actually Work
You know, when I first saw the news of the Gossip Girl reboot a few days ago, I didn’t think much of it. Yeah, sure, whatever. Just because I spent my teenage years consuming the books and TV series and the spin-offs with an avaricious hunger that is only triggered when I’m a hormonal teenager crushing hard on Blake Lively doesn’t mean I actually still care about it. I mean, the series is trash – pulp of the highest order. I’m grown now. I watch films and describe the camera work as “dynamic”. I don’t have room in my Meaty galaxy brain for stuff like Gossip Girl anymore.
But who is this bitch kidding? I love trash, and I love scrabbling about in pop culture’s little doings like that time my Dalmatian ate a mini snooker set and we had to make sure that he’d gotten all the balls out. And Gossip Girl is actually a series that I think is perfectly time for a reboot.
And look, I would ask you now to put the TV series out of your mind. There’s actually a lot that I love about that series, not least it’s passionate commitment to classic movie references and full-blown recreations of scenes from oblique Audrey Hepburn flicks as a way of putting across a character’s emotional state (no, I’m not kidding, you snob). But at it’s heart, the Gossip Girl TV show was really an excuse to get pretty people together and make them smooch up on each other, the televisual equivalent of smashing Barbie and Ken dolls together that featured about the same amount of nuance.
But what I would like you to replace that with is the notion of the books. The series, which spanned more than a dozen stories, was concieved and written by Cecily von Ziegsar, and at the time that I read it, it was actually revelatory. Scandalous and despised by many a parent’s council, it featured teen sex, drug use, and mental health problems, it was so juicy and ridiculous and lusciously readable that I devoured the lot within a year.
It was only recently that I actually remembered these books existed – was it because I was thinking about this, the greatest joke ever made? Maybe. But looking back at them, I think there was probably more to these books than I gave them credit for. Dan, a bland writer in the series, is a pointedly tortured poet who obsesses over obscure literature yet deeply resents his outsider status, his burgeoning talent undercut by his own pretentious ache to join a society he isn’t welcome in. Vanessa, a gorgeous college student in the show, is a fat, bald, female filmmaker whose aggressive commitment to the ugly allows the series to have a poke around in what being a true outsider means. Chuck is a repellant sleaze with enough connections that people can’t shake him; Nate is a handsome dimwit who gropes his way through life based on his privileged. Blair is one of the all-time great young adult leading women, a true antihero who schemes and scrabbles her way to the top.
All set against the sprawling backdrop of New York – from the modern art scene to the politics of college admissions – this is Sweet Valley High by way of Brett Easton Ellis (if Brett Easton Ellis had written more than two-thirds of a good book, but you get me!). Ziegsar, whether you enjoy her prose or not (I actually love it, even still), does a fantastic job both adulating and criticizing the community she’s exploring. At least, those were the tones the earlier books managed to capture, and by far – by far – the most interesting thing the Gossip Girl behemoth put out into the world. Now that is a show I want to see.
And the fact that this reboot is taking place on HBO (home of the prestige and also titties) seems to indicate that they’re not just shooting for another formulaic teen drama. The series is set eight years into the future., leaving behind the hackneyed, played-out characters that we left behind. And I’m hoping that, by casting off the previous iteration of the show, we’re going to get something that manages to capture the snappily incisive wit and wisdom of the books. I’m holding off judgement until I can get my hands on the first episode – which you know for damn sure I’ll be writing about – but right now, I’m cautiously optimistic about what this new version of the show can bring.
What about you? Are you looking forward to this new series, or do you think it should be left alone? Let me know in the comments below! And, if you liked this article and want to see more stuff like it, please consider supporting me on Patreon.
(header image via Metro)
I never finished the original but remember it fondly enough, so will probably check this out. My interest is a little more piqued now that I know it’s on HBO. Those novels also sound a damn sight better than the original show. Some of the changes they made are interesting.