Greetings, Upper East Siders! HBO Max's reboot of Gossip Girl is officially here, and as the buzz we've been hearing over the past few months suggests, the show is, in fact, the modern, LGBTQ-inclusive teen drama series that this generation rightfully deserves!
Out spoke to the cast of the new HBO Max series— including Evan Mock, Thomas Doherty, Emily Alyn Lynd, Zion Moreno, Savannah Smith, Jordan Alexander, Whitney Peak, and Eli Brown — as well as creator, writer, and executive producer Josh Safran, about what it was like crafting an incredibly queer and inclusive iteration of an already beloved TV franchise, and why it was so important to bring Gossip Girl to a whole new generation of viewers!
"It was an incredibly amazing learning experience for me," actor Thomas Doherty, who plays Max, the series' messy, horny, pansexual playboy who hooks up with and charms people of all genders, said about his favorite part about getting to play a queer character in a popular, mainstream show. "I find it incredibly, incredibly liberating. Max is pansexual, and it definitely did challenge my own preconceived notions of what it means to be pansexual, what it means to be nonbinary, what it means to be all these things. It was just really, really good fun, and I had the opportunity to work with some amazing actors, and really kind of explore that side of me. I think there definitely should be a lot more queer characters represented on TV, especially the messy and horny ones."
"It's nice be in the shoes of a bisexual character and have to be that representation because there isn't much," Evan Mock, who plays Gossip Girl's pink-haired skater boy Aki, a character that questions his own sexuality and whether or not he likes girls or boys, added. "I feel lucky to be able to represent that and to, you know, just, honestly explore that in my personal life. This character, and also with Max, it's liberating to feel like, you know, why all these things growing up, you thought in a certain way. And now, playing a queer character, a bisexual character is definitely something that has opened my eyes to just being more open and be more free. So, yeah, it's cool. We're very lucky."
And though Gossip Girl is inclusive AF and more accurately reflects what the real world looks like in a modern setting, the show never tokenizes its characters, and that's something a lot of the cast really loved about being a part of it.
"Inclusion and diversity, to me, is inclusion and diversity without that being the point, and not being the center of the conversation," said bisexual actress Savannah Smith, who plays queer mean girl Monet. "It's really refreshing to be part of a project that understands that and is just saying, 'Hey, these are people from different walks of life and different backgrounds. This is what they like, and this is what they do.' It's refreshing. I feel like a lot of projects that try their hardest to be diverse, try to make sure you know that, and push it in your face, that's kind of doing the opposite of what we want. We kinda just want to be able to exist in a space without, you know, having our identities slapped on our foreheads. So I think it's doing a great job in that sense."
"Like Savannah said, I love that the show doesn't stamp our identities on our foreheads and our characters just get to be," added trans actress Zion Moreno, who plays Monet's partner in crime Luna. "I think that that's ultimately gonna pave the way towards true inclusion in the media. I've been a part of things, as I'm sure Savannah has as well, where we've been tokenized because of our identity. That has always been a very, very, very horrible thing to have to experience, and it's kinda dehumanizing. It doesn't make you feel respected or accounted for in a respectful way. So I'm just really excited to just get to play a character that doesn't have anything to do with, you know, explaining her identity, or who she likes to sleep with, or doesn't, you know?"
Gossip Girl is now streaming on HBO Max, with new episodes premiering weekly.