The original Gossip Girl could be positively Shakespearean in its wild, deceit-filled plotlines, and it looks like the new reboot series is also nodding to classic literature. In the show’s premiere, reunited half-sisters Julien and Zoya mentioned their middle names were an important clue about their connection, and they doubled down on that in Episode 2 while reconciling after their public feud. So, just what exactly is the meaning behind their middle names? It seems to be a literary easter egg that winks at their differences in personality.
The new Gossip Girl centers on the complicated relationship between queen bee influencer Julien and bright-eyed newcomer Zoya. Although the two come from different worlds, they actually share a strong bond as half-sisters. Julien and Zoya secretly kept in contact over the past few years after learning they shared a mother, and eventually devised a plan to help Zoya transfer into Julien’s school so they could be near each other. However, things didn’t go as easily as planned, and the two half-sisters still aren’t sure if they’re friends or enemies now that they’re in the same social circle.
Something that seems very important to both Julien and Zoya is their middle names. In the series premiere, Julien said their mother gave them their middle names as a clue to help them find one another. Then, in the second episode, the sisters repeat their middle names to one another as a way to reconcile: “Zoya Jane, Julien Elizabeth.”
The reference may not be immediately recognizable to viewers, but anyone who remembers their high school English classes should be able to work it out. The names appear to be a nod to Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen’s 1813 novel about society and courtship in the English countryside. The protagonist of the novel is the witty but judgmental Elizabeth Bennet, whose more trusting older sister is named Jane. The fact that Julien and Zoya share named with the Bennet sisters doesn’t just denote their sororal connection; it also seems to be insight into their personalities.
Although Julien is the older sister, her middle name is the first name of the younger Pride and Prejudice daughter, Elizabeth. Much like Elizabeth, Julien has shown she can be very stubborn and stuck in her ways, but also shows signs she may be able to turn over a new leaf in the future. Like Jane, Zoya is overly trusting of others, which became her downfall when Julien’s buddies tricked her into a public shaming. What else could these middle names foretell? Perhaps that’s a secret for Gossip Girl to uncover.
Catch new episodes of Gossip Girl as they premiere on HBO Max every Thursday.