Gossip Girl reboot: sexuality, gender and race issues in new series

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It’s the much-anticipated TV reboot that’s getting everyone talking. And the new Gossip Girl tackles serious issues never explored in the original.

It has been a turbulent year in the United States with political upheaval, civil unrest and more cases of the coronavirus than any other country. So it’s amazing that a show about wealthy and privileged teens addresses these questions – all while having fun.

Still, the Gossip Girl reboot does all of that and more, adding hot topics like gender fluidity, sexual orientation, and heightened culture into the mix.

“Part of the DNA of the show is that it engages in public conversations and things that happen in the real world,” said executive producer Stephanie Savage, one of the co-creators of the show. original series 2007-2013. “We really want to feel like everything that has happened in the last couple of years is reflected in the material.”

With the first episode released on BINGE last week, viewers can already spot some hot topics that are emerging. Here, the people in charge of distribution and production tell us what else to expect.

The pandemic

Queen Bee Julien Calloway is getting ready for his first day at Constance Billiard School for Girls on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. “Normally, you’re not that excited for the first day of school,” her father said.

“It’s better than being stuck here for another year”, quips Julien, a nod to the state of emergency of Covid-19 which kept New Yorkers in confinement from March 2020 to May 2021 .

Perhaps the biggest role the coronavirus plays on the show is behind the scenes, with the show’s producers adhering to strict Covid-19 protocols in a series that has high levels of physical privacy.

“We never closed once. We really have an amazing Covid team working really hard to protect everyone, and we have a really good privacy coordinator who helped with that, ”revealed producer-writer Joshua Safran.

The super rich

When the original Gossip Girl aired in 2007, the phrase “one percent” hadn’t been coined yet, no one knew how to “verify their privileges” and the series was in season four when the financial crisis hit. global hit.

The reboot is more aware of the wealth gap.

“Ever heard of the rich culprits?” This one is the most guilty and the richest, ”says Julien of his real estate developer boyfriend Obie (Eli Brown). These characters struggle with their privilege, and Obie first bonds with Julien’s new daughter and half-sister, Zoya (Whitney Peak) over their common interest in an anti-gentrification charity. While Julien might be the Queen, she genuinely cares about her much poorer brother and secretly ships expensive goods to Zoya to give her a bit of fashion at school.

“We’re high school kids and whether we’re well off or not, these kids are always going through things and discovering things growing up,” says Evan Mock, who plays Aki. “So I feel like no matter how well off you are, you still have daily problems.”

Gender fluidity and sexual orientation

Gen Z are much less likely than previous generations to identify as heterosexual, with one in six people identifying as LGBT, according to Gallup.

Gossip Girl reflects this with gay, bi, pan, and trans characters – and plenty of experimentation in between.

“I’m a queer man and my experiences of being gay and the way I relate to it have changed over time,” said writer and producer Joshua Safran. “I understand the non-binary world. I’m not 17, my friend’s child is 17, so I’m going to ask her questions and I’m going to listen to what she says to me, and I’m not going to tell her that she is wrong.

Maximus, the “new Chuck” (Thomas Doherty), identifies as pansexual and intends to seduce his male teacher. “It’s been really interesting for me,” Doherty said. “Gossip Girl is a reflection of today’s society, for which I have a great deal of respect, and I have learned so much from it.”

He hopes viewers will be “much more open and inquiring, sexually, in terms of challenging their own preconceived notions of sexuality and what it means.” I think it will certainly broaden people’s minds and create a much more tolerant and accepting society. “

Zion Moreno (Luna) is among the actors who see a growing tendency among young people not to define themselves as straight or gay. “There is no need to label yourself,” she said. “You just live. You have just experienced. You just exist and try to help others along the way. Gossip Girl really shows it because almost everyone is queer on the show. “

Black Lives Matter and waking culture

When Zoya wins a scholarship for Constance Billard, she trades Buffalo for a chic Manhattan. It’s a fairy tale of a fish out of the water that is reflected in the cast, as no one was more surprised to land the role of a 14-year-old freshman than Peak.

“I watched Gossip Girl maybe three years ago for the first time and I guess I didn’t really think how lacking in diversity it was, because that was kind of what I was always put on. on the face, ”Peak said. “Every sitcom that everyone watched was always predominantly white. And so I never even thought about it until I got the hearing. I was like, Wow, that’s weird, okay. Sure. I didn’t think I was going to get it because I was young and didn’t fit the original cast.

With four of the leading women of color, the show embraces diversity and inclusion.

In Peak’s view, while it “may not be the pinnacle of diverse entertainment”, it is “a step in the right direction”.

Social media and mean girls

Showrunner Safran said the biggest change has come with how social media has changed the way the invisible narrator, titular Gossip Girl, works.

“At the time, Gossip Girl was the disruptor. Serena (played by Blake Lively in the original series) thought she was going around her daily life thinking like Serena and Gossip Girl, “I’m going to show what you really do.” Now we all organize ourselves so much that we put on a false front and know who we really are. Gossip Girl doesn’t disturb anything. It actually shows both things and puts them in context. Julien isn’t who she shows you she is, and the worst part is that she knows the truth and chooses not to show you.

While the bad girl trope isn’t new, social media has ignited this stereotype. Julien and Zoya may be blood ties and matching neck tattoos, but they go from reunited to rivals with the click of a button on an Instagram post. But it’s fun to watch.

“We can all relate to being bullied in one way or another, so it’s fun to put ourselves in ridiculous positions of power,” said Savannah Smith. “In this show the power is taken a little too far, but all in a fictional, mean, exciting, dramatic and fun way.”

The new reboot of Gossip Girl and all seasons of the original are now streaming on BINGE.


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