Gossip Girl may be queer canon, but it was never all that gay. Sure, Eric Van Der Woodsen (Connor Paolo) came out in the first season — he also triumphantly outed his boyfriend, which tells you a lot about where we were in 2007 — and Hilary Duff’s guest arc gave us a pretty major bisexual threesome, but Gossip Girl was a show that catered to gays with razor-sharp dialogue, endless drama, and designer costumes without ever being all that queer.
However, the executive producer and writer of the upcoming Gossip Girl reboot — which is coming to HBO’s streaming service HBO Max — says that’s all going to change. During a Gossip Girl panel at the Vulture Festival in Los Angeles, Joshua Safran conceded that “there was not a lot of representation the first time around on the show.” Safran admitted, “I was the only gay writer I think the entire time I was there.”
Besides the show’s lack of queer characters, there was only one non-white actor in the main cast: Jessica Szohr, who played Brooklyn interloper Vanessa. Safran added that the show’s cast didn’t reflect his own experience in the elite New York City prep schools that inspired it.
“Even when I went to private school in New York in the ’90s, the school didn’t necessarily reflect what was on Gossip Girl,” he added. “So, this time around the leads are nonwhite. There’s a lot of queer content on this show. It is very much dealing with the way the world looks now, where wealth and privilege come from, and how you handle that. The thing I can’t say is there is a twist, and that all relates to the twist.”
The reboot isn’t a complete overhaul of the original and is, in fact, set in the same universe and even the same prep school: the fictional Constance Billard School for Girls. “It is 12 years, I guess, 13 years after the original,” Safran explained. “So we are in realtime from the original where we are in the show.”
It’s unclear whether the show’s original stars will return for cameos, but there will at least be one familiar voice: Kristen Bell, who plays The Good Place’s resident bisexual nightmare, will return as Gossip Girl’s titular queen of tea.
There’s still no word on when the Gossip Girl reboot is coming, but she’s always watching...xoxo.