Recently, the hit 2007 show Gossip Girl, a deliciously campy chronicling of the woes and dramatics of overwhelming Upper East Side wealth, fell victim to what I like to call the “reboot method.” Iconic shows like Gossip Girl are ripe to be taken advantage of by producers who want to relive the (financial) magic of an iconic, wildly popular television show or film, by relying on a combination of nostalgia and buzz to recreate the love and excitement of what once was. From the bizarre villain origin story of 1001 Dalmations that is Emma Stone’s Cruella to the adultified iCarly reboot, I predict that Gilmore Girls, Something, or Something are next to be revived. If any of those actually happen, you heard it here first.
Although reboots are pretty much guaranteed to pull in the big bucks (nostalgia is a very powerful drug, people), there’s also the downside of the OG fans constantly comparing the work of the past to the recreation of the present. Of course, the Gossip Girl producers and cast are no stranger to this scrutiny.
Reboots and Modernization
The 2007 Gossip Girl’s premise, if you somehow haven’t seen it yet, went as such: an unidentified tyrant known as “Gossip Girl” ran a website chronicling the mishaps and drama of the elite members of a dramatized version of Upper East Side wealth. It was definitely a bit goofy, but it made sense. The characters, all strangers to iPhones and Instagram, carried around flip phones and Windows laptops. It made sense that a singular gossip site could dominate the social sphere and terrorize students.
But the 2021 Gossip Girl is a bit different. For one, the “Gossip Girl” account is no longer a website with text alerts. Instead, it’s an Instagram page. For one, this makes no sense (how easy would it be to trace the IP address to the user? Here’s hoping they’ll address this in later episodes). But a majority of the complaints about the reboot unsurprisingly come from users on TikTok. People aren’t happy with the style, the lingo, or the show’s representation of wealthy teenagers, especially in comparison to the ways of the original series.
Gossip Girl in 2020
Are the claims that the new series seems too “unrealistic?” It seems that way, but in no way was the original series realistic either. Just as the 2007 characters were a dramatized facade of mid-2000’s teen culture, the 2021 version satirizes the Gen-Z teen. This particular reboot has gotten attacked on TikTok to no end. And, it’s affecting the ways that new viewers, myself included, perceive the new remake.
I was primed by TikTok to not enjoy the reboot in the slightest, so I was surprised when I kind of did. In theory, it definitely doesn’t compare to the original. But, it holds a similar charm and drama, complete with a modern twist. There’s Instagram, influencers, much-needed improvements with diversity, and a fleshed-out representation of sexual fluidity. All elements are that of other popular teen dramas of the current age. However, much of TikTok seems unhappy simply because it doesn’t embody the same energy as 2007.
Is this the fault of the reboot, or the recreation’s reviews? On one hand, as mentioned, a well-received reboot is very difficult to pull off. Viewers of the original hold a soft spot in their hearts for the way that Gossip Girl once was, and it’s difficult to create space for a new set of characters in an entirely new generation. On the other hand, I think TikTok critics are being a bit harsh. After all, did viewers expect characters in 2020 to be walking around dressed in designer pieces from 2007 Fashion Week?
Maybe, as the show’s weekly episodes continue to roll in, the viewing crowds will warm up to the Gen-Z representations of Gossip Girl. But for now, the show seems to be stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Featured Image from @gossipgirl on Instagram