School may be out for the summer in most places but the students of New York’s illustrious (yet fictional) Constance Billard School for Girls/St. Jude’s School for Boys have just returned to class for the first time in almost a decade thanks to HBO Max’s recent “Gossip Girl” reboot, which debuted July 8. (New episodes drop each Thursday.) And you know what that means! Your one and only source into the scandalous lives of Manhattan’s elite is back – with a vengeance! Sleeker, sexier and all-around more risqué, this is certainly not your grandmother’s “Gossip Girl.”
As creator Josh Safran, who also executive produced and has an “encyclopedic brain” of the original (which is available on the streamer, as well), told Interview Magazine, “It’s HBO Max, so we don’t have restrictions on nudity or sexuality, or language.” That much is obvious. While the OG series famously angered the Parents Television Council and other media watchdog groups, the reboot manages to push the envelope even further! Headed up by Queen Bee Julien Calloway (Jordan Alexander), the latest crop of Constance Billard/St. Jude’s pupils have far more money (Julien’s well-appointed closet rivals the size of most Manhattan apartments!), partake of far more adult extracurricular activities (Julien and friends spend virtually every night knocking back martini after martini with nary an ID in sight) and seem to have even less parental supervision than their predecessors.
In another major deviation from the 2007 series, while the identity of the titular tea spiller is one secret the original Gossip Girl would never tell, the veil is lifted right off the bat in the reboot. This time it’s the Constance Billard/St. Jude’s teachers, headed up by English instructor Kate Keller (Tavi Gevinson, whom Vogue dubbed “the original influencer”), dropping the dirt on the self-absorbed student body.
Thankfully Kristen Bell has reprised her role as the series’ honeyed-voiced narrator. Another holdover? The spot portraying the exterior of Constance Billard/St. Jude’s. Well, one of them, at least. Three different locations were actually utilized to represent the campus on the original, only one of which was actually on the Upper East Side.