I'll Say It: The Gossip Girl Reboot Ended At The Perfect Time
Even as a diehard fan, I've seen enough.
When HBO Max canceled its Gossip Girl reboot, I was devastated. The glitzy teen soap didn’t perfectly recapture the messy magic of The CW’s original scandalous sensation, but it still lived up to its predecessor enough to deliver some of the wildest twists, trendiest fashions, and steamiest hookups currently on television. However, now that I’ve seen the episode that serves as its series finale, I get it. As hard as this is to say as a GG acolyte, HBO Max was right to hit the block button and cancel the Gossip Girl reboot when it did.
When the new GG premiered in 2021, it was teed up to be one of the hottest debuts of the 2020s, and I was excited to pick up my hardcore fandom right where I left it. Like most fans, I spent my teenage years endlessly quoting Blair Waldorf, discovering indie rock music from the OMFGG soundtrack, and obsessing over theories about GG’s true identity (I still think it should’ve been Dorota). Unfortunately, the reboot had a shaky start when GG returned to the Upper East Side. The show debuted to mostly negative reviews, and I couldn’t argue with the points being made, especially in terms of lackluster characters and storylines. Julien was too nice to be a Blair but too grounded to be a Serena, Obie and Aki’s personalities were dead on arrival, and the decision to reveal GG’s identity in Episode 1 felt like a waste.
True GG faithfuls were eventually rewarded for sticking with the reboot, though. Season 2 ramped up the campy, over-the-top antics that made the original show such a treat, and shifted the focus to the girlies who actually knew how to serve drama. Finally, Blair’s true successor, Monet de Haan, got to shine in all her snarky glory, and the criminally overlooked comeback queen Luna La got her own spotlight episode as well. The cherry on top? Georgina Sparks, baby. The agent of chaos shook up the series with a much-needed jolt of ridiculousness. The heavy-handed takes on influencer culture also took a back seat; gone was the predictable and cringey “who’s getting canceled this week?” episode structure now that GG had formed more complex relationships with each character in the DMs. It was like watching Little J’s rise to power all over again, as the show evolved past its gawky attempts to make Julien and Zoya’s feud happen to embrace the hand-me-down headband of Waldorfian scheming.
But just as it felt like the new Gossip Girl was coming into its own, it ended. HBO Max announced the show’s cancelation when the penultimate episode of Season 2 dropped on Jan. 19, meaning the final episode of the season suddenly became the final episode, period. At the time, it felt like a gut punch. But after watching the finale, which dropped on Jan. 26, I was left with a feeling I didn’t see coming: I was relieved. The Season 2 finale turned out to be the perfect place for the show to end. Gossip Girl’s story is neatly wrapped up, and the little hints at what Season 3 could’ve been about just weren’t compelling — GG simply ran out of juicy gossip, girl.
Spoiler alert: The rest of this post contains spoilers from the Gossip Girl series finale. It’s actually hard to believe the Season 2 finale was written to lead into another set of episodes because it truly felt like a farewell to the show. There’s no way the series could ever get a more quintessential Gossip Girl event than the Met Gala, so setting the last episode at fashion’s biggest night felt like a Fenty-glossed goodbye kiss. And Kate Keller finally revealing herself as Gossip Girl? Total series-ending move. Apparently, all it took to unravel the show’s central conceit was dangling the carrot of a meeting with Shonda Rhimes and Ryan Murphy in front of Kate’s hungry mouth, and she came running... straight into Julien and Zoya’s trap. And with no more Gossip Girl, how could Gossip Girl continue? Short answer: It can’t.
Of course, the GG writers tried their darnedest to tease a possible third season with a confusing post-credits scene. Aki’s media mogul father, Roger Menzies, enticed Kate’s right-hand man, Jordan, into turning Gossip Girl into an interactive app, giving teenagers around the world the power to spy on and gossip about each other. It’s unclear how, exactly, this idea would have played out if the show were to have gotten a third season, but it doesn’t sound promising. Roger’s unwieldy and overly technical idea would have sucked all the magic out of the niche NYC drama that made the mysterious blogger/Instagrammer so much fun. And giving more of a spotlight to Jordan, the whiny sidekick who isn’t nearly as interesting as Kate, would be plain boring.
Jordan and Roger’s meeting isn’t the only loose end the Gossip Girl finale left, but none of the others are worth mourning any axed future episodes, either. The final 15 minutes of the episode were spent teasing out potential new storylines, each one more humdrum and inconsequential than the last:
- Julien learning about her mother. The finale saw Julien traveling to Rome to track down her aunt, Naomi, begging her for info about her mother. Julien and Zoya’s mom may have been kind of important at the start of the series when the half-sisters were getting to know one another, but at this point, it’s hard to imagine anything exciting coming from this genealogical search.
- Zoya dating a new guy. Sparks flew between Zoya and fellow Italian tourist Philip, played by Only Murders in the Building’s Aaron Dominguez, who was going to be a Season 3 regular, presumably dating Zoya. Oh well.
- Max rebounding with a mystery man. TBH, I did miss Max’s promiscuous side while he was locked up in his toxic throuple with Audrey and Aki, but the cliffhanger of him going home with some unseen guy outside of a German club didn’t have the Chuck-Bass-shot-in-Prague appeal it seemed to be aiming for.
- Audrey, Aki, and Obie just chilling. The show ends with Audrey and Aki in two-person relationship bliss, and Obie back together with Julien, free of any family drama. Nothing more to see here, folks.
Honestly, the only characters I’d love to see more of after that finale are my queens, Monet and Luna, especially now that Luna has gone full supermodel and Monet still has something to prove as the rightful queen bee of the UES. But without an actual Gossip Girl to chronicle their rise to power, even these two former lackeys would be lackluster in a deflated Season 3.
So, it’s with a not-so-heavy heart that I make peace with the Gossip Girl reboot going out on a high rather than stooping to an awkward low to create more content. XOXO, you beautiful bitch.