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 Woman Episode 6, the ultimate installment in Half 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 notice, what’s occurring with our two favourite love triangles, and what his learn is on Rafa and Max’s very scandalous and really unlawful relationship. For sure, we’re now extra ready than ever for Half 2. Spoilers forward for Gossip Woman Episode 6. 

Decider: This reboot appears like outdated Gossip Woman, simply utterly wild in a extremely enjoyable manner. 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 not likely a lot that may be completed 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.

Although, the one factor that I learn someplace — I at all times learn one remark, and also you’re like, “Oh, I’m gonna keep offline” — and the one remark that I learn was that the story is resolved an excessive amount of on the finish of episodes. It’s simply so humorous to me. The unique, within the first season, we didn’t will we didn’t do cliffhangers each episode. We did give characters stuff to try this was going to proceed and preserve going. However the women made up in Episode 4 of Season 1. So the women (within the reboot) make up in Episode 4 like that. The one type of continued drama was Blair [Leighton Meester] not liking Jenny [Taylor Momsen] and consistently attempting to maintain Jenny down. And we’ve got 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, folks favored Season 1 and a couple of. Then they thought Season 3 via 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 manner of storytelling, some folks need extra of that off-the-rails model of Gossip Woman.

In my thoughts, as soon as we get to Seasons 3 via 6, there’s at all times a manner to try this. However 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. In order that in a while when greater issues occur to them, you perceive who they’re once 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, folks had been like, “We hate this.” So you recognize, that’s positively not a spot I wish to be in. So as an alternative, I seemed to the unique present and the way a lot you actually obtained to know these folks and the way a lot you actually obtained to stay within the ache of actual issues that occurred. Blair dropping her virginity or realizing her greatest buddy slept along with her boyfriend. These are actual issues. In order that labored out. That’s the one actual criticism that I learn briefly, after which I used to be like, “What? Return and watch the unique.”

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

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

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

On this one, we had all new characters, all new dynamics. Additionally, I needed to present the way it references the unique so that you just understood it was the identical world. You couldn’t simply drop in and have 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 may 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. If 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 a few of the issues from the pilot, simply in case you didn’t watch Episode 1, or simply in case you didn’t concentrate. However then you definitely get to a few and also you’re like, “OK, cool. The highway’s open.”

Watching this present proper after the unique Gossip Woman, a lot of the characters on this new one really feel a bit of, for lack of a greater phrase, nicer. I feel an enormous a part of that’s as a result of Julien retains Monet and Luna at bay lots of the time. Is it tougher to put in writing 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, except 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 probably the most evil of all — however on the time, he was excellent. Nate [Chace Crawford] was additionally excellent and made one mistake however was actually attempting exhausting to not pay for it. Jenny began with very noble intentions.

I don’t truly assume these characters are in truth nicer. I feel, in some methods, they’re a bit of bit worse as a result of they put on their goodness on their sleeves. Whereas the primary time round, the characters had been simply actually attempting to be good and had been misplaced. Perhaps that’s the true distinction is that Gen Z will not be misplaced the way in which that the unique characters had been misplaced. They’ve extra of an consciousness of their environment and who they’re on the earth and who their households are. Each technology will get the Gossip Woman that’s proper for its world, and it will have been improper 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'
Picture: HBO Max

That makes lots of sense. Talking to the entire “each technology will get the Gossip Girl that it wants or deserves,” you’ve stated up to now that the trainer/pupil relationship that seems in lots of YA dramas is morally improper. How do you assume the Rafa [Jason Gotay] / Max [Thomas Doherty] relationship inverts that dynamic, particularly by the tip of Episode 6 once they’re type 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. However Rafa doesn’t assume he’s completed something improper, and he clearly has. With Max, Max has to develop up and undergo one thing. For some purpose, for Max, it appears OK that it’s simply him. However then when he hears it’s others as properly, it’s abruptly an issue, which is a younger factor to assume. Why did he assume it was OK if it was simply him? However everyone has their eyes opened at a sure level. That opens Max’s eyes, after which he realizes that what Rafa is doing is improper. Now it’s only a query of will Rafa notice that or not, and what’s going to he do? That’s one thing you’ll see. However yeah, I really feel just like the story tells itself. It’s positively a good distance from the Rachel Carr [Laura Breckenridge] story from the primary present.

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

Their storyline continues to be sophisticated and related, and also you’ll get to see what precisely transpired after that. Within the very subsequent episode, we’ll get to see when it’s occurring by way of if there’s any fallout from that have or not, or if that have even involves fruition. So keep tuned on that one. However sure, their storyline is related now and possibly without end.

Talking of one other couple, Julien [Jordan Alexander] and Obie [Eli Brown] kiss, which is an enormous, explosive second within the ultimate episode of Half 1. Are you able to stroll me via the feelings surrounding that kiss?

The viewers can also be in all probability conscious of this now, however Julien and Obie had a longstanding relationship, however they each type of overlooked one another. Obie didn’t like who he perceived Julian to turn into, and Julien perhaps took him with no consideration a bit of bit. So when this particular person reveals up who reminds Obie, perhaps a bit of little bit of a model of Julien that he needs, 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 Woman with out triangles, so yeah. You’re gonna see and study much more about that within the subsequent episode.

All through 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 serious arc. However these episodes aren’t utterly centered round these points. They’re simply issues occurring within the background of those children lives. How do you discover that steadiness?

We checked out all the problems that individuals are coping with, the issues which might be in our world at this time. It was only a manner through which to feather them into the episodes. If you look again on the unique, they’re coping with actual stuff too. At the moment, Ponzi schemes and stuff that was affecting the wealthy world of the characters’ again then is within the present. And pupil/trainer relationships, clearly, again then there’s a few them on the primary present.

That simply blew me away, the checklist of issues that we felt the present would contact upon. We wished to be correct sooner or later. It will be improper to not discuss protests and social rebellion inside this world, as a result of with Gossip Woman, we attempt to make the world actual. It’s fantasy, however 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 had been in the actual world. It’s simply that it’s a heightened model of the actual world.

Kate in'Gossip Girl'
Picture: HBO Max

I utterly forgot concerning the Ponzi storyline within the unique Gossip Woman. However 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 based mostly in truth. We at all times checked out present occasions within the type of Legislation & Order manner and located a approach to put them into the present.

You’ve stated up to now that you just wished to make use of this reboot to discover what goes into being Gossip Woman. What have you ever realized via Kate [Tavi Gevinson] about what it takes to be Gossip Woman?

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 not likely telling a narrative about how absolute energy corrupts completely, although that’s positively very true. However that’s not truly what that is. That 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 consistently battling this, these items popping up that she wasn’t conscious can be points. She thought it will simply be so clear and simple. And she or he’s but to completely reckon along with her personal realization that perhaps this isn’t good or proper. It’s like you need to do dangerous to do good; typically I feel it’s type of what Kate would imagine. However perhaps the objective of life is definitely, “Hey, how about you simply don’t do dangerous?”

Watch Gossip Girl (2021) on HBO Max | Joshua Safran Interview on Half 1’s Finale


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