This week, the cancellation of Julien continues to make little sense or reflect how this situation would actually go down in real life. For one thing, the way this show portrays Julien’s fame is extremely confounding. As I wrote earlier in the season, it’s hard to distinguish Julien as a queen bee compared to the other students at Constance Billard because no one seems to really care that she exists besides Gossip Girl (except in this episode when it’s revealed she has stans???). Either way, everyone’s sudden obsession with this “scandal” — which is just a series of misunderstandings — seems very unusual.
Additionally, I think the writers are confusing rabid stan culture with the behaviors of normal-ass Gen-Zers who have, like, schoolwork, and promposals to worry about. There’s literally a scene in this episode in which an entire gymnasium of students boo Julien after Gossip Girl posts something about her old tweets. But she also manages to get enough people to show up to a party later on in the height of this scandal, so go figure!
All these narrative inconsistencies aside, I just think there’s a better, more accurate way to capture the level of social awareness (some but not all) kids have these days thanks to social media without writing them all off as mindless social-justice vigilantes. The portrayal of “cancel culture” feels very broad and cartoonish. Like, yes, people express outrage about this kind of shit online (and it’s typically short-lived). But I promise you not even the most self-righteous Twitter users are demanding that — I don’t know — Lily-Rose Depp be nailed to the Cross for speaking out against Amber Heard’s accusations against her dad or attacking Hailey Bieber for having an ardent Woody Allen defender for an uncle. But Julien somehow becomes a primary target of everyone’s ire and manages to lose all her brand deals (when did she get brand deals??) after the whole IG Live fiasco, sending Julien and her friends into full crisis mode once again.
This episode even recycles a plot point we saw earlier in the season in which Monet and Luna plan a party whose proceeds all go to charity to get the internet off her back. I’m sorry, but this girl is not Ariana Grande. I’m just not buying that all these PR measures are necessary for an influencer?? Julien could post an apology statement online that mentions her donations to Time’s Up or whatever women’s org like Timothée Chalamet did after working with Allen and wanting to win that Oscar. But these writers are making us suffer through another pointless party fiasco because no one can come up with anything compelling for these characters to do besides anxiously check their phones and concoct unnecessarily elaborate strategies to get out of whatever inconsequential problems they find themselves in every other day. And of course it all ends with Zoya and Julien fighting over bullshit.
I had a slightly better time watching Eleanor, Cyrus, and Dorota (and Dorota’s daughter) make their special cameos at a Hanukkah dinner that Audrey and her mom crash to get some grant money for her fashion line (because Eleanor is the head of the CFDA now). Did we know Catherine was a designer? I feel like every detail about these characters only gets mentioned once, and the last time we heard about her “company” was in episode two. Also aren’t they in financial straits? Wasn’t Audrey supposed to leave Constance Billard?? There’s no point in asking these questions.
Anyway, her mother makes this basic coral dress that Audrey thinks will be a best-seller. But she very stupidly loans it to Julien at truly the worst possible time. Eleanor ends up having a brief heart-to-heart with Catherine at the dinner and tells her she should heal from all the trauma she’s been through before relaunching a business. This monologue would come off very condescendingly if not for Margaret Colin’s utterly soothing voice, which makes everything sound like the most tender message you’ve ever received. Everything else that occurs at this pretty insignificant dinner just feels like a comedy break from the more serious plot with Julien and a chance to remind us this show once had interesting characters. There’s also more beefing between Max’s parents. [Rolls eyes.] Please just get divorced! We don’t care!
Back at Julien’s image-rehabilitation gala, there are a million and one things happening. Luna invites Julien’s 12-year-old stans to the party where they tell Julien they’re actually un-stanning her and proceed to throw a bunch of products she’s endorsed on the floor, including Chanel makeup. Julien invites Obie as her date because she can’t resist this uninteresting kid who has treated her like trash. He also tells her he loves her just to fuck with her some more. Zoya’s plan to lure people to the party by falsely claiming that Jeremy O. Harris— her new donor now that the Calloway scholarship is canceled — is in attendance fails, and the party gets shut down. She also gets reprimanded by Julien in front of everyone and has her scholarship taken away for using Harris’s name to advertise this useless PR party. Whew!
The entire Julien portion of this episode gave me plot-motion sickness. Not to mention that her dad abandons her by the end of the episode (Luke Kirby, you’re free!), and her next big move is to delete her Instagram? Okay???
Meanwhile, Keller goes on a date with Scott to gain access to the Gossip Girl account. Before she has to sleep with him — which I actually want for Keller so she can calm the fuck down — she and Jordan seize the opportunity to take back what Gossip Girl said about Julien being complicit in her dad’s actions by going into his phone and making a new post. When she notifies Scott, he tells her, “Gossip Girl is done.” I know it’s the show’s name, but as a viewer, I would love it if this were true. Let’s just throw out this premise and start all over again! It’s never too late!
Lastly, my precious Aki is given this weird, isolated story line in which he gets into this random back-and-forth with a basketball player from a rival school during a game, which turns into some mission to prove he’s a top? First of all, I’m really not buying Aki as a basketball player. Skateboarding, yes. Cross-country, yes. But shooting hoops, no. The writers of this show don’t understand it’s okay to leave supporting characters out of episodes if there’s nothing interesting for them to do. Of course, nothing that happens on this show is actually interesting, so I guess it’s hard to differentiate. Regardless, it feels like we’re watching 50 different people with 50 different story lines every episode. And even for an ensemble show, it’s a lot!
• I can’t tell whether Max actually likes his group of friends. He feels so isolated from what everyone else is doing. When was the last time he spoke to Obie? Or Julien? Now that he’s officially cut the cord on Audrey and Aki, I’m unsure where he fits in.
• Yes, someone actually said the words “This is not Emily in Paris.”
• We need to dive deep into Aki’s love of film beyond the show just bringing it up in passing. I think his next story line should be that he’s making a documentary.
• How dare this raggedy show try to throw shade at Riverdale, a series that people actually seem to enjoy!
• Zion Moreno’s performance as Luna continues to be pitch-perfect and manages to make the dialogue sound witty and not clunky. Give her more things to say, some backstory, some depth!