HBO Max’s Gossip Girl, a reboot of the classic mid-2000s teen drama, has already made bright stars of its cast and is enjoying strong support among fans after a celebrated first season. Now T’V’s favorite all-knowing, riddle-loving narrator (the talented Kristen Bell) returns for the second season, along with much of the cast.
In order to celebrate the premiere, Human By Orientation (HBO’s own LGBTQIA+ organization), and NYC’s legendary NewFest (the city’s preeminent queer film festival for over 35 years) traded the Upper East Side for Brooklyn to host a show-stopping advance screening at the Nighthawk Cinema in South Slope. Guests were treated to a pre-show drink and popcorn before having a chance to enjoy the first episode of the second season.
Throwing audiences directly into the magic and chaos of Gossip Girl’s world, the first episode is a brash and fast-moving dive into the rarified (and often, very white) world of debutante balls. Even without having seen the first season, character building is strong and addicting- you want to know everyone. While watching the first season can help enjoy the story more its not a requirement in order to enjoy the episode.
Just one episode will have you indulging in modern slang, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it jokes, and satisfying references to NYC life that are the definition of if you know, you know. It’s always nice to see your city celebrated on the big screen and NYC has always been a bit of a plot point for Gossip Girl, given some of its unique cultural norms and tendencies.
Particularly refreshing is how candid the show is about queer life, where all kinds of relationships are normalized in a healthy way rather than fetishized as rare phenomenons. For example, the topic of a three-way relationship is interesting not because of the arrangement itself, but because viewers are let in on the emotional struggle of the participants. It’s refreshing and serious, but playful and real: a complicated relationship handled with the humor and care.
A post-screening Q&A, moderated by Them editor Michael Cuby, featured Gossip Girl director Joshua Safran and cast members including Emily Alyn Lind, Evan Mock, Savannah Lee Smith, and Grace Duah (who nearly steals the entire first episode with her chameleon-like presence of comforting chaos). The Q&A revealed some clues about the next season, especially around how viewers will learn more about the families of many of the characters. We’re also introduced to a returning teacher who seems to be as meddling as Gossip Girl themself.
After the screening, guests and stars alike descended upon the cinema’s bar for a roaring afterparty featuring custom cocktails, a photo backdrop, passed snacks, and an absolutely blowout DJ set by Kenni Javon.
Gossip Girl Season 2 is now streaming on HBO Max, with new episodes weekly. Stream it here.