Photo credit: Karolina Wojtasik / HBO Max
With a refreshing change of direction – provided by Twin peaks heiress Jennifer Lynch – tighter script (by Lila Feinberg), more lively score and fucking lightness, we finally have an episode that contains some of the original Gossip GirlDNA (especially in the character of Julian, who is starting to feel like a lively and breathing youngster with a touch of the characteristic Blair Waldorf neurosis and not just a bland mock of a ‘cool girl’ of the generation. Z). “Lies Wide Shut” almost feels like it takes place in a separate universe from the first two episodes: it still moves forward at a violent pace, but the tone is definitely more comedic, which makes all of this shenanigans easier to digest. . Teenage characters show off personality and don’t just scroll through their phones reacting to notifications. Our usually insane teachers finally show a little wit when forced into crisis mode (even if they end up digging a bigger hole for themselves). Thomas Doherty even backed down on Chuck Bass’s impersonation, which really went off the rails in the previous episode. And honestly, what a game changer.
Let’s start with an overview of Keller & Co. I’m starting to think that these characters deserve their own separate recap, perhaps a newsletter, because their behavior and its potential consequences require so much analysis. But keep it short: Teachers are essentially put on a witch hunt after admins find out about Gossip Girl. The group ends up sacrificing Reema by giving her a tip to send to Gossip Girl (while they’re all under surveillance) who could eventually help her husband get rehired into a teaching job from which he was unfairly dismissed. This is just a temporary fix for the rest of the teachers’ issues as long as they keep running Gossip Girl, and I’m not sure why the school can’t just contact Instagram or the police to have the account shut down. Additionally, one says Gossip Girl will be “untraceable” now that they are receiving tips from other schools and the account has been expanded citywide. Will it be, however?
Now let’s move on to our teens. Julien has accepted defeat in Obie’s department and is now looking for a hot new heir to maintain her status as queen bee, like Mia Thermopolis in Princess Diaries 2. In this universe, characters need to be aware of the sexist nature of this requirement, so we get some staid ‘fuck the patriarchy’ comments and references to Brad Pitt from Luna and Monet before insisting that it’s something. that she has to do anyway. Max, being the most thoughtful of the group, suggests that Julien wake up his inner hot girl and spend a crazy evening with him to remind him who she is. Several people throughout this episode, including Julien, point out that she “lost her way”, and I don’t know what that means because we don’t know which path she was on before that didn’t include to be the best bitch in school. But I certainly love watching her have a coke-fueled identity crisis.
That night, she meets a friendly blonde woman in the bathroom who turns out to be a songwriter that her father has been secretly courting (and harboring) for a year. This deeply upsets Julien, the way your parents do not tell you all the details of their adult life upsets you deeply when you are a child. So she ends up inviting the woman to a Jeremy O. Harris play that she and her father attend at the end of the episode to confront them about it in person. More on that later!
Meanwhile, America’s second worst couple (ranked just above Jared and Ivanka) are experiencing their own identity crises. Zoya becomes the victim of a Twitter campaign run by Luna called #Zugly which features pictures of herself eating and looking “ugly.” In order to stop it, she agrees to be Pygmalion-ed by Luna, who is ready to leave the sinking ship Titanic it’s Julien. This story is a lot of fun because Luna simply applies eye shadow on Zoya and makes her wear heels. Writers don’t seem to understand that Gen Z’s Heat encompasses a range of aesthetic and fashion choices, from looking like a Kardashian to dressing like Elaine’s. Seinfeld. Oppressive bodily standards are obviously always a thing, but Zoya, who looks like an American Girl doll coming to life, certainly suits them (at least in this world, where fair-skinned black girls can reign supreme over their white peers. ). Does it really matter that she dresses like she’s shopping on the hipster side of H&M rather than, I don’t know, the business-casual side of H&M?
Obie continues to throw up basic talking points about the urban working class at every turn. In a scene where he’s having dinner with Zoya and his father, he gives her a glimpse of – you guessed it – gentrification! That kind of lesson from Barron Trump would have you kicked out of my African American home immediately, but his father ultimately finds it endearing. It’s Zoya who ends up telling him that he has to accept that he is and always will be a nepto-baby of capitalist supervillains. At the very least, Zoya is a good substitute for the audience.
Aki and Audrey’s very grown-up relationship issues are probably the funniest part of this whole episode. Not only do they mess with the same person and needlessly try to make their relationship work like an unhappy married couple sticking out for the kids, but they also try butt stuff. Meanwhile, Max finds out that one of his fathers is on a dating app, so he asks Aki to fish him using the identity of his teacher crush, Rafa. This secrecy, along with everyone’s individual problems, comes to a head in a fictional play by Jeremy O. Harris called Aaron. (What week for that cameo, Amirite?) Literally everyone on the show is here for some reason, including Professor Rafa, who Max invites in a mess. He ends up denouncing his adulterous father, who is no longer attracted to her husband because he has become more openly feminine. Julien also lets his father know that it’s not at all cool that he has a girlfriend she doesn’t know, before they end up reconciling in the sweetest way possible.
I would say 80 percent of this episode are just adorably naive, cranky, angry kids at their parents, which I found a lot more entertaining than watching Zoya and Julien get repeatedly scolded by their dads the last week. Next week, I hope Monet and Luna have a story and character development as they plan to wreak havoc between Zoya and Julien. The “Most Popular Girl’s Sidekick in School” is a common character that might need updating. It would be a shame if these vivid and stunning girls were just lazily deregistered as followers all season long.
• We finally see Monet kissing a girl after weeks of knowing her character is a “powerful lesbian,” according to Wikipedia. I know the kids on Twitter were waiting for this, so congratulations!
• Loved how the teacher-witch-hunt story in this episode ties in with Jill Sprecher’s Criterion release last week. Watchmakers, in which a group of office workers who find themselves at the center of an internal investigation begin to turn on each other.
• We need an oral history of how Carla Hall ended up on this show.