Nothing says high school like a "Gossip Girl" reboot.
On the heels of New York City parents relying to independent secondary schools to secure their children’s places comes the lowdown on GG for Gen-Z. Yes, the show that re-enforced the UES’s reputation for turning out ultra-rich, spoiled, conniving teenagers who hang on the steps of The Met and tool around NYC in limos, and entered into our lexicon the salutation XOXO is on its way.
Thank you, HBO Max.
Eight years after the teen series said good-bye to Blair, Serena, Nate, Chuck, Dan, Jenny & Co., the premium cable network has ordered ten episodes that are shooting now and set to air in May. The original show’s creators are on board, but not the original cast members, although they’ll be spoken of in that “legends of the school” type of way.
Here’s the synopsis: “A new generation of New York private school teens are introduced to the social surveillance of 'Gossip Girl.' The prestige series will address just how much social media – and the landscape of New York itself – has changed in the intervening years.”
This seems to be more than lip service. Despite the fact that Kristen Bell will once again be the show’s narrator, the leads, portrayed as juniors at the still fictional Constance Billard for Girls and St. Jude’s for Boys, will be actors of color, with the content addressing LBGTQ issues. Not everyone will be from the UES but something tells me they’ll all be influencers.
What else is different? Instagram, Twitter and selfies, oh my. (All too much for the original gang’s Sidekick phones to have handled.) Plus, now there’s Uber and the Q train, and coming from Brooklyn isn’t viewed as being a pariah, as were the Humphrey sibs back in the day. In fact, the BK is now cooler than many parts of Manhattan.
Will anything remain the same? Well, headbands, a la Blair Waldorf, are back, this time with big knots in the center for that tiara look.
Sins of the Past
Perhaps this new iteration can make up for some of the sins of the past portrayals:
· I have no doubt that there were/are wealthy NYC kids who’ve gotten Chanel bags and the like for their Sweet 16s, but wearing them to school? Shoving a text book in a Birkin? No. Just No.
· Dan Humphrey, as a high school junior, got published in The New Yorker, ‘cause it’s that easy.
· They went to a private school where the dress code was never enforced. The girls were always one detention slip away from full on plaid-skirted fashionista.
· Although there are some successful entrepreneurs in NYC who began their businesses with seed money from their well-off parents, the idea that Jenny (still in high school), Chuck and Nate (recent HS grads), had even half of the abilities needed to run their own empires — a fashion line, a night club and newspaper, respectively — was a slight to impresarios everywhere.
· No bartender or waitress ever carded these clearly underage kids who drank martinis. Mar-ti-nis.
· They all went to NYU. With all due respect to this acclaimed university, the parents of this bunch had Ivy League tattooed on them at birth, and would have built a new wing or pulled a Lori Loughlin to get their kids in.
Let’s hope Gossip Girl 2.0 keeps the unrealistic expectations to a minimum, not just for Manhattan’s Class of 2024, but its moms.
As a mother of two 20-somethings who were in grammar then high school during the first GG go ‘round from 2007 to 2012, I will say that as fun as it could be to watch pretty people in beautiful outfits flitting about the city, it had its frustrations outside of the aforementioned.
One begins fielding innocent questions like, why don’t we live in a hotel? ...have a chauffeur? ... or live-in servants? Can we fly private next time we go somewhere?
In a city as expensive as ours, when you do your best to give your children what it has to offer, you don’t need to be made to feel less than, especially by a TV show. X Oh No.
Lorraine Duffy Merkl is the author of the novels "Fat Chick" and "Back to Work She Goes."