(Warning: This post contains spoilers for the series premiere of HBO Max’s “Gossip Girl” reboot.)
The “Gossip Girl” reboot launched Thursday on HBO Max, bringing viewers back into the world of Manhattan’s young elite and reviving the titular narrator herself. The all-knowing high-society blogger (voiced once again by Kristen Bell) would have stayed in hibernation if it weren’t for Rebecca, a teacher at Constance/St. Jude’s who leads her colleagues to the old Gossip Girl site, which hasn’t had a new post published in nine years, since its original creator, Dan Humphrey (Penn Badgley), retired.
But, uh, who is this Rebecca character (played by Sarah Baskin) and why don’t we remember her from The CW’s “Gossip Girl,” if she is, as she claims to be, an alum of Constance/St. Jude’s Class of ’09, the same year that Blair Waldorf (Leighton Meester), Serena van der Woodsen (Blake Lively), Chuck Bass (Ed Westwick), Nate Archibald (Chace Crawford) and Dan graduated from the high school?
“When I was a student, we lived under constant threat. People like Nate [Archibald] were scared straight,” Rebecca tells Kate (Tavi Gevinson) and the other teachers around six minutes into the “Gossip Girl” reboot’s premiere.
“It was this thing that started freshman year, called itself Gossip Girl,” she explains. “Kind of like an Orwellian Big Sister that kept tabs on the students it deemed important. If she knew your secrets, and she always did, she told them. She kept us all accountable. People thought it was me, but it was actually one of my classmates, Dan Humphrey.”
The teachers are intrigued when they learn Dan, now a successful novelist, was the man behind this infamous girl.
“It was ridiculous. I wouldn’t even read it,” Rebecca says as she walks away from the teachers’ lounge, but not before she’s pulled up the original Gossip Girl blog for her coworkers to explore. Of course, they jump up to investigate and ultimately decide to become the new Gossip Girl as a group so they can try to put their students in their place.
OK, again, who is this person and why don’t we recognize her? For that answer, TheWrap turned to “Gossip Girl” reboot creator Joshua Safran, who was a writer and executive producer on the original series, created by Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage.
“It’s such a very deep Easter egg, I assumed that nobody would know,” Safran said. “Unfortunately, her full name would make you know her if you Googled it. But I couldn’t get her full name in. I tried and I just couldn’t [get the characters to] say, ‘Rebecca Sherman, you went to school here?’ But Rebecca Sherman is the name of the character at the end of Season 2 that they briefly think could be Gossip Girl before they think that it is Eric’s boyfriend.”
The episode in question is the 25th episode of Season 2 of “Gossip Girl,” the finale titled “The Goodbye Gossip Girl,” which features the teens graduating from high school and trying to figure out who Gossip Girl is before they move on to college. (See Blair in the episode in the photo above.)
“So, if you go back and watch that episode, they think it’s Rebecca Sherman,” the showrunner said. “And Blair is like, ‘No, her head’s always in a book. She doesn’t have time to be posting all the time.’ So it was my way of doing that.”
A very deep cut indeed, especially because Rebecca is a character that is only referenced and never seen on screen (so that’s why you don’t recognize her!) but Safran is confident that if he was able to get her full name in, this reference would be easier to decipher.
“But if they had said Rebecca Sherman, people could have Googled it and figured it out.”
Check back with TheWrap for more “Gossip Girl” premiere coverage.
New episodes of “Gossip Girl” launch Thursdays on HBO Max.