'Gossip Girl' Reboot: Everything We Know About the New Class of Upper East Siders
By Philiana Ng
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Hey, Upper East Siders, word on the street is Gossip Girl is back with a splashy new update on HBO Max, WarnerMedia’s streaming service that launched May 27. Will S and B be spotted once again on the steps of the Met? How is Lonely Boy faring after the revelation that he’s the all-knowing gossip maven?
Unfortunately, we don’t get answers to those specific questions in Gossip Girl 2.0 because it will feature an entirely new generation of wealthy private school teens calling Constance Billard and St. Jude’s home. And because it’s 2020, a lot has changed since the days of Gossip Girl yore. Instead of the main hook revolving around who Gossip Girl is, the new series takes place eight years after the original website went dark and will address just how much social media -- and the landscape of New York itself -- has changed since then.
With rumors swirling since last January about a Gossip Girl return, every morsel of information about this new version of the teen classic has been dissected a hundred different ways -- and as more details come out, we’ll be here to keep you up to date.
Where will the new Gossip Girl air? HBO Max
When will it premiere? No premiere date has been announced, but it was expected to debut later this year. HBO Max's chief content officer Kevin Reilly confirmed to Vulture in May that it won't launch until 2021. It is unclear how HBO Max plans to roll out the episodes.
How many episodes will there be? 10 one-hour episodes have been ordered for the first season. Sarah Aubrey, HBO Max’s head of original content, shared in January that the first script has been turned in and “it’s quite good.”
When does filming begin? Production was originally set to begin in the spring, but due to coronavirus concerns, the start date has been pushed back to the end of October, according to Variety. The new Gossip Girl cast was spotted filming on the steps of the Met on Nov. 10.
Who is behind the new series? Joshua Safran, who oversaw the final seasons of Gossip Girl, returns as showrunner, as will original executive producers Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage.
What will the Gossip Girl reboot be about? It will take place eight years after the original website went dark (and after Penn Badgley's Dan Humphrey revealed himself to be Gossip Girl) as a new generation of New York private school teens are introduced to the social surveillance of Gossip Girl. The series will address just how much social media -- and the landscape of New York itself -- has changed in the intervening years. The crux of the new Gossip Girl won't revolve around the mystery of who the gossip maven actually is, but rather another twist that's yet to be revealed.
Who are the new Upper East Siders? The new class of privileged millennials will be led by Emily Alyn Lind (Code Black), who will play Audrey Hope, who has been in a long-term relationship and is beginning to wonder what else is out there, ET confirms. Lind told ET she's "already in love" with her character and that the new series will "touch on specific subjects that are really relevant to today's society."
Eli Brown (Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists) will play Otto “Obie” Bergmann IV. Brown offered hints on the character he's playing in the new series, telling ET in June, "My character's a really good guy. He comes from a very wealthy family and he's a humanitarian."
Other members of the new Gossip Girl cast include Adam Chaler-Berat, Johnathan Fernandez and Jason Gotay.
While we wait to learn more about the new crop of Upper East Siders, one thing we do know: They won’t be blueprints of the series’ original characters, Schwartz revealed, so don’t expect a “Serena” or a “Blair” in the HBO Max series -- at least on paper. And speculation that the update will feature a character (or characters) who are children of the original crew or secretly related to an original family was also shut down.
Are any original cast members returning?Kristen Bell, who narrated the original Gossip Girl for its entire run on The CW, will return in the same capacity. Bell told ET in November she’s “excited” to be back in the universe.
Schwartz has said the original stars, who became household names following Gossip Girl, have an open invitation should they ever wish to drop by. “They played these characters for six years, and if they felt like they were good with that, we want to respect that, but obviously ... it would be great to see them again," he said in July 2019.
Safran revealed that Serena van der Woodsen, Blair Waldorf, Dan Humphrey, Nate Archibald and Chuck Bass will live on in the reboot and will often be referred to by other characters. "They are a part of the world. The characters talk about them and that they do exist,” he told ET in December. “The [original] show jumped five years in the future when it ended and we are past that five years now, so it's whole new things that they could be doing."
What have original cast members said? Badgley, who has been vocal about his icy relationship with Dan Humphrey, said he hasn’t spoken to Schwartz or Savage about reprising his character. “That's a message I gotta put at the top of my inbox, you know, to think about... I would love to contribute in a meaningful way to it. And I guess it would just depend on a lot of things,” the You star told ET in December. "It would depend on how and why he's there and I don't know...”
Last February, Chace Crawford, who played Nate on the original series, left the door open for a possible cameo but cautioned that he didn’t see a clear path "to get everyone back together." "I'm always up for anything,” The Boys actor told ET. “That was such a good part of my life and experience, and hell, if they throw in shooting in New York City again, I'm there."
Blake Lively confirmed in January that she isn’t “involved” with the reboot in any way, while Leighton Meester told ET in 2017 -- years before the reboot was greenlit -- that she wouldn’t rule out returning as Blair. “It’s hard to say,” she said at the time. “If everyone was into it and the timing was right… I don’t want to say, ‘No, never.’” Ed Westwick told Radio Times in 2017 that he would potentially be interested if the money was right: “I’ll do it then. Hundred percent. Course you will!”
What sets the Gossip Girl reboot apart from the original? While the blueprint of the series will remain intact -- they will attend the same schools (Constance Billard School for Girls, St. Jude’s for Boys) and will primarily be set on the Upper East Side (though not everyone will live there) -- there are some significant differences. For one thing, the new Gossip Girl will approach the theme of social surveillance with a 2020 lens.
“The first time around, when the show started, people were checking in places on Foursquare and updating their locations on Facebook -- things we would never do now because we don't want anyone to know where we are. That change alone changes the dynamic of what Gossip Girl means and how Gossip Girl interacts with the kids this day and age, so I think it's gonna be really interesting to see,” Safran told ET in December. “The modern age reflected through Gossip Girl."
With the new iteration on a streaming service versus broadcast television, Schwartz said in August there will be more freedom to be provocative and a little NSFW when it comes to language. But “it won't feel button-pushing just for the sake of being able to do it. Maybe a couple of s***s we'll throw in there just 'cause we can," he explained, saying it won’t be as hard-hitting as HBO’s controversial teen drama, Euphoria.
As the initial castings for the reboot have illustrated, the reboot promises to be more inclusive than the original series and accurately represent New York City demographics in 2020. That includes more LGBTQ-centric stories, as well. "There was not a lot of representation the first time around on the show," Safran said at Vulture Festival in November. "So, this time around the leads are nonwhite. There’s a lot of queer content on this show. It is very much dealing with the way the world looks now, where wealth and privilege come from, and how you handle that. The thing I can’t say is there is a twist, and that all relates to the twist."