HBO Max announced their reboot of the iconic aughts series Gossip Girl in July 2019, and we have some questions. The series will be bringing back executive producers Joshua Safran, Josh Schwartz, and Stephanie Savage, but the original series was so wedded to its time and place, frozen in a pristine pre-Trump New York City before social media made everyone a bit more like the titular gossipmonger/stalker than we'd like to admit, that it's impossible to imagine what a modern-day Gossip Girl could even look like. We're excited to see our favorite Upper East Siders back on the small screen in any form, but the HBO series will probably have to scrap these outdated storylines.
Dan Humphry spent all of Gossip Girl lamenting his outsider status until even the writers realized what a joke his bleeding heart act was a wrote an entire episode pointing out that Dan had become the ultimate insider over the series' six seasons. Case in point? Dan's story in The New Yorker. As Vulture rightly points out, Jonathan Franzen even has trouble getting his story into The New Yorker, so the odds of this prestige publication accepting a blind submission from an unknown high schooler was a stretch even before social media exponentially widened the submission pool. With magazines getting bombarded by unsolicited essays on Twitter, Facebook, and every editor's Google-able email address, it's even harder now to breakthrough the fray.
One of many problems that could've been solved for our Upper East Siders with a quick Google search, Ivy Dickens would never have been able to trick the Van der Woodsens into thinking she was their long-lost niece if social media was around. Even if Ivy and the nefarious Carol Rhodes had scrubbed Ivy and the real Charlie's social media presence, there would still be tagged photos, local news items, and sh*t like Ancestry.com to unmask this wannabee. Same goes for Kate Cassidy posing as a wealthy Upper East Sider to get vengeance for her imprisoned brother — if Nate, who's dumb as a brick, figured that one out before Facebook was even really a thing, imagine how fast she would've been found out today. Anna Delvey, she wasn't.
One of HBO Max's missions with their Gossip Girl reboot, aside from pointing out that we're ~all~ Gossip Girl now and live in a social media surveillance state, is to show how the changing landscape of New York would have affected the original series. Nothing has changed from the beginning of Gossip Girl's first season as much as the stigma surrounding the Humphrey's Brooklyn digs. Not only is Brooklyn one of the hottest, hippest neighborhoods in the five boroughs, but these supposedly poor artists like Rufus also wouldn't be able to afford their lofts in a post-Gentrification Dumbo. Will Lonely Boy be from the Bronx now?
In Gossip Girl's first season, we see Rufus and co. literally stapling flyers to telephone poles in their neighborhood to promote Lincoln Hawk's reunion show. Even in 2008, there had to be a better way to advertise the return to Lincoln Hawk's glory days. '90s nostalgia is King in our brave new world, thanks in no small part to streaming services like Spotify that have made it easier than ever to rediscover bands that peaked while we were in diapers. Lincoln Hawk would have a kickin' Facebook page, Rufus would be lightly IG famous because he was always a bit of a daddy (and that's hella in right now), and Lincoln Hawk would be staging a highly-anticipated reunion ~tour~.
You can thank Refinery29 for questioning how a paper trail like Gossip Girl's source leak would ever happen today. Actually, it's insane that Gossip Girl's email list of sources was leaked and no one used a fake email. It was the '00s, not the Stone Age, these teens should have known how to open a second AOL account for privacy if they were going to be communicating with a mysterious entity that's out to ruin their lives. Today, kids would be submitting to Gossip Girl through Snapchats and Wickr accounts, but TBH, the possibility of screenshotting would make it way too easy for GG to have receipts of your deceit. Making a second Snap account is way harder than making, like, a Gmail account. And don't even get us started on how finstas would fit into all of this.
Serena van der Woodsen was our generation's Carrie Bradshaw, so it makes sense that the Gossip Girl Powers That Be would decide to give Serena some type of fashion and lifestyle blog. Instead of starting Goop, Serena started a blog for Nate's newspaper, The Spectator. Serena, being the trendsetting icon she is, would know that newspapers aren't the medium to reach her demographic today. She'd be IG famous by her sophomore year of high school anyway, and becoming an influencer is basically Serena's social media birthright. She'd also definitely end up on The Bachelor by accident, and Nate would eventually *be* the Bachelor at one point in his quest to figure out what he wants to do with his life.
Did anyone ever actually like headbands? Gossip Girl popularized the hair accessory by making it the unlikely Upper East Side status symbol, but we're convinced no one would've gotten on board IRL if we weren't all desperately emulating Blair Waldorf. In an era where local fame can easily translate into a worldwide following on social media, Constance Billard's Queen Bee wouldn't be determined by an oligarchy or a headband — it would be determined by Instagram followers. Blair would freak out about Serena's follower count inching a hundred above hers, and Jenny would get caught buying followers on the internet for IRL clout.
Gossip Girl just *loved* a mistaken identity. Whether its Georgina purposefully posing as someone else or the girls realizing that people are so stupid, they'll think anyone in a gold dress with blonde hair is Serena van der Woodsen, most of the leads' problems could've been solved through some basic facial recognition skills. A mask really doesn't conceal your identity *that* well, right? In our Golden Age of social media, Serena would be putting her partying on IG Live and her antics would be splashed across Snapchat stories, so it would be easier for her gullible friends to realize she can't be doing body shots in the corner *and* dancing with Nate at the same time.
Gossip Girl doing her life-ruining business on an official website was bold AF. How did these ridiculously wealthy high school students (and their vaguely concerned parents, probably) never just hire someone to tell them who owned the Gossip Girl domain name? It's not like it's hard. Aside from the logistical nonsense that was having a secret identity and making yearly payments to keep the Gossip Girl URL, no freshman in high school would make their online gossip site an actual website. It's way more likely Gossip Girl would be a nefarious Twitter account, a Facebook page, a Snapchat, an Instagram, or the mother of all online hate hosts, Formspring. Formspring actually ruined lives in the early 2010s.
It's not hard to have a secret identity on social media if you really commit to the bit. Because everyone can be anonymous on social media, there would be no reason for these backstabbing little b*tches to use Gossip Girl as a middleman. Sure, these snitches probably feel some sort of karmic absolution for providing the gasoline and not lighting the match, but if even one copycat Gossip Girl account popped up, ten would follow. At its core, Gossip Girl's antagonist wasn't the one organizer spilling the character's secrets, it was the *sshole high school kids who were providing him with the information. Now that every *sshole can have a platform, Gossip Girl's days as the sole distributor of tea are numbered.
The Gossip Girl leads were great at investing in businesses that would be dying by the time their show ended. Chuck Bass would know better than to invest in real estate following the Great Recession torpedoing the housing bubble. Real estate is still a genius investment in the long, long run (and that bubble burst made it a buyer's market, cha-ching for us), but the new billionaires are in tech. Chuck would either be buying up tech patents or running for office, not starting a hotel business. Oh, and Nate buying a newspaper is probably the most realistic part of Gossip Girl's later seasons because Nate was lowkey dumb and that's probably the worst investment anyone could have made in our changing digital landscape.
We totally forgot about this weird storyline until The Atlantic questioned Vanessa's use of camcorder blackmail. The universally-hated Vanessa had an incriminating video of Chuck on her handheld video camera and used it to blackmail him into giving her ten thousand dollars. Sure, she gives him a blank tape and hands the real one over to Blair, but that pesky little tape would have reared its ugly head again in a modern-day Gossip Girl. With the Cloud, no video is every really destroyed (or safe, for that matter), and videophones would have been a game-changer. No need to deal with clunky cameras and physical tapes when you can make home movies with the click of a button. And livestreaming would have absolutely destroyed these characters' happiness somehow.
Gossip Girl lied to us: the Upper East Side isn't that nice. According to Curbed NY, the Upper East Side is actually Manhattan's most affordable neighborhood, and honestly, the entire area is crawling with bed bugs. Marymount Manhattan College on the UES and its dorms had bed bugs just a few years ago. Seriously, the entire college. Anything close to Central Park is going to be bougie AF, but there are nicer Manhattan neighborhoods to dub the end all, be all of wealth and prosperity. Also, regularly filming locations like the Palace Hotel (where the Van der Woodsens lived for a hot minute) and Butter weren't actually on the UES at all — they're in — shudder — Midtown.
The '90s might have been a long, long time ago, but they still had cameras back then. Lily and Rufus's youthful romance was a secret in their adult lives, but any true Lincoln Hawk fan (and music historian) would have noticed their budding love and documented it on camera. A quick Google of Lincoln Hawk would have, eventually, led to photos of Lily and Rufus all boo'd up being revealed to their kids, and niche music fans would have updated Lincoln Hawk's Genius accounts with their songs' real meanings and how they related to Rufus's ex Lily. The Humphrey kids wouldn't be tricked into thinking Rosewood was about their mom's perfume when the internet would have easily told them about Lily's horse and the fact she was banging their dad.
Gossip Girl's only Brooklyn-ites were, supposedly, riding the struggle bus. Not that we ever saw any of them working a day job at Abercrombie & Fitch, but whatever. Dan would have been pretty comfortable financially through the Gossip Girl site because you know that sh*t would be heavily monetized #ad #spon. Even if today's Gossip Girl site manifested itself as an Instagram, having a regular fanbase and not capitalizing on it would be unheard of in their finance-first New York society and just plain dumb.
Returning to the Facebook of it all, like with Ivy Dickens and Juliet Sharpe, the Non-Judging Breakfast Club would have been able to determine whether Elizabeth was Chuck's real mother pretty quickly using modern technology, whether he wanted them to or not. Elizabeth may or may not have been Chuck's mother (in all of the confusion and the glaring lack of a DNA test, it was hard to tell), but tools like Ancestory.com could have gone a long way in revealing her true identity. To be fair, simple hair-based DNA tests definitely existed in 2011, and it seems pretty unlikely for a multi-millionaire's wife to die in childbirth, so there were more plot holes here than just a lack of 21st-century tech.
Living in a pre-Trump world was so nice. Like, people were still definitely racist and didn't care about the poor, but it was way easier to ignore it. Other than that one strange plotline with Aaron Tveit, the OG Gossip Girl was surprisingly apolitical. If HBO Max's new series doesn't address the fact that half these characters and their parents would be Trump supporters, it'll be a stunningly obvious omission to this new and modern New York they're exploring. Like, Blair Waldorf would have voted for Hillary, but we can't say the same with certainty for her Trumpian husband, Chuck.
Kendall and Kylie Jenner went to Sierra Canyon High School for like two years before they got famous enough to dip out and start their own careers, and Gossip Girl's Manhattan elites would likely do the same. Chuck would be focusing on his burgeoning real estate tech business, Serena would be off modeling somewhere, and Blair would have no time to rub elbows with the unwashed masses of New York's top prep school. If YouTubers are really out here getting their GEDs because they've got better sh*t to do, we can't imagine these characters would really stay in school for four years now that finishing your diploma at home has become so normalized for young professionals.
We all want to be Grace Kelly (or, nowadays, Meghan Markle), but when it comes to European royalty, it's British or Bust, especially in the media. Someone like Blair would always be distracted from the old money titles of European aristocracy, even if it's for a country no one has ever heard of, but Prince Louis didn't have enough clout for our girl to ignore her one true love or sign up for a life of unhappy servitude in a loveless marriage. It's a sad truth that the Kardashians are way more powerful than the Windsors are, so poor Louis would never stand a chance.
Serena dated her former boarding school teacher, Ben, after he was released from prison serving time for an alleged relationship with Serena. That was sketchy even back in the '00s when we were all shipping Aria and Ezra on Pretty Little Liars. In a post-Me Too society, this is just one of many, many storylines that probably wouldn't fly, even for the most scandalous show on teen television. This wasn't the only romance between a student and a teacher on the show, Chuck was high-key a rapist, and then there was the ordeal where Chuck prostituted his girlfriend for a hotel. Even a decade ago we all realized that was messed up, but imagine watching the CW today and seeing Rafael pimp out Jane for his shares of the Marbella. People would riot.