Joshua Safran Interview on Part 1’s Finale

It wouldn’t be Gossip Girl if it didn’t finish in a bang — on this case, actually. This week marks the premiere of Gossip Girl Episode 6, the ultimate installment in Part 1 of HBO Max’s first season. And it’s a midseason finale that won’t disappoint followers.

Betrayal, protests, threesomes, it’s all there. And sequence developer and government producer Joshua Safran broke all of it down for Decider. Safran defined why this new reboot is extra much like the unique than it’s possible you’ll understand, what’s going on with our two favourite love triangles, and what his learn is on Rafa and Max’s very scandalous and really unlawful relationship. Needless to say, we’re now extra ready than ever for Part 2. Spoilers forward for Gossip Girl Episode 6. 

Decider: This reboot looks like outdated Gossip Girl, simply fully wild in a extremely enjoyable approach. What have you ever seen or realized from the suggestions from followers?

Joshua Safran: I’m attempting to not pay an excessive amount of consideration to that, as a result of the season is completed and there’s probably not a lot that may be achieved about it. We’re simply making the present that all of us are having fun with making. The hope is that the viewers enjoys it as we do.

Though, the one factor that I learn someplace — I at all times learn one remark, and also you’re like, “Oh, I’m gonna stay offline” — and the one remark that I learn was that the story is resolved an excessive amount of on the finish of episodes. It is simply so humorous to me. The authentic, within the first season, we didn’t can we didn’t do cliffhangers each episode. We did give characters stuff to do this was going to proceed and preserve going. But the ladies made up in Episode 4 of Season 1. So the ladies (within the reboot) make up in Episode 4 like that. The solely type of continued drama was Blair [Leighton Meester] not liking Jenny [Taylor Momsen] and always attempting to maintain Jenny down. And we now have that with Monet [Savannah Smith], Luna [Zión Moreno], and Zoya [Whitney Peak]. I learn that remark, and this humorous factor, which I’ve talked about earlier than with the opposite writers from this present and from the unique, is that when the unique aired, individuals appreciated Season 1 and a pair of. Then they thought Season 3 by means of no matter went off-the-rails quote, unquote, as a result of it obtained so twisty. It’s humorous that now the world is caught up extra with that approach of storytelling, some individuals need extra of that off-the-rails model of Gossip Girl.

In my thoughts, as soon as we get to Seasons 3 by means of 6, there’s at all times a approach to do this. But I’m structuring this extra just like the books, like the unique sequence, the place you actually get to know these characters. They really feel very grounded. You actually fall in love with them. So that later on when greater issues occur to them, you perceive who they’re after they occur, versus simply earlier than you get to know them, you recognize, spinning them round in circles on a regular basis… By the way in which, the primary time round, individuals have been like, “We hate this.” So you recognize, that’s undoubtedly not a spot I wish to be in. So as a substitute, I appeared to the unique present and the way a lot you actually obtained to know these individuals and the way a lot you actually obtained to stay within the ache of actual issues that occurred. Blair shedding her virginity or realizing her greatest good friend slept together with her boyfriend. These are actual issues. So that labored out. That’s the one actual criticism that I learn briefly, after which I used to be like, “What? Go back and watch the original.”

Obie, Zoya, and Julien in 'Gossip Girl'
Photo: HBO Max

Watching the reboot, I form of felt a shift from Episodes 3 to 4 the place the characters really feel a bit sharper, and the world feels a bit crisper. Was there a change within the writers room or am I simply making issues up?

I’d hate to say that you simply’re simply making issues up, however there was no change. Honestly, it merely is that you’ve to take action a lot setup in a pilot that you simply simply can’t get to that lighter, sooner approach of telling tales. People neglect that the unique was primarily based on characters from books, and other people did know the books. Not everyone who watched the pilot initially learn the books, however these have been characters that have been on this planet a bit bit and other people have been speaking about them in relation to the how they’d been portrayed within the books when the present first got here out.

In this one, we had all new characters, all new dynamics. Also, I needed to present the way it references the unique so that you simply understood it was the identical world. You couldn’t simply drop in and have a very good time with everyone. Plus, COVID occurred. So it was after COVID, there was simply a lot setup. I feel when you get to Episode 3, the setup’s over and you’ll simply stay with them. That’s all that basically occurred to me. Most individuals say it takes, what? Three or 4 episodes of a present to essentially get like — that’s the place they take a look at who’s nonetheless watching. When you take a look at binge (watching) and stuff, it’s who makes it previous Episode 3. It’s as a result of it takes three episodes. Episode 1 is the pilot. Episode 2 has to reset among the issues from the pilot, simply in case you didn’t watch Episode 1, or simply in case you didn’t listen. But then you definately get to a few and also you’re like, “OK, cool. The road’s open.”

Watching this present proper after the unique Gossip Girl, a lot of the characters on this new one really feel a bit, for lack of a greater phrase, nicer. I feel a giant a part of that’s as a result of Julien retains Monet and Luna at bay numerous the time. Is it tougher to jot down a drama-centric present the place the plots resolve and everybody’s attempting typically to be good?

I feel the primary time round everybody was fairly good, apart from Chuck [Ed Westwick]. Serena [Blake Lively] actually was attempting to be good. She got here again very a lot attempting to be good. And Dan [Penn Badgley] — clearly, we all know he was essentially the most evil of all — however on the time, he was superb. Nate [Chace Crawford] was additionally superb and made one mistake however was actually attempting arduous to not pay for it. Jenny began with very noble intentions.

I don’t truly assume these characters are in actual fact nicer. I feel, in some methods, they’re a bit bit worse as a result of they put on their goodness on their sleeves. Whereas the primary time round, the characters have been simply actually attempting to be good and have been misplaced. Maybe that’s the true distinction is that Gen Z is just not misplaced the way in which that the unique characters have been misplaced. They have extra of an consciousness of their environment and who they’re on this planet and who their households are. Every technology will get the Gossip Girl that’s proper for its world, and it might have been unsuitable to not have them be so self-aware. That doesn’t imply that they’re proper, however that’s simply that’s how they’re beginning out.

Max and Rafa in 'Gossip Girl'
Photo: HBO Max

That makes numerous sense. Speaking to the entire “every generation gets the Gossip Girl that it needs or deserves,” you’ve stated prior to now that the instructor/scholar relationship that seems in numerous YA dramas is morally unsuitable. How do you assume the Rafa [Jason Gotay] / Max [Thomas Doherty] relationship inverts that dynamic, particularly by the top of Episode 6 after they’re form of rivals?

I don’t wish to say an excessive amount of about it, as a result of I feel it’s fairly clear within the story. But Rafa doesn’t assume he’s achieved something unsuitable, and he clearly has. With Max, Max has to develop up and undergo one thing. For some cause, for Max, it appears OK that it’s simply him. But then when he hears it’s others as properly, it’s immediately an issue, which is a younger factor to assume. Why did he assume it was OK if it was simply him? But everyone has their eyes opened at a sure level. That opens Max’s eyes, after which he realizes that what Rafa is doing is unsuitable. Now it’s only a query of will Rafa understand that or not, and what’s going to he do? That’s one thing you’ll see. But yeah, I really feel just like the story tells itself. It’s undoubtedly a good distance from the Rachel Carr [Laura Breckenridge] story from the primary present.

To shift gears a bit bit, I wished to speak in regards to the threesome. When Episode 6 ended, it felt prefer it was excellent for Aki, Audrey and Max to be collectively. Was that at all times in thoughts?

Their storyline continues to be difficult and related, and also you’ll get to see what precisely transpired after that. In the very subsequent episode, we’ll get to see when it’s occurring when it comes to if there’s any fallout from that have or not, or if that have even involves fruition. So keep tuned on that one. But sure, their storyline is related now and doubtless ceaselessly.

Speaking of one other couple, Julien [Jordan Alexander] and Obie [Eli Brown] kiss, which is a giant, explosive second within the closing episode of Part 1. Can you stroll me by means of the feelings surrounding that kiss?

The viewers can be in all probability conscious of this now, however Julien and Obie had a longstanding relationship, however they each type of overpassed one another. Obie didn’t like who he perceived Julian to change into, and Julien perhaps took him without any consideration a bit bit. So when this particular person exhibits up who reminds Obie, perhaps a bit little bit of a model of Julien that he desires, the query now turns into is that connection actual? Or was that connection a little bit of smoke and mirrors hiding the truth that he’s nonetheless related to Julien? It wouldn’t be Gossip Girl with out triangles, so yeah. You’re gonna see and study much more about that within the subsequent episode.

Throughout the season there have been nods to present occasions. There’s an episode that has gun violence, and Episode 6 has protesting as a part of a significant arc. But these episodes aren’t fully centered round these points. They’re simply issues occurring within the background of those children lives. How do you discover that stability?

We checked out all the problems that persons are coping with, the issues which might be in our world right this moment. It was only a approach through which to feather them into the episodes. When you look again on the authentic, they’re coping with actual stuff too. At that point, Ponzi schemes and stuff that was affecting the wealthy world of the characters’ again then is within the present. And scholar/instructor relationships, clearly, again then there’s a few them on the primary present.

That simply blew me away, the listing of issues that we felt the present would contact upon. We wished to be correct sooner or later. It could be unsuitable to not discuss protests and social rebellion inside this world, as a result of with Gossip Girl, we attempt to make the world actual. It’s fantasy, nevertheless it’s a fantasy in inside an actual assemble. Like Serena and Blair went to Bergdorf and Bendel’s, and so they wished to go to the Met Gala. They have been in the actual world. It’s simply that it’s a heightened model of the actual world.

Kate in 'Gossip Girl'
Photo: HBO Max

I fully forgot in regards to the Ponzi storyline within the authentic Gossip Girl. But yeah, that was all proper there.

There’s truly a bunch of actual plot traces. There’s Nate’s dad, who’s a part of an embezzlement scheme, Poppy Lifton [Tamara Feldman] and Armie Hammer’s characters who run the Ponzi scheme. There was at all times stuff primarily based in actual fact. We at all times checked out present occasions within the type of Law & Order approach and located a strategy to put them into the present.

You’ve stated prior to now that you simply wished to make use of this reboot to discover what goes into being Gossip Girl. What have you ever realized by means of Kate [Tavi Gevinson] about what it takes to be Gossip Girl?

She’s actually taking part in God, she and the opposite lecturers. And while you play God, nobody can play God, and it corrupts you. We’re probably not telling a narrative about how absolute energy corrupts completely, although that’s undoubtedly very true. But that’s not truly what that is. This is the story of an individual who believes they know what’s proper. Then they function from a spot of what’s proper, with out ever absolutely acknowledging that nobody is aware of what’s proper… She’s always scuffling with this, this stuff popping up that she wasn’t conscious could be points. She thought it might simply be so clear and straightforward. And she’s but to completely reckon together with her personal realization that perhaps this isn’t good or proper. It’s like you need to do unhealthy to do good; typically I feel it’s form of what Kate would imagine. But perhaps the purpose of life is definitely, “Hey, how about you just don’t do bad?”

Watch Gossip Girl (2021) on HBO Max

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