Bursting onto our screens in 2007, US teen drama Gossip Girl seemed ahead of its time as it followed a bunch of New York private school students as every detail of their complicated lives played out on social media, at the hands of the titular controversial blogger.
Now, the eagerly awaited reboot of the show that made huge stars of Blake Lively, Leighton Meester, Chace Crawford and Ed Westwick - as hotshots Serena, Blair, Nate and Chuck respectively - is coming to BBC1 and BBC iPlayer this week starting on Wednesday August 25th, when we will be returning to the Upper East Side to find the next generation of Constance Billard private school teens being introduced to social surveillance nine years after the original blogger’s website went dark.
With this seventh series continuing on from the original, Gossip Girl 2.0 (if you will!) explores just how much social media - and the landscape of New York itself - has changed in the intervening years.
This time we follow gorgeous, street-smart Julien Calloway (Jordan Alexander), who’s the centre of attention at Constance Billard and wants to keep it that way. But will the arrival of her estranged sister Zoya Lott (Whitney Peak) and the re-emergence of the prolific social media troll known only as ‘Gossip Girl’ threaten her perfect image?
“When the first series came around, social media wasn’t anywhere close to what it is now. The idea of how we curate ourselves daily on all these various platforms is the prevailing theme of this version of Gossip Girl,” returning showrunner Joshua Safran said of the show, which also stars Tavi Gevinson, Emily Alyn Lind, Evan Mock, Zion Moreno and Savannah Lee Smith.
Of the central character, Safran added: “Julien spends her time curating herself to say: ‘This is who I am’. But then along comes Gossip Girl to burst the bubble and show everyone who she REALLY is. And because Julien is already aware of the dichotomy, having that exposed is much more horrifying.”
Actress and model Alexander - who plays Julien - understands how social media can be used as a tool for good, and evil…
“If you use social media in the wrong way and specifically seek out pages that make you feel bad or make you feel like you’re not good enough, that’s gonna have a really negative impact on you,” she said.
“There is the positive side of social media in terms of spreading awareness and sharing stories but you do have to be careful. You shouldn’t just let it be a free-for-all, you should curate what you’re viewing and what you’re exposing your spirit to."
As well as the brand-new show, fans can enjoy delving into a box set on BBC iPlayer of all six series of the original US hit, which ran until 2012.
Viewers will undoubtedly be looking out for similarities in the characters' past and present - and the mysterious Max Wolfe is sure to remind people of the original series’ enigmatic Chuck Bass, portrayed by Ed Westwick.
"In terms of the dynamics within the group, they definitely play a similar role but the times have changed greatly," revealed Edinburgh-born Thomas Doherty, who plays him.
"Max is a lot more fluid in his sexuality and there are major elements to Max that don’t correlate with Chuck. I definitely feel Chuck was a bit darker; Max is very open and lives to experience things but he does it in a lighter way."
Despite some major rivalries playing out on screen, we’re assured that the class of the all-new Gossip Girl are the best of friends behind the scenes…
"The chemistry between the cast is fantastic, we all really get along," said Eli Brown, who plays Julien’s love interest, Obie Bergmann.
"With a show that is this anticipated with so much buzz behind it, it’s really important to have a group of peers that you can rely on, support and be supported by."
Gossip Girl starts on Wednesday August 25th at 10.35pm on BBC1, with all six episodes available as a box set on iPlayer.
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