Gossip Girl 2.0: Nostalgia or Flop?
In light of the upcoming Gossip Girl reboot, Sophia Hill weighs up the pros and cons of TV remakes
“Hey Upper East Siders. Gossip Girl here. And I have the biggest news ever.”
In a final bid to save 2020, HBO have pulled out the big guns and confirmed a reboot of the hit 2000s show Gossip Girl. The time has finally come for the next generation of New York’s richest, preppiest and most talked about teenagers to grace our screens. Original executive producers Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage are accompanying the return of the show, and official filming began in early November. With the show is expected to air in 2021, we know relatively little about the format of the show, yet the log line offers a few clues: “Eight years after the original website went dark, 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”. So many questions are circulating right now. Will Serena and Blair’s iconic show downs be replicated? Will the next Lonely Boy continue to struggle to fit in? Or perhaps social this generation of Upper East Siders will succumb to the modern-day pressures of social media. Gossip Girl fans are eagerly waiting to see what is install.
There is another side to rebooted series, away from the excitement and anticipation. When a show, such as Gossip Girl, has been so strongly associated with crucial or significant parts of people’s lives, the expectations are always sky high. The nostalgia that can be drawn from re-watching shows can enthuse incredibly strong memories, and understandably, the thought of any attempts to rewrite that can be rather disconcerting. The comfort of these re-watches can be tremendous; the familiarities of character’s voices as they recite their iconic one-liners, the obvious plot-twist that still astonish you every time, and the season finales that are so embedded in your mind they feel like real life. Surely if a show is so highly adored and successful then a reboot is out of the question. Why on earth try and better it?!
In line with these beliefs, the term reboot can often be met with a negative reception. Viewers can feel offended that newer generations cannot relate to the feelings of adoration towards the original storyline. Revamping a classic is undeniably a challenge, but evidently a very attractive one, with the trick to succeeding being able to build upon what the audience already know. An extra layer must be added to the characters, plots and themes already celebrated and cherished.
Yet with this in mind, the term sequel still holds some hesitation amongst audiences, as of course: ‘The sequel is never better than the original’. However, if we place this pessimism aside, one can see that there are a number of cases when sequels have been named some of the ‘best films ever made’. The Dark Knight, The Empires Strikes Back, even Shrek 2, all have been hailed as fantastic cinematic creations. In this case, perhaps viewers should be more understanding of the ambition of producers, directors and actors and their desire to make their mark on cinematic history. The 2017 film Baywatch is a strong case for how adapting a classic to modern times can be fundamental. The film stars Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson alongside Zac Efron, both of which are globally recognised names. By doing-so the film can cleverly build on the original concept of Baywatch, whilst using current successful actors to target a younger audience. Whilst the film might not have broken box office records, it was definitely a talking point, as it allowed parents to reminisce on ‘their’ Baywatch and then compare it with their children’s new perspective on the franchise.
It is undeniable that the thought of the new series airing without the legendary insults from Blair Waldorf, the echoes of flip-phone notifications across the courtyard of St Jude’s, the headbands and pumps, and, of course, Dorota’s protection of Blair from Mr Chuck, is all quite strange. However, with a more diverse cast focusing on current themes, such LGBTQ relationships and the impact and danger of social media, I believe the series will be refreshing to viewers. There is no doubt that that the fashion, bitchiness and drama will live up to our expectations, so I feel viewers should be optimistic on this rebooted series, even if there are feelings of nostalgia on the Gossip Girl blasts of old.