XOXO, the reboot of Gossip Girl is out on HBO Max and set in a post-pandemic New York City. It’s been more than eight years since the original Gossip Girl stopped blogging about the juicy social life of the Constance Billard School for Girls and the St. Jude School for Boys on the Upper East Side. The teens of Gossip Girl in 2021 are more diverse, social media obsessed, and a bit more “woke.” But they’ve got an attitude problem and the crux of the series hinges on how the teachers of the school can gain some respect from these students who who don’t need affirmation from teachers because they get it all through their famous Instagram accounts.
Re-enter Gossip Girl. The teachers of Constance Billard decide to reactivate her, first taking to Twitter where they learn none of these kids care about that platform. They quickly switch to Instagram. Then, the teachers introduce some inside drama they know about: how Constance Billard newcomer and scholarship student Zoya Lott (played by Whitney Peak) may have been accepted through some inside connections through her half sister, Instagram star Julien Calloway (played by Jordan Alexander) who is also at the school. It’s a bit tenuous how Gossip Girl shenanigans can encourage better behavior by teenagers, but perhaps the writers have a rather utopian idea of social media. At the end of the day, the fundamental question that will make or break the series is whether a more socially conscious version of Gossip Girl, set amidst an even more shallow milieu of social media postings and brand name dropping, can work? You be the judge.
Many references to the original group of Gossip Girls are mentioned, including Blair Waldorf, Serena van der Woodsen, Chuck Bass, Nate Archibald, and Dan Humphrey. The nostalgia makes sense both for the storyline, and because the new Gossip Girl showrunner Joshua Saffran was a writer and executive producer on the original series. Gossip Girl 1.0 had been based on the bestselling novels by Cecily von Ziegesar, who had attended the elite private school Nightingale-Bamford on the Upper East Side and based Constance Billard off of her experience there.
Expect the Gossip Girl reboot to be full of fabulous filming locations, which we’ll be tracking of course. Here’s what you’ll see in the premiere episode of Gossip Girl and stay tuned for more!
1. Constance Billard School for Girls
The filming locations for the Constance Billard School for Girls goes back to the first two seasons of Gossip Girl, where it was filmed at The Museum of the City of New York. The grand neo-Georgian museum is located on Fifth Avenue on the block between 103rd and 104th streets. It was completed in 1930 and sits at the northern end of the city’s “Museum Mile” across from Central Park’s Conservatory Gardens.
The elevated front courtyard serves as the hangout spot for the Gossip Girl school kids, who gather there and on the stairs before school starts. The open space also gives the students the ability to mingle with the boys of St. Jude’s. The signage for the museum on the large standing tablets has been replaced by medallions for the film shoot. Some of the offices in the interior are used for the filming.
In later seasons of the original Gossip Girl series, the school filming location was switched to the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church located at 75 E. 93rd Street. The front courtyard there, with its recognizable split staircase, also served as the filming location in The Undoing as the Reardon School.
2. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Steps
Another famous filming location in the original Gossip Girl is the “Met steps,” the lunch spot for the cool kids of Constance Billard and St. Jude’s. It’s back in the reboot and forms a critical moment where Julien can start to bring Zoya into her crew of friends. It begins by an Instagram story of course and ends with an invite to a social gathering taking place that evening. The two sisters have a ruse going on — they’re pretending not to know each other.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is located at 1000 Fifth Avenue between 80th and 84th streets, making it an over 20 minute walk from The Museum of the City of New York, where the students’ schools are located. It’s a pretty far trek for lunch, but geographic accuracy is not usually the goal for film scouting. The locations are stunning and that’s what matters.
A few scenes take place in Dumbo, a neighborhood on the Brooklyn waterfront across from Lower Manhattan for those of you less familiar with New York City. First, the social gathering Zoya is invited to is happening at “Dumbo Club,” billed as the latest “it” private club. It’s clearly inspired by the real Dumbo House, the Brooklyn location of Soho House that’s located in Empire Stores. The interior is not filmed at Dumbo House (hence the name change) and appears to be a set.
We also see the real Empire Stores, a former coffee warehouse turned into multi-use commercial property that includes not only Dumbo House, but a food court, a museum outpost for Brooklyn History, and the corporate offices of West Elm. Zoya heads out of the party after a new Instagram post by Gossip Girl teases the potential admissions drama Zoya has inadvertently gotten herself into. Julien’s boyfriend, Ottie “Obie” Bergmann IV (played by Eli Brown) who hates the scene at Dumbo Club, walks Zoya out. Caught in the rain, they’re soaked and Obie offers her to dry off at his apartment, which is suggested to be just next to Empire Stores. The interior of Obie’s apartment also appears to be a set but looks heavily inspired by the architecture of Empire Stores, a filming location also used in Billions.
4. Park Avenue Armory
The event of the first episode is a fashion show at the Park Avenue Armory located at 643 Park Avenue between 66th and 67th streets. Julien is walking in the show and her friends are invited, along with Zoya. The plot thickens here, as Julien feels the need to create drama for the social media followers to follow. While originally meant to diffuse the attention given to the made-up rift between her and Zoya, a loss of Instagram followers encourages her to take more drastic action.
The Park Avenue Armory was built from 1877 to 1881 at a cost of $650,000 by the Seventh Regiment of the National Guard. This Regiment was made up of prominent Gilded Age family names that included Vanderbilt, Van Rensselaer, Roosevelt, Harriman, Livingston, and Morgan. Its roster included August Belmont Jr., the financier who helped build the city’s first subway line (and Belmont Track), and artists Thomas Nast and Sanford Robinson Gifford. Often referred to as the Silk Stocking regiment, this was the only privately funded armory – each room looking every bit as decadent as the near-by homes its members lived in.
Check out Gossip Girl on HBO Max. Stay tuned for more filming locations as the season continues!