- Gossip Girl -Dear Zoya & Obie, You Could Be A Little More Subtle
The CW's Gossip Girl kicks off with major love triangle drama, with Blair Waldorf discovering that her longtime, much-loved boyfriend Nate Archibald secretly slept with her BFF Serena van der Woodsen. It's a huge gut punch that turns Blair and Serena from complicated-but-close confidants to full-on rivals — and while they do return to their best friend status midway through the season, the betrayal is never totally forgotten. One balm to the whole Nate-sleeping-with-Serena thing, though, is that Serena prioritized her friendship with Blair over her feelings for Nate: It simply wasn't worth hurting Blair further.
Flash forward to 2021, and HBO Max's Gossip Girl revival features a similar love triangle. Zoya Lott is a freshman at Constance Billiard, where her influencer sister Julien Calloway reigns supreme as a junior. Zoya and Julien have been chatting on the internet for years before meeting, and are decidedly close (or, at least, as close as they can be through a screen) and the whole point of Zoya heading to Constance is so they can get to know one another better and become the "real sisters" their mother wanted them to be. Then, Zoya meets Julien's boyfriend Obie Bergmann — and within two episodes, Julien is dumped, and Zoya is Obie's new girlfriend.
This would all be ideal fodder to ruin the relationship between Zoya and Julien before it could even begin...except it doesn't. Never mind that Obie totally had his eyes locked on Zoya from the moment they met, thrilled to finally meet someone who cared about things like workers rights and funding education. (Is it mostly a hobby for Obie, considering he's protesting at his parents' real estate developments at their apparent approval? Why, yes, yes it is.) Instead, Julien is basically blamed for the whole breakup, having focused too much on her influencer career and not Obie's performative activism.
Excuse me, but... how unhinged is this???
Is Julien supposed to just...accept the fact that her sister, who she just connected with, is now dating her ex-boyfriend of several years? Are we all supposed to accept that it's acceptable for Obie to pursue a (checks notes) 14-year-old girl who happens to be his ex's only sibling and only biological connection to her dead mother?!?
Worse yet: Are we supposed to pretend that it's better, or even ideal, for Julien to be the chill girl about this whole situation, which, as a bonus, includes being forced to watch the two canoodle in the courtyard at school five days a week? I mean, I can't think of a worse time for your school to have a courtyard surrounded by glass.
I can't help but wonder if this is supposed to be an example of how the new, Gen Z version of Gossip Girl is trying to update itself for the new generation. While I understand that having Blair and Serena fight over a boy isn't exactly the most feminist thing on the planet, there's something I loathe about how Julien is so measured and calm about the whole Obie thing. It's almost like the show is afraid of having Julien lash out over this relationship drama for fear that it might show her priorities are out of order — or, rather, outdated. Who cares about a boyfriend when you're busy building a brand, right?
And sure: I don't think that Julien should be having the girls at Constance Billiard sharpen their pitchforks, even though Monae and Luna would be thrilled to make Zoya "sis-tory." But wouldn't it be, I don't know, human for Julien to be wounded over this situation, even if she didn't want Obie back? After all, the Blair and Serena thing was never about Nate: It was about a betrayal by someone you thought you could tell anything to. And what's more of a betrayal than Zoya dating her ex, five minutes after he dumped her?
Basically? Julien should be madder than she is about this whole Obie thing. And while Obie is probably more to blame here, there's no need to give Zoya a pass for her betrayal — even if Julien stops short of attacking her during a game of field hockey.
Images: HBO Max