‘Gossip Girl’s Showrunner Spills on the Cameos and Secrets to Come

Home » ‘Gossip Girl’s Showrunner Spills on the Cameos and Secrets to Come

You know you missed her. It’s been two months since Gossip Girl left us in a haze of betrayals, influencer drama, and shocking Instagram posts. But this Thanksgiving, HBO Max‘s teen drama about mega-wealthy Upper East Siders  will finally return with three new episodes.

At the end of Gossip Girl Part 1, we broke down the biggest secrets and cliffhangers from Episode 6. Now series showrunner Joshua Safran is back to tease what’s ahead. Consider this your oh-so-scandalous scoop about what the next half of Gossip Girl has to offer. Major spoilers for Gossip Girl Episodes 1 through 6.

Decider: I want to first talk about Monet [Savannah Smith]. In Episode 5, we see her change alliances to be with Pippa [Ella Rubin] and Bianca [Katherine Reis]. How is that going to change her relationship with Julian [Jordan Alexander] and Luna [Zión Moreno] at school?

Joshua Safran: I don’t want to give too much away, obviously, but you haven’t seen the last of Monet. There’s more coming. That said, it doesn’t go exactly where you expect it would. I think that Monet and Luna have, up until now, really thought about Julian first. At a certain point, they do have to start thinking about themselves first. You’re going to see more in the second half of the season.

The way episodic television works is that you can’t have every actor every episode. Series regulars, you have to make tiered contracts. So Monet and Luna, you might not see in all the episodes. When you do see them, just know that you’ll be learning more about them as we go.

Speaking of, there is an insane amount of interest from fans about Luna and Monet possibly becoming a couple. Have you thought about that angle before?

No. I’m not of the belief that every character should hook up with every character. They were created to be friends. They were not created to be romantic interests for each other. I’m very grateful that the audience enjoys watching them together. And of course, everyone can ship any character pairing, or trio, that they want. But that just has never been the intention. Who’s to say where the story will go? But Season 1 is written, and that is not something that happens.

I also feel like I never love it when all of the characters turn incestuous. That actually is a long-standing problem with shows. Like, every character hooks up with every character. So, for me, that’s something I would never want to do. It’s like Max [Thomas Doherty] is never going to hook up with Julian, you know? Or Zoya [Whitney Peak]. That’s just not a story. Sorry, I should say under my watch, that wouldn’t happen. But somebody else could come in and decide to do that. I think that in real life we haven’t all slept with everybody that we know who are our friends. That would muddy a lot. So I have no plans for that in this season since the season is already written. As in the future, should they find themselves drawn to each other, who knows?

Emily Alyn Lind as Audrey and Evan Mock as Aki in 'Gossip Girl'
Photo: HBO Max

Speaking of relationships, right after Episode 1, fans started to ask who Max is going to choose: Audrey [Emily Alyn Lind] or Aki [Evan Mock]? Was the point of their love triangle that there was never really a choice? And are we moving in the direction of a possible throuple?

I don’t think there’s a choice. I didn’t read that fans are asking that, so that’s news to me. But this is a story about the freedom of being connected. This isn’t about Max putting himself between Audrey and Aki. That happened in Episode 2 a little bit, but that time is over. Now, it’s more of a question of what exactly do any of them want with each other.

There’s another cliffhanger I need to address. Toward the end of the Episode 6, Aki’s dad says that he shouldn’t see Julian anymore. Can you elaborate at all about what that means and is it business related?

I cannot tell you what it’s related to. I can tell you that what he says is to stay away from Julian. That is different than don’t talk to Julian. And I can tell you that that tidbit pretty much becomes the biggest thing that happens all season, and it reverberates through the entire second half of the season in a mature way.

It’s funny. People — I think maybe they caught on later, but maybe it took a little while — but every season of (the original) Gossip Girl there was an ultimate big bad that wasn’t Gossip Girl. Obviously, it was Georgina [Michelle Trachtenberg] at one point… There are ultimate big bads every year that they had to rally the troops and get everybody together to vanquish. And so that tidbit is the beginning of our big storyline.

That’s so exciting. I always love when they had to sometimes team up with Gossip Girl to bring the big bad down.

It is possible that that might be coming your way. But I don’t want to say.

Tavi Gevinson as Kate in 'Gossip Girl'
Photo: HBO Max

Speaking of Gossip Girl, now that the teacher group knows that Rafa [Jason Gotay] sleeps with his students, how is that going to change their dynamic? Because they have this huge piece of gossip that is really complicated on several different levels.

It definitely plays a very big part when we return. Also, it gets to be the question that the teachers are starting to ask themselves, which is, what if they don’t agree? And what if they don’t agree, what does that mean moving forward? I think there’s a little bit of a hint in there about what’s going to end up happening there. But up until now, they pretty much agreed, and when somebody didn’t agree they ousted them. But now it’s a larger circle. So what’s going to happen?

Are we going to see any more of Julian’s influencer arc? I thought that was really fascinating in Episode 6.

Yeah, I mean, she’s an influencer. You’re going to have to keep watching. But she’s still an influencer. And her arc about being an influencer is definitely very prevalent in the rest of the season, but it also at the same time maybe won’t be the same.

How does the existence of influencers change the show? So much of the original Gossip Girl was about how Serena [Blake Lively], Blair [Leighton Meester], and everyone else couldn’t control their image. But Julian has more control over her image.

I think that’s what makes this version of Gossip Girl, gives it a reason to exist rather than just a retread of the original. When the original came out, we weren’t thinking about our lives through social media. And when I say thinking — I know it’s not really faking — but if we have an impulse at one o’clock to say something happy that’s happening to us, and then we have an impulse at eight o’clock when we might be depressed to say something about our depression. But somebody else is clicking on both of those stories and sees them back to back. It’s not an accurate representation of where we’re at or who we are. That didn’t exist the first time around.

In the first one, [Gossip Girl] just had to poke a hole in how you were lying. But now she has to show how your online persona is a lie before she can even get to you being a lie, and what you’re lying about yourself, and getting into how you’re lying about yourself. So there’s an extra layer to deal with this version of Gossip Girl that we all have to deal with. You’re going to see that more in the second half. You’re going to see Gossip Girl has to go harder. I think the first half of the season, Gossip Girl has gone after the person, and in the second half of the season, Gossip Girl realizes that they have to go after the persona first.

Jordan Alexander as Julian and Whitney Peak as Zoya in 'Gossip Girl'
Photo: HBO Max

That’s really interesting. I know that you’ve said that we can’t really expect any more big cameos this season. Are there any smaller cameos or secrets coming up?

There definitely are in Episode 10. There are four returning cast members from the previous version of the show, and so that’s something to look forward to. I think that might be the only sort of big, big cameos. I mean, there’s obviously always mentions and things like that, but I think it’s Episode 10.

Moving forward, the hope would be to continue to pepper people in. But the reason why I didn’t bring anyone in from the original who’s sort of a bigger nature, in terms of like series regulars from the original, is because nobody would want to see Blair come in and only have two scenes. When you’re getting to know these characters, we have to serve these characters first. Anyone coming in is a part of their story. But if you saw Blair right now, you’d be like, “I want it all about Blair” and “Let me see Blair.” So in the future, my hope is we can bring in more series regulars and spend more time actually on them because you’ve gotten to know this cast. You can take some time off from one of their storylines to focus on a returning cast member from the original.

That’s so nice. My last question, and this is very selfish of me. But will Milo Sparks [Azhy Robertson] return? Because I just love him.

Me too. Milo is incredible, and Azhy Robertson, who plays Milo, is incredible. I knew that I wanted it to happen in the show. I could not wait to write it in. When I first even came up with a pitch, I knew that he was going to be the show.

He is not returning this season. I can’t say whether you’ll see him again, but I cannot imagine that you won’t, I think is the best way to put it. But I felt like the damage he did in this season is enough damage for him to do. There’s damage that other people do that’s on a similar level. And again, there’s a Milo-like thing coming up.

I wish we had 22. I don’t want to have 22 episodes because my head would explode. I cannot believe that we all did that for as long as we did. But if we had 22 episodes, I think there’d be a lot more. But the fact that initially the season was ordered to be 10 and then it was expanded to 12. By then, when it was 10, it was like a roller coaster going down a hill. Then, when it expanded to 12, we had a little bit of freedom to put a little bit more in, but the season had already been broken. There are these just pops, like Milo, like Nelly Yuki [Yin Chang], like all of the people that appear in Episode 10. Other than that, the story is really driven by our characters.

Everyone is just a blast this season. I feel like it really hits its stride by the end of Episode 6.

I really appreciate that. And again, just the fact that you meet all the parents and you’re getting to know them all, like Malcolm McDowell was such an amazing addition to the cast. You’ll see him more, and you’ll see Obie’s mom more. You’ll see Obie’s sister. We’re filling the families out as we go, which should tell you a lot more about them and their dynamics. So that’s been really fun to watch, to just really learn everybody, more and more.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. 

Three more episodes of Gossip Girl premiere on HBO Max Thursday, November 25. Those will be followed by Season 1’s final three episodes on December 2. 

Watch Gossip Girl (2021) on HBO Max




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