‘Why are all the actors half-white?’: Cast announcement for Indonesian ‘Gossip Girl’ remake raises eyebrows

Teasers for ‘Gossip Girl Indonesia’. Photo: Instagram/@goplayindonesia
Teasers for ‘Gossip Girl Indonesia’. Photo: Instagram/@goplayindonesia

Indonesia is getting a remake of hit American teen drama Gossip Girl, but public reaction to the show’s cast announcement has not been so XOXO.

The remake, which is an original series by Gojek’s video-on-demand platform Go-Play, will focus on the lives of rich teenagers in the Indonesian equivalent of NYC’s Upper East Side (which appears to be hip Jakarta neighborhood Senopati).

Yesterday, Go-Play announced the cast of the main characters of the series, which is dominated by up-and-coming Indonesian actors.

Much of the online reaction focused on the race of the actors, with many netizens complaining that the show is not doing anything to fix the lack of representation of “real Indonesians” in the country’s entertainment industry, which often favor mixed-race and fair-skinned actors for major roles.

I knew from the beginning that the Gossip Girl Indonesia cast will be mixed-race [actors] on average.

Why would you make the Indonesian version while all the actors playing in it are half-white?

Some also questioned the apparent anglofixation with the character’s names, particularly that of main character Blair Waldorf, whose Indonesian equivalent is Blair Hadiningrat.

Had the characters’ names been adapted to Indonesian names, it would be just fine. But now it just sounds weird and forced.

That said, some are holding out for hope that the remake will turn out to be good, especially as the series is helmed by Nia Dinata, who famously directed Arisan! (2003), Berbagi Suami or Love For Share (2006), and the remake of Ini Kisah Tiga Dara (2016).

Netizens who are protesting may predict that [Gossip Girl Indonesia] will be sinetron-esque, but the director is Nia Dinata, put some respect to her name.

When #GossipGirlIndonesia [was first announced to be made by] Kak Nia Dinata, I was REALLY HAPPY. Then when the cast was announced (especially because of my favorite couple) my happiness was multiplied. Really suit their traits. Ah I can’t wait for it to stream.

The Indonesian remake of Gossip Girl is slated for release in early 2020.

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