Gossip Girl Reviews Say HBO Max’s Reboot Lacks Viciousness Of Original

Gossip Girl Reviews Say HBO Max’s Reboot Lacks Viciousness Of Original

Gossip Girl has arrived on HBO Max, and the reviews are in: The reboot of the hit CW series doesn’t pack the same scandalous punch.

The reviews for HBO Max’s Gossip Girl reboot are in, and they aren’t exactly celebrating the anonymous blogger’s return. The original Gossip Girl ran for 6 seasons on The CW and remains a soapy teen classic. The series followed the lives of Manhattan’s young elite as they got involved with one scandal after another, with all of their exploits exposed by the titular blog. HBO Max’s updated version of Gossip Girl looks to take a similar format and apply it to the present day, where social media is bigger than ever and privilege looks far different than it did ten years ago.

The Gossip Girl reboot is set within the same world as the original, but centers on an entirely new cast of characters. Queen Bee Julien (Jordan Alexander) has her life turned upside down by the arrival of her half-sister Zoya (Whitney Peak), this series’ outsider who has much to learn about the ways of the upper class. Additional characters are played by Zión Moreno, Savannah Smith, Eli Brown, Evan Mock, Emily Alyn Lind, Thomas Doherty, and Tavi Gevinson.

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Related: Is Gossip Girl’s Return A Reboot Or Sequel

Now that the first episode of Gossip Girl has arrived on streaming, the reviews are in. Below is a spoiler-free sampling of what the critics are saying about HBO Max’s reboot; so far, it doesn’t look very good. Full reviews are available through the links provided.

Kristen Baldwin and Darren Franich, EW

All that social warfare is…pretty tame? The new Gossip Girl is vastly more sensitive about everything, in a way that feels at once wholly sincere and brutally boring.

Kelly Lawler, USA Today

While CW’s “Gossip” wasn’t always well written, it was unfailingly entertaining; HBO Max’s version rarely falls into that second category. It’s a cringe-worthy slog, full of unappealing acting, atrocious writing and plot twists that verge on the sociopathic.

Lauren Coates, AwardsWatch

Though it has all the right aesthetic trappings and a young cast chock full of talent, Gossip Girl lacks the fire and the cutthroat mentality of the original that made it such captivating, love-to-hate-it TV. Just as vapid as its gaggle of coke-snorting protagonists, Gossip Girl feels like something its uber-rich teens would never be caught dead with – a knockoff.

Ben Travers, IndieWire

With Gossip Girl and her affluent teen readers returning for the HBO Max reboot, it’s kind of astounding to discover that the new “Gossip Girl” has a serious drama problem: There isn’t nearly enough of it.

Josh Bell, CBR

Still, Safran throws in plenty of juicy drama, and while actual teen audiences may prefer HBO Max’s other teen-focused series, fans of the original Gossip Girl will find plenty to enjoy here. Over the course of the four episodes available for review, this Gossip Girl deliberately exists in the shadow of the previous series, in ways that can be both frustrating and rewarding.

Caroline Framke, Variety

The show does its best to balance all the storylines and keep everything as juicy as possible; even without especially caring about half of the characters, I accidentally marathoned all the episodes I had in a single night. Of everyone in the new cast, though, Alexander and Doherty make the longest lasting impressions.

Daniel Fienberg, THR

Not quite a bloated athlete past their peak, but definitely not a brand-redefining triumph, HBO Max’s reboot of Gossip Girl is half bland rehash of the soapy beats from the original series and half perplexing but semi-ambitious premise-overhaul that the series isn’t prepared to fully engage in.

Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair

From what I’ve seen, though, Safran and his co-writers are stymied by the conundrum presented to them, rather than invigorated by it. The show is, indeed, very much attuned to contemporary political awareness and, yes, does also make an attempt at wickedness. But it gets the balance all wrong, taking its mission too seriously and thus sucking out all the fun.

Rachel Leibrock, San Francisco Chronicle

Mostly, 2021’s “Gossip Girl” works. This take is riskier, raunchier and more profane — but just as smart and entertaining. It’s also more ethnically diverse and socially aware, although the latter evolution sometimes seems heavy-handed.

Overall, the critical consensus for this new Gossip Girl isn’t sending the series x’s and o’s. A common complaint that has emerged is that, in their attempt to be more aware of the social issues the first series largely ignored, creator Joshua Safran (working alongside original producers Stephanie Savage and Josh Schwartz) has erased the shock factor Gossip Girl was known for. Characters like Blair Waldorf (Leighton Meester) and Serena van der Woodsen (Blake Lively) could be downright brutal to each other before, but that isn’t quite the case here. As a result, this Gossip Girl is missing something.

The reviews also made note of one major change between shows: The Gossip Girl reboot tells audiences who the mystery blogger is early on. In the original series, Gossip Girl’s identity was kept until the very end, which made for some confused reactions when it proved to be Dan Humphrey (Penn Badgley) all along. Kristen Bell is back to voice GG, but there won’t be near as much mystery behind the blog. Critics seem a bit divided on whether this decision is a good or bad one, though they all are united on one thing: Gossip Girl lacks the same fun as before.

More: Gossip Girl Reboot: Who The New Gossip Girl Is (& Why It’s Problematic)

Gossip Girl releases new episodes Thursdays on HBO Max.

Source: Various (see above)

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