In a callback to the original series, the show opens with a shot of a train in New York City.
On the continuation series, a teacher at Constance Billard named Kate Keller (played by former-blogger-turned-actress Tavi Gevinson) is seen on a train passing through Brooklyn.
On the original show, the premiere opened with Serena van der Woodsen (Blake Lively) on a train arriving at Grand Central Station.
A shot of Kate looking through the window during her commute is reminiscent of Serena doing the same thing in the original pilot.
The context for the two moments differs, though. Kate is en route to Constance Billard for the first day of the new school year.
On the original show, Serena made a return to NYC after attending a boarding school.
Kate’s outfit bears a resemblance to Serena’s.
Both characters are seen wearing striped shirts, tan jackets, and printed scarves around their necks.
The Calloway home has a table that includes an MTV Video Music Awards moon-person statue and four Grammy awards.
The trophies belong to Julien Calloway’s (Jordan Alexander) dad named Davis, who works in the music industry.
Zoya Lott (Whitney Peak) is an artist, as indicated by the “art not war” sign that can be seen in her room as she gets ready for her first day at Constance.
The decor of Zoya’s room also indicates that she lives a less opulent life than the other characters.
Zoya’s wearing a headband for her first day of high school, a hallmark accessory on the original series.
On the new show, it’s technically a scarf that Zoya wears on her head. Julien’s friend Monet de Haan (Savannah Lee Smith) scoffs at Zoya’s fashion choice later on in the episode, implying that headbands are no longer as fashionable as they used to be.
Zoya’s uniform looks similar to the one worn by Jenny Humphrey (Taylor Momsen) on the original series.
Both characters are doe-eyed and naive when they arrive at Constance Billard.
Julien lives in a penthouse in Tribeca and Zoya resides in an apartment on the Upper West Side.
This is revealed when viewers see Julien ordering a metallic dress from Alice + Olivia online. She lists Zoya’s address as the shipping address but has the purchase billed to herself at 400 Duane St., Penthouse 55, New York, NY 10013.
Kate says the school produced “great people,” including Caroline Kennedy, Coulson Whitehead, and Nate Archibald.
Kate’s mention of the original GG character Nate (Chace Crawford) suggests that he became a notable figure in the years since he was last seen on the prior show.
Although, a teacher named Rebecca Sherman (Sarah Baskin) reminds Kate that Nate didn’t have a squeaky clean image when he was a student at St. Jude’s.
Rebecca pulls up the Gossip Girl site and reminds everyone that Dan Humphrey was the blogger.
“People thought it was me, but it was actually one of my classmates, Dan Humphrey,” she says as she explains to her colleagues how GG kept the students in line and made them accountable for their actions.
It’s unclear what Dan (Penn Badgley) has been up to since he came clean about his identity on the finale of the original series. But Kate refers to him as a “novelist,” which means he’s still a writer.
The last GG blog post is from December 17, 2012. Coincidentally, that’s the exact day that the original series aired its finale.
The new show is set in 2021, nine years after the blog went dark. The series also takes place post-pandemic.
Kate calls out Blair Waldorf’s (Leighton Meester) and Chuck Bass’ (Ed Westwick) toxic relationship.
As Kate scrolls through the GG blog, she says: “This Chuck and Blair thing is out of control. Definitely pre-cancel culture.”
This is a nod to one of the most problematic and polarizing couples on the original show.
The other teachers also mention far-fetched, unrealistic plots from the original series, like Blair being the Princess of Monaco for six months or high-school senior Dan getting published in the New Yorker.
Obie (Eli Brown) drinks from a compostable, disposable cup.
This is a nod to his character being environmentally and socially conscious. In the same episode, Julien calls him “guilty rich.”
The series premiere references Chuck being heartbroken during season one of the original show.
On the HBO show, the teachers read a post that says, “Spotted: Chuck Bass losing something no one knew he had. His heart.”
The same phrase was uttered by GG on season one, episode 10 (“Hi, Society”) when Chuck became jealous after seeing Blair and Nate kissing.
On episode two, Zoya carries a tote bag supporting Black-owned businesses.
The show’s costume designer, Eric Daman, told InStyle that Zoya’s status as an outsider informs her accessories.
“She has aspirations that are socio-political and is an activist,” he said. “We integrate that and what that means to how she dresses with vintage and incorporating Black-owned businesses with school totes that she uses or sweatshirts.”
Fans are reintroduced to original GG character Georgina Sparks’ (Michelle Trachtenberg) son named Milo on episode four.
On the episode, he refers to himself as Milo Sparks — though fans of the original series will recall that his surname used to Humphrey because Dan Humphrey is legally his father. Milo’s biological father is a Russian man named Serge, who was married and had an affair with Georgina.
Milo was born at the start of season four of the original show.
On the new iteration, Milo tells Zoya that he’s a 10-year-old boy in the eighth grade at St. Jude’s, with a knack for problem-solving.
Milo’s home features framed photos of Georgina posing with famous people. There’s also a photo of Blair Waldorf on the wall.
Zoya reluctantly accepts Milo’s help in her ongoing feud with Julien. At the house, the camera pans to images of Georgina with Kim Jong-un, Vladimir Putin, Elon Musk, and Ed Sheeran.
Zoya carries the book “Looking for Lorraine” on the bus.
The biography was written by Imani Perry and centered on late playwright Lorraine Hansberry, known for the play “A Raisin in the Sun.”
Considering Zoya’s love for theater, her book choice makes sense. But instead of reading it, Zoya finds herself obsessively scrolling through Gossip Girl’s Instagram posts.
Original “GG” character Nelly Yuki, played by Yin Chang, returns on the new series.
She was first introduced as Blair’s academic rival on season one of “Gossip Girl” and recurred on the series. On the final season, Nelly returned as a reporter from Women’s Wear Daily.
On the new series, Nelly appears at a Halloween party dressed as editor Eva Chen. It’s revealed that she now works at New York Magazine.
Davis reads a TMZ article about the return of the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade.
According to the article, tourism numbers in NYC were rising ahead of the famous parade.
On episode eight, fans see that frequently-Googled questions about Davis include queries about his career and personal life.
People who Google the producer ask about his most popular song, if he’s related to Julien, what his net worth is, and if he’s still married.
The knight outfit worn by an NYE partygoer who approaches Julien during the final scene was likely stolen from the Menzies’ cellar.
Earlier in the finale, Zoya passes the armor while getting bottles of wine from the cellar. At the end of the episode, the man approaches Julien while in the costume and asks who she is.
In response, she says: “I’m Julien fucking Calloway.”