Roush Review: ‘Gossip Girl’ Reboot Is Gag-Worthy
In the updated 2020s world of HBO Max’s toxic Gossip Girl reboot, scandalous blogs are passé. It’s all about the texts, posts, viral videos and, need we mention, followers. With that in mind, if I were to text my reaction to sitting through four overlong (50-plus minutes) episodes of this smug and sour soap about the overprivileged youth of New York’s Upper East Side, all you’d see would be a series of barf emojis.
Indifferently acted by a gorgeous and admirably diverse cast that looks more suited for grad than elite high school, this sexed-up update of the show that helped establish The CW (for better or worse) introduces a clique of Insta-goon TikTrash who all need their smartphones confiscated on grounds of human-rights abuse.
The plot, such as it is, revolves around distant half-sisters who meet as the new school term begins: Julien (Jordan Alexander), a glam and self-obsessed influencer, is accompanied by a vicious chorus of social-media and fashion handlers, while painfully earnest Zoya (Whitney Peak) is a straight-out-of-Buffalo scholarship student. Naturally, Zoya is instantly shunned by most of Julien’s poisonous posse as an insect from a lesser species but also seen as a threat to their queen bee’s class-conscious image. Even more inevitably, the half-sibs both pine and tangle over Obie (Eli Brown), the “Prince of New York” whose save-the-planet social conscience often puts him at odds with his boorish besties.
Pansexual Max (Thomas Doherty), who has slept with one of his peer couples separately and secretly, describes the trite feuding-sisters situation to be “as déclassé as an Andy Cohen show,” which at least made me laugh. Unlike the rest of Gossip Girl, which majors in attitude while flunking coherence, given that Julien and Zoya declare war, then strike a truce, in just about every episode.
And what about Gossip Girl herself (once again pertly narrated by Kristen Bell)? That’s the show’s one nifty twist, which shouldn’t be spoiled, but even that gimmick grows old by the umpteenth tweet.
Gossip Girl, Series Premiere, Thursday, July 8, HBO Max (premiere also airs Friday, July 9, 8/7c, on The CW)