When Gossip Girl returns, its characters will provide a more accurate representation of the diversity found in New York City.
During the Vulture Festival over the weekend, writer and producer Joshua Safran opened up about the upcoming HBO Max reboot, revealing that audiences should expect a more diverse cast this time around.
“There was not a lot of representation the first time around on the show,” he said. “Even when I went to private school in New York in the ‘90s, the school didn’t necessarily reflect what was on Gossip Girl. So, this time around the leads are nonwhite.”
Safran, who shared that he “was the only gay writer” on the original CW show, added that “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,” he said, before teasing one other major way the reboot will differ from the original series. “The thing I can’t say is there is a twist, and that all relates to the twist.”
The original teen drama — based on Cecily von Ziegesar’s popualr, young adult book series — aired from 2007-2012 and starred Blake Lively (as Serena van der Woodsen), Penn Badgley (Dan Humphrey), Leighton Meester (Blair Waldorf), Ed Westwick (Chuck Bass), Chace Crawford (Nate Archibald) and more. Throughout six seasons, there was one prominent gay character, Eric van der Woodsen, played by Connor Paolo. Asian actresses Yin Chang (as Nelly Yuki) and Nan Zhang (as Kati Farkas) reoccured throughout the series, as did Nicole Fiscella (Isabel Coates), who is of Indian and St. Lucian descent. Jessica Szohr, who is of Hungarian and African-American descent, had a main role as Vanessa Abrams from seasons 1-4. And Tika Sumpter, who is black, appeared as Raina Thorpe for 11 episodes in 2011. But overall, the main cast was predominantly white and heterosexual.
.@Anthologist confirms to @hunteryharris that the #GossipGirl reboot will take place in the same universe as the original and the students will attend Constance Billard. #VultureFestival pic.twitter.com/2MnZ0swHQd— Vulture (@vulture) November 11, 2019
In July, HBO Max announced plans for the reboot, which will feature a brand-new cast of teens enjoying their privileged lives on New York City’s Upper East Side, with original creators Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage tied to the project.
“Eight years after the original website went dark, a new generation of New York private school teens are introduced to the social surveillance of Gossip Girl,” HBO Max said in a statement. “The prestige series will address just how much social media — and the landscape of New York itself — has changed in the intervening years.”
It’s unclear if any of the original actors will make an appearance on the reboot, although Meester has already said that she’s uninterested in reprising her role as queen bee Blair Waldorf.
“A lot of the questions that come from it are: ‘Do you miss it?’ ‘Did you love what you wore?’ And I understand that, but — and I say this with nothing but love — it is like saying, ‘High school was an amazing time for you, do you wish you could go back?’ ” she said during a 2018 interview with PorterEdit. “And the truth is, it was so special and such a unique, amazing experience, but no, I wouldn’t wanna go back to it, I was a kid!”