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The Real Reason The Gossip Girl Reboot Was Canceled So Quickly

Sorry, Upper East Siders — there's not going to be any more episodes of the "Gossip Girl" reboot on Max, and it's because the show was incredibly expensive and not particularly good.

Just as the show's second season wrapped up on the streamer formerly known as HBO Max in January 2023, creator Joshua Safran — who also worked on the original series, which ran on the CW — released a statement to The Hollywood Reporter (which was also posted on social media) saying that the show was done, although he was hoping it might find another home. 

"So here's the goss: it is with the heaviest of hearts that I have to announce GOSSIP GIRL will not be continuing on HBO Max," Safran said at the time. "The EPs and I will forever be grateful to the network and studio for their faith and support; the writers for their devious brains and dexterous talent; the superstar cast for being the greatest of collaborators and friends; and the crew for their hard work, dedication and love for the project. This was honestly the greatest set I ever worked on, top to bottom.We are currently looking for another home, but in this climate, that might prove an uphill battle, and so if this is the end, at least we went out on the highest of highs. Thank you for watching, and I hope you'll tune into the finale next Thursday to see how it all comes together."

So why did the show get canceled before the Season 2 finale even aired? Again, we point to the fact that it was expensive to make and people didn't really like it very much.

The Gossip Girl reboot just fell completely flat — and cost Max a lot of money

Let's get this out of the way: the new take on "Gossip Girl" was, according to Joshua Safran himself, a really expensive venture — and it wasn't faring particularly well with critics or fans of the original, so it makes sense that Max pulled the plug. In a post-cancellation interview with Vanity Fair, Safran addressed how he was taking the news, telling the outlet, "Also, this show is incredibly expensive. 'It takes a lot of money to look this good.' And so it really would've had to have gotten 'House of the Dragon' numbers or 'Last of Us' numbers and there just aren't shows like 'Gossip Girl' that get those numbers. I mean, who even knows what anyone's numbers are? I just know that a show like 'Gossip Girl' isn't going to get 'House of the Dragon' or 'Last of Us' numbers."

The thing Safran seems to be ignoring — though it's understandable that he would — is the show just wasn't particularly well done, apparently enormous budget aside. Centering itself around a modern group of elite, uber-wealthy teens who end up terrorized by an online presence known only as "Gossip Girl," the new spin on the now-classic teen soap was kind of a rough watch. From queen bee Julien Calloway (Jordan Alexander) to new girl Zoya Lott (Whitney Peak) to bad boy and heir apparent to Chuck Bass (Ed Westwick), Max Wolfe (Thomas Doherty), the characters didn't have the spark of their predecessors, and the show seemed strangely concerned with its characters learning lessons (a task the original never, not once, burdened itself with). Also, it made a bizarre choice right as the show kicked off.

Max's version of Gossip Girl also made a really strange choice right out of the gate

The original "Gossip Girl" didn't reveal the titular gossiper's identity until the very end — and even though Dan Humphrey (Penn Badgley) was a seriously divisive choice, at least it wasn't a grown adult who was stalking a bunch of teenagers and posting their personal information online. The reboot, apparently, didn't see a problem with this wildly inappropriate concept, and right at the beginning of the show, audiences learned that Kate Keller (Tavi Gevinson), a teacher at Constance Billard — the high-end school attended by the teens in question — is the one who revived the long-dormant Gossip Girl account.

This is ... really gross. Kate is an adult, and she's also specifically an adult whose job it is to supervise all of these kids. Sure, the kids in question can be unreasonably nasty. They all drink like fully-fledged adults and have enough romantic trysts to put a normal thirty-something to shame. They have unlimited money, power, and access, and they can make life hell for anyone in their path. It still needs to be said that none of those things make it acceptable for Kate to cyber-stalk her own students and expose all of their salacious secrets to keep them in line in some sort of twisted way. Not just that, but placing the reveal right at the top of the show takes away a certain amount of fun from the proceedings — and it was a misstep from which the show never really recovered.

What made the original Gossip Girl so special?

So why did the new "Gossip Girl" fail while the original succeeded? The original was a campy, delicious, often completely unhinged mess — and it owned it. Right from the start, the characters were doing completely deranged things like drinking in various New York bars despite being sixteen, using Flo Rida songs to psychologically torture classmates so they'd perform poorly on their SATs, claiming they were guilty of murder, and outright buying burlesque clubs. From there, it only got wilder and wilder. At one point, Chuck Bass sells his girlfriend Blair Waldorf (Leighton Meester) for ownership of a hotel. As for Blair, she marries a "prince" of Monaco with an extremely unidentifiable accent at one point. Chuck stumbles upon a secret illicit club while searching for his birth mother, who turns out to not be his birth mother at all, and also, his father dies and then comes back to life. It's all absolutely out of control.

This is to say that the original "Gossip Girl" was totally over the top, but that's what made it so fun ... and the show never passed up an opportunity to steer into the most outlandish skid it could think of. The new one, though? It was so concerned with moral righteousness and making its characters "good people" that it completely missed the point. Nobody was watching "Gossip Girl" back in the day to watch good people do things — and unfortunately for the reboot, it didn't know that at all.

Both the original and the short-lived reboot are streaming on Max now.