Let it be known that HBO Max's Gossip Girl is a continuation, not a reboot!
As actress Emily Alyn Lind told E! News at the New York City premiere, the series is merely picking up nearly 10 years after Dan Humphries (Penn Badgley) revealed himself as Gossip Girl. "No one is trying to recreate [the OG characters]. We're new characters," she explained. "There might be sparks of them inside of all of us just because of the same school... but it's different and I want everyone to know that. We're not trying to do the original."
And, as Emily acknowledged, there's a lot of pressure to live up to the standards set by those Upper East Siders who came before them.
Showrunner Joshua Safran said that as the writers began mapping out Gossip Girl's latest iteration, they were keenly aware that it's the new cast's time to shine, and Leighton Meester and Blake Lively would've otherwise stolen the spotlight. It's the reason why the first season will only reference Serena, Blair, Chuck, Dan, Nate and the rest of the crew.
As he put it, these first episodes are all about getting "to know the characters," without any distractions whatsoever.
Moreover, Josh knows what the people want, and the people want more than just a brief glimpse at the lives of Serena and Blair. Josh put it best, saying, "No one would like it if Blake or Leighton came back and only had like two scenes. If they come back, you want to actually spend a lot of time with them."
That being said, there are more than a few mentions of the Constance Billard and St. Jude alumni throughout the show.
Here, we have a running list of the shoutouts to Dan, Blair, Serena and anyone else who had the misfortune of crossing Gossip Girl's path:
1. True Gossip Girl fans will recognize that the opening scene on the subway is a callback to the very first time viewers meet Serena. Like Serena, Kate Miller (Tavi Gevinson) stares out the train window as she travels to the Upper East Side. Not to mention they both wear beige jackets, striped shirts and a neck-tie.
2. As the teachers reminisce about better days, Kate laments, "This school produced great people: Caroline Kennedy, Colson Whitehead, Nate Archibald!" But as a Constance Billard Class of 2009 alumni reminds her, "It's not like Nate Archibald was such a saint when we started."
3. Serena and Blair are a constant presence in the show, as their rivalry is the inspiration for Julien Calloway (Jordan Alexander) and Zoya Lott's (Whitney Peak) sisterly feud.
4. Julien offers her 14-year-old sister some guidance on navigating high school and shares that St. Jude's School For Boys and Constance Billard School For Girls are now one school. So, while Serena and Blair were separated from Dan and Chuck, the new students are left to mingle and mix at their leisure.
5. Gossip Girl's sign off remains the same, with Kristen Bell closing out the episode, "You know you love me, xoxo Gossip Girl."
New episodes of Gossip Girl come out every Thursday on HBO Max.