Hey, Upper East Siders, Gossip Girl is back and she’s meaner than ever.
Ahead of the season two premiere of HBO Max’s Gossip Girl reboot, creator Joshua Safran and stars Grace Duah, Savannah Lee Smith, Emily Alyn Lind, Evan Mock and Eli Brown stopped by NYC’s Prospect Park Nitehawk Cinema on Wednesday for an advance screening of the first episode and a Q&A.
During the conversation, the team opened up about what viewers can expect to see in season two, and Duah, who plays fan-favorite character Shan, didn’t hold back.
“This season is bigger, badder, but it’s mean,” she said. “I think that’s why you guys are in your seats, I think that’s why millions of people are in their seats at home. They want to see people be mean. And you’re gonna see that, and that’s why you’re going to tune in every Thursday until the end of January.”
Safran, for his part, is especially excited about the “really incredible” queer content that’s coming this season, considering he was one of only two queer writers on the original Gossip Girl and wanted to use the reboot to portray the LGBTQ world how it really is.
“There’s some really incredible — at least that my writers and myself feel — storylines, such as, I won’t say who, but a character is afraid of bottoming for the first time, which is something I feel like I haven’t seen before,” he said during the Q&A, prompting Mock, who plays Aki, to playfully get out of his seat and run off the stage.
Lind, who portrays Audrey, explained that her character goes on a path of self-discovery this season, as she finds herself in love with two people — Mock’s Aki and Thomas Doherty’s Max — the three of whom are officially a throuple in season two.
“I think that she feels that loving two people diminishes the fact that she loves one person, and in a sense, that’s really scary as well because she loves them equally,” Lind said. “So, in this season, I think that we get to see her sort of let go of that control that she’s always had, peel off the layers, trust her partners and become the person that she really is.”
For Smith, who plays Monet, her character’s path in Gossip Girl season two is a bit darker. After harboring feelings of jealousy and anger toward Jordan Alexander’s Julien Calloway in the first season, Monet declares war on the Queen Bee at the end of episode one.
“You could kind of see her plotting every episode [of season one], and maybe that decision was brewing in her,” Smith said. “Reading scripts, I could see that that’s where it was going, so I really wanted to get there. When I finally got the scripts for season two, I was like, ‘Oh yes, finally.’ I’m also on Twitter, and then is Twitter saying, ‘This is what we want.’ So, we give Twitter what they want.”
Later in the conversation, Safran opened up about one particularly “impactful” scene between Zión Moreno’s Luna and Doherty’s Max. Throughout season two’s first episode (spoiler alert), Max tries to force Audrey and Aki to announce their throuple to the world, but the latter two aren’t ready, so they put it off until Max gives them an ultimatum: they come out as a throuple or they break up.
Right after making them choose, Luna confronts Max and asks him to remember how things were for him before he came out.
“Luna says to Max, ‘Don’t you remember what it’s like before you come out and before you realize that once you come out, you can own your own power?’” Safran shared, explaining that that line wasn’t originally in the script. Safran, Moreno and Doherty came up with it when they realized something in the scene wasn’t working.
“I just feel like if it wasn’t for that, and I really credit Zion for that, that scene wouldn’t be as impactful as it is, because I’m speaking as a gay man, but the before and the after is so monumental, if you’re lucky,” the creator said. “I’m just really grateful again to all the queer actors on this show, who really add so much.”
He concluded by saying that that scene truly shows what the Gossip Girl reboot is all about. “It isn’t just about being salacious,” he said. “This truly is about looking at queer issues.”
The first two episodes of Gossip Girl are streaming on HBO Max now, with new ones premiering every Thursday.