Remember the mayhem of the original Gossip Girl? The glitz, glamor, and endless amounts of betrayal that was a delightful form of escapism? If you’re looking for a similar fix in HBO Max’s Gossip Girl reboot, you may be left feeling unsatisfied and craving something more explosive, but this episode still has it’s fair share of drama.
In season one episode two, titled “She’s Having a Maybe,” the show sets the stage for some classic Serena and Blair style fighting but fails to pick up any kind of sustainable intrigue. At the center of the story is Julien (Jordan Alexander) and Zoya (Whitney Peak) two half-sisters that are at odds while Julien’s ex-boyfriend, Obie (Eli Brown), shows a romantic interest in Zoya. Oh, the recycled man-drives-a-wedge-between-women trope we’ve seen countless times before. Julien recruits Gossip Girl to dig up some dirt on Zoya so she can plan an evil scheme to make Obie lose interest in her.
Zoya and Julien’s chemistry struggles to find it’s footing since the storyline doesn’t commit to them being at each other’s throats or the polar opposite. Instead, they’re stuck in this sisterhood purgatory where Julien wants to destroy Zoya’s reputation one minute, but then the next feels sorry for her and is begging her not to withdrawal from their high school. This kind of back-and-forth makes it difficult to decipher what kind of person Julien is. Does she really have a soft spot for her sister, or is she too manic about her intentions to pick a lane? It might just leave you screaming at the TV screen “Whose side are you on!”
There was one moment in the episode where it felt like things were finally going to get fiery. Up until this point, Julien’s Dad (Luke Kirby, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel), had no idea that Julien and Zoya had met. He hates Zoya’s Dad (Johnathan Fernandez, Lethal Weapon) for stealing his wife away from him, so when the two men see each other at a party, we anticipated an explosion of anger and confrontation. Instead, viewers were met with a diffused and short angry exchange of words that was nothing worth writing home about.
Meanwhile, the main subplot follows Max Wolfe (Thomas Doherty, High Fidelity) a pansexual character that is without-a-doubt an homage to the original GG’s Chuck Bass. Full of himself, dangerously charismatic, and on an unceasing sexual hunt. In this episode, Wolfe has a forbidden love interest: his teacher. But that’s not the only person who seems to be caught in Max’s magnetic orbit. Audrey (Emily Alan Lind) and Aki (Evan Mock), the quintessential high school couple of the in-crowd, are both having conflicting sexual desires for Wolfe. Smells like trouble in paradise.
Overall, the episode may have been lackluster in action, but it left the story on a blank horizon that has a lot of opportunity to grow the characters and build upon the relationship between Zoya and Julien.
Rating: 6.5 out of 10
Episode two of the Gossip Girl reboot is now streaming on HBO Max.