Insulting the headband was just plain hurtful
HBO Max/Warner Bros. TV
Hey, Upper East Siders. “Gossip Girl” is back, and though the HBO Max reboot is clearly making it a point to show how this world has changed since the original CW series, there are certainly some distinct similarities. In fact, the reboot has already made some direct nods to its predecessor.
To recap, here’s what things are like for Manhattan’s elite in 2021. This “Gossip Girl” focuses on teens Julien Calloway (Jordan Alexander), Zoya Lott (Whitney Peak), Obie Bergmann IV (Eli Brown), Aki Menzies (Evan Mock), Audrey Hope (Emily Alyn Lynd), Max Wolfe (Thomas Doherty), Luna La (Zion Moreno) and Monet de Haan (Savannah Smith). They’re basically all influencers or socialites, and they spare Gossip Girl little more than snide comments, making fun of how things worked in the early 2000s.
Like in the original “Gossip Girl,” they attend Constance Billard/St. Jude’s (it’s one, co-ed school now), the prep school where the original series was set. But the connections to the original go far deeper than that. Below, see a running list of every OG “Gossip Girl” Easter egg (even the deep cuts) in the first season of the HBO Max reboot.
While fans of the original CW series won’t see any major character cameos in the HBO Max version just yet, the first episode made sure to tie the two series together with some pretty heavy name-dropping. Nate Archibald (Chace Crawford) is referenced within the first 10 minutes.
“This school produced great people! Caroline Kennedy, Coulson Whitehead, Nate Archibald! It’s why I wanted to teach here,” Kate (Tavi Gevinson) exclaims as she and her coworkers lament their status at the school.
In the same breath that Nate is mentioned, Dan Humphrey (Penn Badgely) is, too — because obviously you can’t recreate Gossip Girl without acknowledging the original person. Apparently, Dan is still a novelist, and a well-known one at that.
Kate is shocked when her colleague Rebecca tells her that such a big name was the OG GG (which, if we’re being honest, doesn’t make total sense, because wasn’t Dan’s first book just… a fancier version of Gossip Girl? At least Kate’s coworker acknowledges that he thinks he remembers reading about it).
But speaking of Rebecca…
Look, even the most devoted “Gossip Girl” fan couldn’t be faulted for not knowing this one. Rebecca is a deep-cut cameo — from a character who never actually appeared on screen.
In the reboot, Rebecca is a teacher at Constance/St. Jude who inspires her coworkers to become the new team Gossip Girl. (Yes, GG is a group of teachers now; we’re rolling with it). The irony is, apparently Rebecca is no stranger to being a Gossip Girl suspect. As she explains to her coworkers, “She kept us all accountable. People thought it was me, but it was actually one of my classmates, Dan Humphrey.”
Her full name is Rebecca Sherman, and in the Season 2 finale of the original series, she’s mentioned as Blair, Chuck, Nate and Serena try to decipher GG’s true identity during a graduation party.
Here’s the scene itself:
Again, we never actually see Rebecca on screen; only her profile picture. Even “Gossip Girl” creator Joshua Safran didn’t expect fans to remember her. But she was there!
Chuck Bass and Blair Waldorf
As the teachers continue to do their research on the old Gossip Girl, they quickly discover the tumultuous relationship between Chuck Bass (Ed Westwick) and Blair Waldorf (Leighton Meester). As Kate so bluntly puts it: “This Chuck and Blair thing is out of control.” Well, yes, that’s putting it mildly.
This moment is also used to remind us that Blair was, at one time, the Princess of Monaco, and that Dan had a piece he wrote published in The New Yorker (though he isn’t mentioned by name in this reference).
There’s also a moment later in the premiere where the teachers use a specific GG post for reference: “Spotted. Chuck Bass losing something no one knew he had to begin with: his heart.” That post comes in the 10th episode of Season 1, after Chuck spots Nate and Blair hooking up. Like we said, “out of control” is a gentle way of describing Chuck and Blair’s love story.
The Steps of The Met
Even though we knew it was going to happen thanks to the trailer, there was still something nostalgic about seeing Julien and her friends sitting on the steps of The Met for lunch. Countless wars were waged, friendships were formed and yogurt was spilled on those steps in the original “Gossip Girl,” and clearly not much has changed.
The Infamous Headband
In the original “Gossip Girl,” Blair Waldorf was queen bee, and in place of a crown, she had her iconic headband. In the HBO Max premiere, that headband gets its own shoutout — in the most brutal way.
When Julien attempts to stealthily help her half-sister Zoya be welcomed into her friend group, it goes about as well as you’d expect. Zoya’s an outsider and a freshman, and as Monet so disgustedly points out, “She has a headband on.” Technically it’s a scarf, but come on, Monet. Put some respect on the headband.
Blair and Serena
Surprisingly, Serena Van Der Woodsen, typically the main focus of the original Gossip Girl, doesn’t get name-checked a whole lot in the premiere. She’s listed as an archetype, as the teachers realize they need to target the popular kids — “the Serenas, Blairs, Nates and Chucks — make them think there’s another Dan Humphrey in their midst” — with their new account.
But then we touch on the friendship between Blair and Serena. Like Blair and Chuck, that friendship was complicated at the best of times. And it becomes the launchpad of the new Gossip Girl.
“Gossip Girl would’ve been nothing without Blair versus Serena. Their rivalry launched her,” Kate says. With that, they decide to focus on Julien and Zoya, positioning them to be the new dueling queen bees.
“Who knew what Blair and Serena’s friendship was actually like? Gossip Girl’s perception was reality,” Kate notes.
Realizing they’ve been targeted, Julien later admits that “it’s kind of a badge of honor” that she and Zoya are in GG’s crosshairs. But having done her research, she knows how to beat Gossip Girl — or at least, she thinks she does.
“All we have to do is take a page from the Blair and Serena playbook and beat Gossip Girl at her own game,” Julien confidently says.
Now, there are countless moments that spring to mind here, as Blair and Serena often tricked more than just Gossip Girl into thinking there was drama afoot. And it’s a nice reminder that as crazy as they could get, “they do besties better than anyone.”
Episode 2 of HBO Max’s “Gossip Girl” launches Thursday, July 15. We will update this list with more references as they come!
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