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

It’s the much-anticipated TV reboot that has everyone talking. And the new Gossip Girl is tackling severe issues never explored in the original. It’s been a turbulent year in the United States with political upheaval, civil unrest, and more coronavirus cases than any other country. Therefore, it’s remarkable that a show about wealthy and privileged teenagers addresses these issues while still having fun.

Yet the Gossip Girl reboot does all this and more, adding zeitgeisty topics like gender fluidity, sexual orientation, and woke culture. “Part of the DNA of the show is that it’s engaging in public conversations and things that are going on in the real world,” said executive producer Stephanie Savage, a co-creator of the original 2007-2013 series. “We want to feel like everything that’s happened in the last couple of years is reflected in the material.” With the first episode dropping on BINGE last week, viewers can already spot some hot-button topics emerging. Here the cast and production heads take us through what else to expect.

The pandemic

Queen Bee Julien Calloway is preparing for her first day at Constance Billard School for Girls on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. “You’re normally not this excited for the first day of school,” says her dad.

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

Perhaps the most prominent role coronavirus plays in the series is behind the scenes, with the show’s producers adhering to strict Covid-19 protocols in a series with high levels of physical intimacy.

“We never shut down once. We have an incredible Covid team that works hard to protect everybody, and we have a great intimacy coordinator who helped with that,” revealed producer-writer Joshua Safran.

The super-rich

When the original Gossip Girl aired in 2007, the phrase “the one percent” hadn’t yet been coined, no one knew how to “check their privilege,” and the series was in season four when the Global Financial Crisis hit.

The reboot is more self-aware of the wealth gap.

“Ever heard of the guilty rich? This one’s the guiltiest and the richest,” says Julien of her property developer heir boyfriend Obie (Eli Brown). These characters wrestle with their privilege, and Obie initially bonds with the new girl and Julien’s half-sister Zoya (Whitney Peak) over their shared interest in an anti-gentrification charity.

While Julien might be Queen, she genuinely cares about her much poorer sibling and ships Zoya pricey merch on the sly to give her some fashion cred at school. We’re high school students, and whether we’re well-off or not, these kids are still going through things and figuring things out as they grow up,” says Evan Mock, who plays Aki. “So I feel like no matter how well-off you are, you still face everyday problems.”

Molly Aronson

I'm an award-winning blogger who enjoys all things creative but is especially passionate about lifestyle design. I blog over at mehlogy.com I love that I get to share my passion for healthy living, fashion, fitness, and travel with readers from all over the world.

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