Eight years after turning in their blazers and striped ties, Gossip Girl co-stars Penn Badgley and Chace Crawford virtually reunited for a Variety interview to discuss their latest TV shows—Netflix's You and Amazon's The Boys. Naturally, conversation turned to their six seasons spent playing Dan Humphrey and Nate Archibald, respectively, on the hit CW series.
"Back in ’07, Gossip Girl was edgy," Crawford remembered, confessing that he hadn't rewatched old episodes in awhile. Badgley said he'd last watched some of the show with his then-girlfriend (now wife) Domino Kirke when they started dating. It was "very hard to watch," he admitted, adding, "These snapshots of yourself when you’re 20, 21, 22 years old. Who can enjoy that? Sometimes it’s just uncomfortable." However, the former co-stars vowed to watch an episode of Gossip Girl together in the near future. "We’re doing that when you come to L.A. We’ll have a drink," Crawford said. "Dude, if we live-tweet a viewing of any episode of Gossip Girl, people would love that," Badgley agreed, acknowledging fans' prayers everywhere.
The actors also reflected on their hesitancy to play "despicable white male privileged guys" in their new TV shows after exploring that world in Gossip Girl. "What’s interesting about Joe [Badgley's character in You]—it is almost like an odd continuation of Dan," Crawford observed. "At the end of Gossip Girl the show, whatever your reaction is on whether it was smart to do that or not, that he’s Gossip Girl—it didn’t really line up with the character of Dan."
Badgley agreed it didn't totally make sense for Dan to be revealed as the titular blogger, adding, "I think it’s emblematic of our time, because back in 2007…People wanted to watch a show like Gossip Girl because it was aspirational. It was like an escape. It seemed like it struck a certain cultural chord because it was this aspirational fantastical vision of excess and wealth. But now, cut to 13 years later, people are not interested in that. And I think rightfully so." Badgley continued, "Now they’re interested in deconstructing why we’re so fascinated with that in the first place. We’re interested in deconstructing those systems of privilege."
The pair even reminisced about the emergence of iPhones and Twitter back in the early aughts. "You had the first iPhone, and think about that now," Crawford recalled. "I remember we were more about camera phones and this and that. There wasn’t social media." Badgley revealed then-girlfriend Blake Lively got him his first smartphone: "I literally was like, 'I don’t want this thing. It’s so cumbersome, and it has all these apps on it.'" Badgley's first impression of Twitter? "I was like, 'What is this nonsense? I don’t want to have a Twitter account, and you tweet. What is this bird thing?'" Badgley remembered.
One topic the co-stars didn't dwell on was the upcoming Gossip Girl reboot on HBO Max, the filming of which is delayed due to COVID-19. Badgley has nothing but well wishes for the new cast. "Dude, I’m so interested to see what it’s like," he said. "I wish them well. I really am also interested to see how people react to it."