How the New 'Gossip Girl,' and the Rest of Teen TV, Got So Gay

Entertainment

The Wall Street Journal 22 July, 2021 - 07:30am 5 views

When do new episodes of Gossip Girl come out?

New episodes of Gossip Girl arrive to HBO Max weekly on Thursdays at 12 a.m. PT/3 a.m. ET. Whether you want to stay up late or rise extra early before work to tune in is entirely up to you. HarpersBAZAAR.comGossip Girl Episode Release Schedule on HBO Max - How to Watch Gossip Girl 2021

In the reboot of the teen drama series, which premiered this month on HBO Max, the queer characters are allowed to have a little more fun. In the second episode of the 2021 version, bisexual lothario Max takes his straight but seemingly curious best friend Aki to a bathhouse popular with gay men. Their mission? Find and seduce Max’s teacher. In an attempt to make the teacher jealous, Max and Aki end up making out near the steam room.

Although the series still takes place on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, the rebooted Gossip Girl doesn’t contain any of the high-society stuffiness of the original. It’s part of a spate of newer teen shows—especially those airing on streaming platforms—that are more diverse and envelope-pushing than the versions that came before them.

Original Gossip Girl creators Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage first developed the show, based on the popular book series by Cecily von Ziegesar, for the CW network. When Gossip Girl premiered in 2007, its scandalous plotlines drew furor from concerned critics, which the network then used in ads, including the words “every parent’s nightmare” on top of a picture of the show’s young star Blake Lively. Savage recalls being told that in Washington, politicians were highly concerned with the show’s depiction of a threesome, told mostly in blurry flashbacks.

“The original show was a product and a reflection of its time,” Schwartz says. “And we wanted the new show to be a reflection and product of this moment.” Schwartz and Savage serve as executive producers on the new version. They also collaborated on Fox’s 2003 teen drama The O.C. When Mischa Barton’s O.C. character Marissa Cooper kissed recurring guest star Olivia Wilde’s Alex Kelly, it was headline news. These days, Schwartz says, it’s much harder for a TV show to generate an outrage-fueled news cycle with its content.  “The fact that it’s not shocking and it’s not on the cover of the New York Post is actually a great thing for progress and representation on-screen,” he says.

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Everyone’s New Favorite Couple On Gossip Girl Is Not Who You’d Think

Refinery29 22 July, 2021 - 12:42pm

i just think that luke kirby in gossip girl pic.twitter.com/ofZ43DtzKG

I'd like @torilasso to explain what exactly Luke Kirby is doing on #GossipGirl . It's some sort of Ryan Gosling/Tom Hardy "New York-er" thing that feels like it's from a different show. pic.twitter.com/ddEZV1r1Cx

My biggest crush on gossip girl would be Luke Kirby

not her getting stalked in both universes https://t.co/fXlSSuDyYR

the stalking elizabeth lail cinematic universe #GossipGirl You (2018) pic.twitter.com/LDbrIsWW7j

When Will ‘Gossip Girl’ Episode 4 Premiere?

Decider 22 July, 2021 - 11:45am

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If you’re all caught up, you’re probably wondering when you can expect your next dose of drama. On that front we have you covered. Here’s everything you need to know about how to watch Gossip Girl Episode 4.

The end of your week just got a whole lot juicier. Thursdays mark the premiere of new episodes of Gossip Girl.

After Max’s (Thomas Doherty) myriad of confrontations, we know you’re desperate for more drama. Gossip Girl Episode 4 premieres on Thursday, July 29. This upcoming episode is titled “Fire Walks with Z.” Better watch out, Julien. Between this and Luna’s newfound alliance with your sister, Zoya just became a main player.

If you want to watch new episodes as soon as humanly possible, you’re in for an early morning. The fourth episode of Gossip Girl will premiere on Thursday, July 29 at 3:01/2:01c a.m. That Thursday, if you don’t see the episode appear right away, don’t worry. Hit refresh and it should appear in a couple of minutes.

This is where things get a bit difficult. Though Season 1 of Gossip Girl has 12 episodes, only the first half are premiering now. The other half will return in the fall. Here’s what we know about the schedule so far:

The only way to watch Episode 2 and beyond of Gossip Girl is to have HBO Max. Thankfully, that’s pretty easy to get. If you have HBO NOW or if you signed up to HBO through your cable subscription, you already have HBO Max. To access it just use your HBO NOW or cable username and password on HBO Max’s site or app. Now you’re all free to catch up.

What if you don’t have any form of HBO? Then now’s the time to sign up. Unfortunately, HBO Max doesn’t offer a free trial, but subscriptions are fairly manageable. Subscriptions to HBO Max cost $9.99 a month for a plan with ads or $14.99 a month for the ad-free option. If you’re open to a yearly plan, that comes with a discount. Yearly memberships cost $99.99 for the plan with ads and $149.99 for the plan without them. Unfortunately, HBO Max doesn’t offer a free trial.

Schemes, lies, and firewalls truly bring Gossip Girl to life

The A.V. Club 22 July, 2021 - 10:00am

“Lies Wide Shut” (written by Lila Feinberg and directed by Jennifer Lynch) is also the first episode to really feel like this version of Gossip Girl knows how to move. For better or worse, the original Gossip Girl always felt like it was in motion—like New York City itself—as opposed to the sleepiness this version has. (The sleepiness is most present in how it’s been promoted though.) While Karena Evans created a distinct visual style for the series, it’s a look that specifically focuses on simply stopping and taking a peek into this world. It very much feels at arm’s length, keeping the audience at a distance because they’re outsiders. But being an insider isn’t just a Gossip Girl thing, it’s a television thing, and Lynch’s direction here officially extends the invitation.

Watching these characters at The Public Theater, just before the premiere of the new Jeremy O. Harris play, plans in motion and guilt in overdrive—it’s all simply the most alive this show has felt when it comes to its teen characters. When it comes to its focal point, despite who Gossip Girl actually is. As the camera spins around as Max and Julien scheme—and Audrey figuratively spins while overthinking things—Gossip Girl feels like Gossip Girl. It’s fun. It’s a little tense. It’s Gossip Girl.

The episode also confirms that getting away from the Julien/Zoya feud absolutely was the right choice. Things aren’t perfect—although Julien snarking at Zoya and Obie at the play kind of is—between the half-sisters, but in allowing them to branch off on their own, the episode (and show) is easily better for it. However, on her own, Zoya still struggles as a character because of her status as the show’s regular person. While there are obviously moments (like in this episode) of her trying to be someone she’s not, Zoya’s story is not the same as Jenny Humphrey’s; she’s not trying to get into the in-crowd, she’s attempting to just be. But much like in a supernatural series, a character who just wants a normal life is simply at odds with the show. That is one thing that the Gossip Girl situation hurts: As the teachers are the outsiders attempting to be insiders, the show isn’t all that concerned with its teenage outsider being an insider. On the one hand, that’s a valuable lesson about nonconformity in a teen drama. But on the other hand, that sinks interest in this character’s plot, comparatively.

In an episode that starts with the Gabriel García Márquez quote, “Everyone has three lives: a public life, a private life, and a secret life,” Zoya is the one character who doesn’t have that here. There’s the secret about what happened at her old school, but considering how easily she reveals to Luna that she’s not supposed to be living in her grandmother’s rent-controlled apartment, even Zoya’s secret life isn’t so secret. Gossip Girl adds a fourth life, a “dating life,” and Zoya does have that... But as this episode unpacks the layers of its characters—including the parents, other than Nick—it noticeably isn’t able to do that with Zoya. It gives a little more to Obie, as Zoya has him think about his role in his relationship with Julien failing, but compared to the rest of the episode and its intent for these characters, something is missing.

Yet, having said all that, the moment in this episode that is the truest to the spirit of the original Gossip Girl is the one where Jeremy O. Harris makes his cameo and takes Zoya aside for a one-on-one chat for his play.

But if, as viewers, we’re still pitting Zoya and Julien against each other, then Julien wins this particular round. There’s a bit of bumpiness early in the Julien/Max plot—as Julien having fun comes off as completely performative, which is not the show’s intention—but the episode quickly moves past that. Once things get into “space coke” and the very realistic bathroom best friends scene between Julien and Lola (Elizabeth Lail) territory, Julien is officially at her best. It helps that “Lies Wide Shut” also elevates the type of parent-children dynamic focus for Gossip Girl that “She’s Having A Maybe” featured. Nick remains a parent bot in his one scene and Gossip Girl forces Luke Kirby to permanently wear an obnoxious hat, but the parental scheming Julien and Max do in this episode works far better than Julien’s original scheme from the pilot.

In fact, despite the fact that this episode features the most open drug use, underage drinking, and sexual content—this is the Gossip Girl episode with full-frontal male nudity—it is also the episode where the kids are their most kid-like. In a good way, as their behavior throughout is the type of thing that makes you want to root for them or at least feel for them. It’s the reason the Julien/Max messaround is as successful as it is, as is Max’s emotional breakdown over his now broken family. As I’ve said many times before, “predictable” isn’t inherently a bad thing. It can be a sign that a story is following a logical progression, which is something that should never be taken for granted. In this episode alone, it’s “predictable” early on that the Gossip Girl crew is going to make Rima the scapegoat, just as it’s “predictable” (even if not to Max) from their first scene that the issue between Roy/“Pops” (John Benjamin Hickey) and Gideon/“Dad” (Todd Almond) boils down to gender norms. It’s also “predictable” that poor, sweet, naive Zoya once again revealing personal information is going to eventually be held against her.

This early on, the predictability also helps determine this world’s internal logic, especially compared to the original series. After all, this is a show that operates with a form of logic that explains why multiple teachers would think being Gossip Girl is a good idea. And despite how much it does so while winking, it also does operate in a more self-aware world. Take for example the fact that Julien never takes her issues with her father, Davis, out on Lola, his secret girlfriend. While doing the opposite would’ve provided drama—and would’ve easily been how the original Gossip Girl would’ve approached it—nothing is actually taken away from Julien not going after Lola. Unless you consider showing Julien to be a decent person once again taking away from the story the Gossip Girl crew is trying to craft. But I’m pretty sure that’s the point.

As I’ve noted Kate Keller’s outright villainy in the past two episodes, I can’t ignore that both Jordan and Wendy prove to be just as bad, if not worse, here. Keller actually somewhat takes a backseat to Jordan and Wendy’s planning and scheming this week, as “Lies Wide Shut” brings some more clarity to these character’s motivations. As has already been clocked, for Keller, Gossip Girl is a means to a bizarre form of high school popularity. Rima genuinely just wanted to teach the kids without distractions. For Wendy—who’s not a teacher but works in the school office—there appears to be a desire for chaos. As for Jordan, while it at first looked like he was simply all in because of Keller, this episode suggests he’s very much taken by the rush of power. So, the moment he brings up the school’s firewall (which he controls), it’s only a matter of time before he uses it to his (and Gossip Girl’s) advantage.

This whole thing began when Monet got one of their colleagues fired just because she could, and now they’ve gotten one of their colleagues fired just so they don’t have to stop being Gossip Girl. In terms of these characters losing the plot, I can’t imagine that anyone watching has actually bought into their claims that Gossip Girl is creating a better environment for the school. That a couple of their colleagues supposedly agree—and I question Rafa’s testimony that the students have been “more respectful”—with that assessment is all the fuel they need to continue down this path. Meanwhile, while Gossip Girl sends Audrey and Aki into a tizzy thinking a blind item blast is about them—and doesn’t even realize they’ve done this to them—the “more respectful” students of Constance Billard-St. Jude’s are cyberbullying Zoya under Luna’s hashtagging orders. It’s almost really funny that, even when Gossip Girl isn’t actively trying to ruin Zoya’s life for no reason, forces are still at work to try to ruin Zoya’s life (as a result of Gossip Girl’s humble beginnings). If anything, while characters like Julien and Audrey may work to keep hush-hush to avoid Gossip Girl hearing their secrets, “Lies Wide Shut” only shows that characters like Luna and Monet have either become emboldened by Gossip Girl or simply still don’t care. And the latter is much like the Gossip Girl crew itself.

Watching this episode, I did, however, find myself sometimes struggling to fully latch onto certain lines of dialogue, and that’s something that has been the case since the pilot. While there are quips, that’s not the show’s bread and butter. Instead, Gossip Girl feels in some ways like an updated Dawson’s Creek in terms of its verbiage, begging for “no teen talks like that” criticisms. Sure, no one is talking about their electrical synapses being on overload, they are talking about toppling the patriarchy during makeover montages. I spent a good portion of the pilot imagining what a Kevin Williamson version of Gossip Girl would look like, as the show’s self-awareness especially resembles that of classic Williamson. (I imagine that if it were present-day Williamson at the helm, it would be an adaption of Gossip Girl, Psycho Killer.)

And much like early Dawson’s Creek, it’s very apparent when the cast isn’t accustomed to the cadence of the dialogue. For example, up top, there’s the Julien/Luna/Monet “fuck the patriarchy” scene that I couldn’t help but scratch my head at during and after. I truly believe the scene is almost on to something satire-wise, but it’s not quite there—to the point where it ends up being the kind of scene posted on social media just to show people how bad the show is. (Because, again, “no teen talks like that.”) These characters are constantly monologuing at each other, and that’s a style that can work... but it can also fail. Right now, it’s hard not to sometimes zone out during these moments. With Luna getting to do more than just be the tall mean girl in this episode, Zión Moreno shines. Not during the monologuing moments but in beats like Luna’s confusion about a phone call or the “smizing” effect of wearing contact lenses when you don’t need them. Both work far better than the monologue she gives while on the phone—even though you’ve gotta love when a teen drama pulls a Pygmalion—or in that aforementioned Julien/Luna/Monet scene.

But as I mentioned last week, Evan Mock’s performance is the weakest and flattest of the cast, and the style of dialogue does him no favors. As Gossip Girl also comes from the Josh Schwartz school of writing, the episode delightfully does a back-to-back scene paralleling two conversations and anchoring it with a specific phrase (“I’m a terrible person.”) The energy and performance of the Julien/Audrey bathroom scene and the Aki/Obie hallway scene is like night and day, even though it is intentionally structured to have the same energy. It also doesn’t help, on a character level, that Aki is freaking out about kissing Max as part of a honeypot situation, which is nowhere in the same stratosphere as Audrey sleeping with Max. While there’s the sexuality question looming over Aki’s head because he enjoyed the kiss, the performance simply can’t handle it. When Aki says he’s freaking out just because he kissed someone else, all that comes across is that he’s freaking out just because he kissed someone else. While there is intention beyond what’s simply on the page, Mock doesn’t show an ability to actually evoke that intention. Instead, we have scenes like the one where he and Audrey have more bad sex and he freaks out about her going for his ass—because the subtext has to be text for anything to come across for this character.

That’s why it’s confusing that the episode focuses more on Aki’s spiraling than Audrey’s, especially since the small amount of anxious Audrey we get shows off Emily Alyn Lind’s comedic chops. In different ways, both Lind and Thomas Doherty prove their ability to pull off the kind of performance balancing act that makes a successful Gossip Girl character like Blair Waldorf and Chuck Bass, respectively. So as the triangle continues, their energy—and the fact that they actually have energy—propels the story in every way, shape, or form. Because, unlike Aki, it’s not all that Audrey and Max have going for them, as evidenced by their familial plots in these past two episodes.

With Monet and Luna appropriately waiting in the wings for a great deal of this episode, the conclusion allows for the show to confirm that it does realize the better, more interesting story of butting heads stems from Julien versus her “minions” (and their decision to take matters into their own hands). Even if not outright a rivalry, Gossip Girl sees that the machinations of these antagonist characters make more sense to drive the plot than the forced feud between half-sisters who just want to get to know each other. While Julien isn’t 100% on great terms with Zoya yet, the fact that she’s blood means the show will most likely never go full scorched earth when it comes to these characters; but you can always do that with Julien and her “friends.” In fact, separating Julien from Monet and Luna—and focusing more on her friendship with Audrey and Max—really helps things fall into place as character and friendship dynamics, in general.

Oh yeah, and Gossip Girl will probably wreak some havoc or something too.

Gossip Girl Recap: Petty Little Liars

Vulture 22 July, 2021 - 07:00am

Let’s start with a rundown of Keller & Co. I’m starting to feel like these characters deserve their own separate recap, maybe a newsletter, because their behavior and its potential consequences require so much analysis. But keeping it brief: The teachers are basically subjected to a witch hunt after the administrators discover Gossip Girl. The group ends up sacrificing Reema by giving her a tip to send to Gossip Girl (while they’re all under surveillance) that could possibly help her husband get rehired to a teaching job from which he was unfairly terminated. This is only a temporary solution for the rest of the teachers’ problems as long as they keep running Gossip Girl, and I’m not sure why the school can’t just contact Instagram or the police to get the account shut down. Also, one of them says Gossip Girl will be “impossible to trace” now that they’re getting tips from other schools and the account has gone citywide. Will it, though?

Now on to our teens. Julien has accepted defeat in the Obie department and is now searching for a hot new heir to maintain her Queen Bee status, like Mia Thermopolis in The Princess Diaries 2. In this universe, the characters must be aware of how sexist this requirement is, so we get a couple of stilted “fuck the patriarchy” comments and Brad Pitt references from Luna and Monet before they insist it’s something she has to do anyway. Max, being the most reflective of the bunch, suggests that Julien awaken her inner hot girl and have a wild night out with him to remind her of who she is. Multiple people throughout this episode, including Julien, point out that she has “lost her way,” and I’m not sure what this means because we don’t know what path she was previously on that didn’t include being the top bitch at school. But I certainly enjoy watching her have a coke-fueled identity crisis.

That night, she encounters a friendly blonde woman in the bathroom who turns out to be a songwriter her father has been secretly courting (and housing) for a year. This deeply upsets Julien, the way your parents not telling you every detail of their adult lives deeply upsets you when you’re a child. So she ends up inviting the woman to a Jeremy O. Harris play that she and her father attend at the end of the episode to confront them about it in person. More on that later!

Meanwhile, America’s second-worst couple (ranking just above Jared and Ivanka) are experiencing identity crises of their own. Zoya becomes the victim of a Twitter campaign led by Luna called #Zugly that features photos of her eating food and allegedly looking “ugly.” In order to stop it, she agrees to be Pygmalion-ed by Luna, who’s ready to jump ship from the sinking Titanic that is Julien. This story line is very amusing because Luna basically just slaps some eye shadow on Zoya and makes her wear heels. The writers don’t seem to understand that hotness according to Gen Z encompasses a range of aesthetics and fashion choices, from looking like a Kardashian to dressing like Elaine from Seinfeld. Oppressive body standards are obviously still a thing, but Zoya, who looks like an American Girl doll come to life, certainly fits them (at least in this world, where light-skinned Black girls can reign supreme over their white peers). Does it really matter if she dresses like she shops at the hipster side of H&M as opposed to, I don’t know, the business-casual side of H&M?

Obie is still spewing basic talking points about the urban working class at every turn. In one scene where he has dinner with Zoya and her dad, he gives him a rundown of — you guessed it — gentrification! This sort of lesson from Barron Trump would get you kicked out of my African American household immediately, but her dad ultimately finds him endearing. It’s Zoya who eventually tells him he needs to accept that he is and will always be a nepto-baby of capitalistic supervillains. At the very least, Zoya is a good audience surrogate.

Aki and Audrey’s very adult relationship problems are probably the funniest part of this entire episode. Not only are they cheating on each other with the same person and needlessly trying to make their relationship work like an unhappy married couple sticking it out for the kids, but they’re also trying butt stuff. Meanwhile, Max finds out that one of his dads is on a dating app, so he gets Aki to catfish him using the identity of his teacher crush, Rafa. This secret, along with everyone’s individual issues, comes to a head at a fictitious Jeremy O. Harris play titled Aaron. (What a week for this cameo, amirite?) Literally everyone on the show is somehow here for whatever reason, including hot teacher Rafa, whom Max messily invites. He ends up exposing his adulterous father, who’s no longer attracted to his husband as he has become more openly feminine. Julien also lets her dad know it’s totally not cool that he has a girlfriend she doesn’t know about, before they eventually make up in the sweetest way possible.

I would say 80 percent of this episode is just children being adorably naïve, bratty, and angry at their parents, which I found way more fun than watching Zoya and Julien be repeatedly reprimanded by their dads last week. Next week, I’m hoping Monet and Luna get some backstory and character development as they plan to stir up some chaos between Zoya and Julien. The “sidekick of the most popular girl at school” is a stock character that could use some updating. It would be a shame if these sharp, stunning girls are just lazily written off as followers this entire season.

• We finally see Monet making out with a girl after weeks of knowing that her character’s a “powerful lesbian,” according to Wikipedia. I know the children on Twitter have been waiting for this, so congrats!

• I loved how the teacher-witch-hunt story line this episode dovetails with last week’s Criterion release of Jill Sprecher’s Clockwatchers, in which a group of female office temps who find themselves at the center of an internal investigation start to turn on one another.

• We need an oral history on how Carla Hall ended up on this show.

'Gossip Girl' recap: The sins of our fathers

Entertainment Weekly News 22 July, 2021 - 05:00am

And pie painfully, please.

Some things in this reboot are so gratuitously absurd that they strike that perfect Gossip Girl balance of delighting and enraging simultaneously. For example, a 14-year-old yelling at adults about the true! meaning! of Broadway! and subsequently winning the attention of Jeremy O. Harris for her spot-on critiques that double as climactic! character! growth! Or, say, parental entrapment via the Scruff app — not the kind of teenage impulsiveness that rings true, but definitely the kind of TV-teenage impulsiveness that gets your attention.

But other parts — like say any part involving these nasty, nasty little Smeagol-esque teachers — are so intolerable that they invoke flames on the side of my pore-less, pimple-less, flawless teenage face. As a result, this is the episode where I decided that the only thing that will make this teachers-as-Gossip-Girl storyline worthwhile is if these dummies finally go full-tilt villain. Because I simply cannot tolerate anything less than a full descent into madness, followed by a complete and total dismantling of the woman who, in this episode, snorts, "That's gonna be bad for business," after it's announced that phones will no longer be allowed inside Constance because the students are being spied on and cyber-bullied by — checks notes — her. Kate Keller is an actual sociopath and I'd love her to be presented as a villain we're intended to root against.

It is, of course, fully possible to root for an antihero. But Miss Keller ain't Thanos. You don't hear her plan to make kids better students by publicizing their deepest, darkest secrets, and think, "Huh, this bitch is kinda making some points." You think, "This lady has lost it, and she must be dealt with and destroyed." And hey, if these teens can just work through their many parental and peer issues, they just might be able to team up Avengers-style, and finally get her ass (and her little pals too).

As for the current status of our Upper East Siders, Julien seems to have gone back to disliking Zoya without explanation, except for maybe the fact that Obie likes her too much. Constance's new it-couple are canoodling all over school and in transit because they're not technically allowed to date yet by Zoya's dad. But Zoya has bigger fish to fry than dating woes, seeing as she's become a social media target overnight. There are memes comparing her to pizza rat, rumors that she's an NYC-basher, and Luna has asked the Jul-Lions to get #Zugly trending. Poor Little Z… who Gossip Girl says might become "Lonely Z" if she doesn't elevate her social game to the level that dating the "prince of New York" requires. Which is why Luna, in all her benevolence, offers to make Zoya over Pygmalion-style, but minus the "feminized transformation in order to please a cis man" of it all…

Just kidding, Luna offers because it's becoming clear to both her and Monet (who's busy making out with a girl during this whole conversation, by the by) that Jules is either unwilling, or incapable of reclaiming her place as HBIC, and they don't want to go down with that sinking ship…

Or snorting ship, as it were. You see, Julien has finally accepted what everyone has been telling her all season long (and Max reinforces after her attempts to date a number of non-Obie heirs, including the Bonus Jonas, fall flat): "You're a billboard, not person." Which is even further evidenced by Julien reiterating the same sentiment in a much more cliché way: "It's like I lost myself somehow." But Max knows just how to help Julien find herself again, and it's… drugs, I guess? The next thing we know, Max has taken Julien out for an inhibition-free night of partying where she wears a mostly sheer catsuit and snorts anything put in front of her. While in the bathroom, Julien has the most realistic interaction of the series thus far: two women drunkenly giving each other a bunch of compliments, and dishing out what they're sure is sage advice while peeing…

Unfortunately, the other woman is soon revealed to be Julien's father's secret girlfriend who he's been hiding from his daughter for over a year. And it's revealed by Julien spotting her dad from across the room, and gasping "Oh my God, it's my dad," at the exact same time that Max gasps the exact same thing after spotting his own father on Scruff, listed as "newly single." Cinema, and I'm not kidding. This leads to yet another Extraordinarily Ill-Advised Julien Calloway Plan (copyright pending). Only this time, it's also sponsored by Max Wolfe, who will be executing the same, perhaps even more ill-advised plan!

Max's non-cheating dad, who I think is a theater critic, has managed to get 30-ish randos tickets to the opening night of Jeremy O. Harris' new off-Broadway play, Aaron (a loose adaptation of Titus Andronicus, natch), including all of Max's 16-year-old friends. Ahead of the play, Max asks Aki to pose as their teacher Mr. Camparros on Scruff — which Aki pretends to be resistant to, only to ultimately take his assignment quite seriously, striking up a few other chats just in case — and engage his pops in conversation, in order to…

Well, it's unclear exactly what Max wants to achieve. But what ends up happening is that the real Mr. Camparros (gifted a ticket to the play by Max) runs into Pops, who attempts to apologize for their messages. But Mr. Camparros never even gets the chance to be confused, because Max pulls his dad over to reveal that his husband has been messaging other men on Scruff. What follows is a very sad conversation about how Pops thinks Dad (I'm so sorry, they do not seem to have character names yet) has "changed" because, presumably, he has taken on a more femme style than he had when they originally got together. But Dad says he isn't the one who's changed — and they say it all in front of their teenage son who's just realized he may have made a mistake in prioritizing short-term dramatics over long-term resolution while sorting through family matters…

And ditto for Julien. She invites her dad, Davis, to be her plus-one to the play, then invites his girlfriend Lola (Elizabeth Layle from You, still being haunted by the memory of Penn Badgley), who thinks she's been invited by Davis, only to then wiggle her fingers from across the theater in a "gotcha!" wave once she spots them together. Davis is angry, but once it's pointed out to him that he's the one who's been faking business trips to hang out with his secret girlfriend while leaving his teenage daughter home alone, he kind of just has to let her storm off in peace because that is, obviously, messed up.

But if you can believe it, Julien and Max aren't even the weirdest behaving teens at this play. You see, Zoya accepted her makeover from Luna, which came with a Dua Lipa-style list of rules for how to act in public:

She says "wear flats" with the most conviction. So, when Zoya shows up looking exactly as beautiful as she always does, but this time in platforms, and Obie compliments her, Zoya takes that as confirmation that he actually wishes she was like this all the time.

Being sad does at least makes it much easier for Zoya to follow Luna's advice to never share her opinions or eat food in public, two of her otherwise favorite things to do. But at the after-party, when Max's dad and another critic are discussing how Aaron was too confrontational, and they'll simply have to give their backing to the gender-swapped My Fair Lady starring Jake Gyllenhaal instead, Zoya can no longer sit in starving silence. Dropping her secret spring roll, she marches right up to them and exclaims, "A provocative play like Aaron is exactly what Broadway needs after a year on pause!"

They are alarmed to find a 14-year-old yelling at them in a nightclub, but they may as well stop booing because she's right: "What Broadway doesn't need is another revisal of anything, especially one devised by white people, about white people, starring white people!" Jeremy O. Harris likes what he hears and steals Zoya away for a chat, but Obie puts on his little puppy dog face after overhearing Zoya's passionate exclamations. Why won't she be passionate with him?!

When Zoya explains her sullenness to him later, Obie reminds her that he of course wants her to be herself, and that's the very reason he broke up with Julien. For that, Zoya has an interesting take: "Have you ever thought about how you might have contributed to that? It's hard to date the Prince of New York when he won't even admit who he is." Obie's itty bitty earring glistens in the streetlights as he's reminded that just because he's aware of his privilege doesn't make him any less privileged. In that moment, he is a changed man — because literally, in that moment, Julien walks by, and Obie is fully prepared to apologize for not accepting any of the responsibility for who Julien became while they were dating.

Julien appreciates the apology, telling Obie, "I spent so much time putting forward this idea of me that I just forgot who I was a little, just like everyone has, apparently," as she glances over his shoulder: "Everyone except her." The sight of Zoya leaned against a building, basking in the glow of singlehandedly beginning to heal the Upper East Side from the inside out actually made me cackle. The old Gossip Girl excelled at absurd villains, but hey, maybe the new Gossip Girl can excel at absurd heroes.

And speaking of the titular Gossip Girl, if you've noticed she's been rather quiet during her students' antics this week, that's because she's in danger. Miss Keller only gets to smirk out one "it's working" early in the episode before all of the Constance-St. Jude teachers are called to an emergency meeting. The parents have finally taken notice that their children are being targeted by an anonymous gossip site, and they've hired a federal agency to get to the bottom of it. Jordan, the guy who's always schilling Yetis and pining for Kate Keller, assures the rest of the Gossip Girl gang that they're protected. The FBI will be no match for the li'l firewall he put on the school servers, so they just need to make sure to only post from school grounds… but also only post outside of school hours now that phones have been banned… and also try to post about things that only disgruntled students would post about, not disgruntled teachers.

So, needless to say, there's not a lot of posting going on. But even so, teachers are suddenly being scheduled for individual interviews with the agents investigating Gossip Girl. The teachers decide they need a scapegoat, and I actually can't believe that they didn't just pin it on a child given their complete disdain for them. Unfortunately for Reema, who always seemed the least sociopathic of the bunch, her husband expresses distaste for the fact that his wife and her friends are bullying kids on Zendaya's internet, and Miss Keller and Jordan take this as a betrayal. They feed Reema a Gossip Girl tip through Wendy that they know she won't be able to resist, remind her that they all have the password, and remove the firewall in the hopes that she makes the post.

Indeed, she does, and the rats have their scapegoat. Jordan assures Miss Keller that they didn't make Reema post on Gossip Girl, and I would like to assure him that there's a little something called "manipulation" that comes ever so naturally to unchecked narcissists. But enough with the childlike adults, let's end with the reboot's most crown-worthy villains: Luna and Monet, looking over their kingdom, ready to deploy the secrets they've been gathering all episode like the Varys and Little Finger of the Upper East Side that they are. See you back here next week for the Re(d)nt-Controlled Wedding.

What to watch on Thursday: ‘Kandisha’ on Shudder

The Washington Post 21 July, 2021 - 03:59pm

Gossip Girl (HBO Max) The school attempts to find who’s behind Gossip Girl, and Julien and Max discover shocking family secrets.

Walker (CW at 8) Walker and Micki investigate a bomb threat targeting Liam and Stan, and Abeline and Bonham begin planning a vow renewal.

Making It (NBC at 8) The makers customize a generic house’s front door and front porch.

Jersey Shore: Family Vacation (MTV at 8) Ronnie and Mike have the “rematch of the century.”

Grown-ish (Freeform at 8) The gang goes back to Cal U, and Zoey needs to find an internship and faces Rochelle during the search.

Dateline: Secrets Uncovered (Oxygen at 8) A baby named Savanna disappears during a custody battle, and investigators travel almost 10,000 miles to find out what happened.

Million Dollar Listing New York (Bravo at 8) Team Serhant hosts private showings with a buyer who has never been to New York City.

Big Brother (CBS at 8) Strangers are cut off from the world and live together in an isolated house.

Top Chef Amateurs (Bravo at 9) Two amateur chefs work with “Top Chef” alums Joe Flamm and Tiffany Derry to match flavor profiles and make one cohesive dish.

The Outpost (CW at 9) Garret attacks a new queen and has visions that show a new threat, and Talon and Zed plan a way to save the Blackbloods.

Restaurant: Impossible (Food at 9) Ship Inn in Pennsylvania is crushed by its owner’s overbearing management style and nearly $900,000 of debt.

Love Island (CBS at 9) Singles flirt and try to fall in love for an ultimate prize for one couple.

Good Girls (NBC at 9) The girls must do a heist ordered by the Secret Service, and Stan and Dean form an alliance.

Alone (History at 9:30) Wildlife stalks the remaining competitors, and one person sees a grizzly that’s a little too close for comfort.

Impractical Jokers (TruTV at 10) Q, Prince Herb, Murr and Joe try their hardest to prove they’re advertiser-friendly and then tell strangers their life stories.

Christina on the Coast (HGTV at 9) A family of sports fans take on too much in a renovation, so Christina steps in to help.

Ultra City Smiths (AMC Plus) Two detectives investigate the mysterious disappearance of a politician while navigating corruption and dangerous suspects.

Through Our Eyes (HBO Max) Centering the experiences of children facing challenging issues within their families.

Kandisha (Shudder) During the summer, bored French teenagers summon a spirit that destroys men. Pictured: Mathilde Lamusse as Amélie, Suzy Bemba as Bintou, Samarcande Saadi as Morjana.

Words Bubble Up Like Soda Pop (Netflix) A shy boy with a penchant for haiku and a self-conscious girl have a lovely, magical summer together.

Ghost Adventures (Discovery Plus) Season 21.

Tonight Show/Fallon (NBC at 11:34) Kate Beckinsale, Fred Armisen, Leon Bridges.

Late Show/Colbert (CBS at 11:35) Hannah Einbinder, Alex Falcone.

Jimmy Kimmel Live (ABC at 11:35) Christian Slater, Chase Stokes, Kem, guest host Anthony Anderson.

Late Night/Meyers (NBC at 12:37) Mindy Kaling, Jack Antonoff, Bleachers, Taku Hirano.

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