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All the Original “Gossip Girl” References in Episode 1 of the Reboot

Gossip Girl is back with a whole new cast of wealthy, stylish teens. But just because the not-a-reboot isn’t a direct remake doesn’t mean there aren’t echoes of — direct references to — the original series. 

Name dropping Blair, Dan, Serena, and Nate is just the beginning for episode one, which premiered in July 8. (Spoilers ahead for episode 1, including the reveal of who Gossip Girl is in the new version.) While the new series is a distinctive show, in many ways radically different than the original, the callbacks to the first Gossip Girl era are irresistible. And the pilot is just the beginning.

Below, we rounded up the biggest original Gossip Girl throwbacks in episode one of HBO Max’s series — and we look forward to the many more to come.

Zoya’s Dream School

A little Blair right off the bat, as a treat? Zoya Lott is a brand new Constance student, who talks up her transfer to her skeptical dad. It’ll give her a better shot at her dream school, she says, referring to the one and only Yale (she’s interested, fittingly, in their drama school). Blair Waldorf also had Yale aspirations early on in the series, though she ended up attending NYU and Columbia.

Zoya’s “Headband”

When Zoya begins talking to the central clique on the Met steps, Julien asserts, “She’s cool.” But Savannah Smith’s Monet sneers back, “She has a headband on.” Though Zoya protests it’s actually her late mother’s scarf, Julien takes a moment to re-style her. Alas, Blair’s iconic headbands didn’t stand the test of time in this universe.

GOSSIP GIRL from left Nicole Fiscella Amanda Setton Leighton Meester Yin Chang 'The ExFiles' 2007. photo Giovanni...
©CW Network/Courtesy Everett Collection

Nate Archibald Is Aging Well, Apparently

In the midst of a rant about the stuck-up, wealth and status-obsessed teens at Constance-Billiard, Tavi Gevinson’s Kate Keller takes a moment to observe on alumni past. “This school produced great people! Caroline Kennedy, Colson Whitehead, Nate Archibald!” she says in outrage (and a pretty generous reading of Nate’s character — a former prospective Gossip Girl himself). Luckily, a colleague (and former student) chimes in: “It’s not like Nate Archibald was such a saint when he started.” And that brings us to the new show’s central premise. “When I was a student, we lived under constant threat. People like Nate were scared straight.”

The Rebirth of Gossip Girl

It’s that former classmate who plants a seed of an idea into the minds of teachers at Constance, revealing the original GG as Dan Humphrey. (“The novelist?” Kate asks, seemingly confirming that Dan’s literary career is still going strong.) Dan’s old blog is pulled up, and the teachers are off to the races… to recreate Gossip Girl in the hopes of teaching their students a lesson.

A Verdict on Chuck & Blair

While perusing the old Gossip Girl blog, the teachers have many thoughts on the way students used to act (a clever commentary on the show itself and its more problematic plot lines). “This Chuck and Blair thing is out of control, definitely pre cancel culture,” Kate says. Her colleague then asks, “Did you get to the part where she was Princess of Monaco for six months?” Another adds, “Or when a high school senior got a story in the New Yorker?” Hey, the original Gossip Girl wasn’t necessarily known for its down-to-earth nature.

And a Little Lesson Learned from Serena vs. Blair

As the teachers prepare to launch a new Gossip Girl, they ponder old plot points. “Gossip Girl would have been nothing without Blair vs. Serena. Their rivalry launched her, we need our own,” Kate says. And thus the central rivalry of the new GG is born — Julien vs. Zoya, though it might not be that simple.

The first episode of Gossip Girl is now streaming on HBO Max.

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