It has been nine years since we last said goodbye to the Gilmore Girls and 16 years since the series first aired. Now the shows creator Amy Sherman-Palladino and her husband Daniel Palladino are rightfully back at the helm of the Gilmore narrative to end the series the way it was intended.
The return of the beloved small town charm brought back why I enjoyed watching Gilmore Girls all those years. It instills warm and fuzzy sentiments of safety and comfort; it still feels like home.
If you’re worried that this review will give away even a hint of a spoiler, find reassurance in knowing that if I was to disclose even a whisper of plot, Netflix would come down on me with the thunder of a thousand Taylor Dooses.
As for the revival, feel comfort in learning that the chemistry between Rory, Emily, Lorelai and Luke has deepened over time, and has never been better. The pop culture references are as varied as ever, updated to 2016 and fired out so fast, it’s hard to keep track.
Thankfully, the revival is stylistically the same, which is jarring at first compared with Netflix’s more modern offerings. With GG’s trademark almost Truman universe feel, as if Stars Hollows exists within a impenetrable snow globe, with the same old La-La-La-Las signposting the series’ nostalgia.
Lauren Graham is able to slip back into the role of Lorelai with such ease, it’s staggering. Alexis Bledel takes longer to fit back into the shoes of Rory – but this might be partly due to how much Rory has grown up over the years.
The death of Edward Herrmann and the character of Richard, is handled with a realism the series really strives in emulating. Newly widowed Emily’s story line is perhaps the most enjoyable to watch unfold – and by enjoyable I mean, I’ve never ugly cried so hard.
The revival works wonderfully when it addresses some of the larger themes at play from the series beginnings, that go unsaid. The evolving relationship between Emily and Lorelai, alongside Rory and Lorelai for me, made the series’ comeback. After all, the show is grounded by a love story; a love story between mother and daughter.
Some subplots worked better than others. A Stars Hollow musical scene is tediously long, while a story sequence following a 30-something club just doesn’t work and maybe shouldn’t have made the final edit.
Town meetings don’t feel as quirky and quaint as they used to, maybe because they are given too much screen time, so that the novelty quickly wears off.
Everyone you want to see will be there and the majority of mysteries surrounding the series are solved. The idea of the character’s life stories going “full circle” is stitched into the fabric of The Year in a Life, it’s mentioned time and time again, but it pays off in the end.
Addressing a number of critiques of the Gilmore universe – such as a lack of LGBTIQA and racial diversity – lip service is payed to them all, but each barely scratches the surface or fully engages with the problem.
The nostalgia at time dances on the line between whimsy and contrived. There are some seriously weird scenes in the final episode involving Rory, some old friends and a dance scene, that I’m still scratching my head over.
Some characters are absolutely spot on – like Paris, Kirk and Michel – while others seem to be an afterthought. It pains me to say that Lane does not get the dedicated time in story and character development that she deserved.
If you’re team Logan, Jess or dare I say Dean, get ready to be somewhat disappointed but simultaneously vindicated.
Without revealing too much, those four final words that have plagued the series since it’s untimely finale were a surprise to me – as a dedicated Gilly that has thought long and hard about a satisfying conclusion. But these four words never occurred to me. They are powerful. They are a tad confusing. But most importantly, they leave room for much more to be said.
If you’re a newcomer to Gilmore Girls, I’m not sure you will find a lot to like in the revival. It’s not all smooth sailing and there are frequent bumps (plot holes, just plain wtf moments) along the way, that only a GG devotee can easily forgive.
Even from a fan’s perspective, some of the characters actions at times don’t seem consistent with the series I know. But this is the problem when viewing the series through comparing and contrasting with its prior seven seasons. It’s set up for failure, as who can say what any of these characters would say and do after almost ten years away… well, except revival creator Sherman-Palladino.
Whether it’s that old is always considered more nuanced than new, and rose-tinted glasses will better our perspective over time (and multiple viewings) – I am glad the revival happened.
Trust in that the leading characters which guide the series haven’t changed at all and as we revisit Stars Hollow after almost 10 years past, the viewer feels welcomed home.
My hot tip:
Even though all four episodes are available at once, I would pace yourself and stagger the episodes. Running at 90 minutes per episode, each stands alone as two episodes or the length of a movie. I would treat them as such, and watch each with some time in between – rather than a 6 hour binge session. Break up the episodes. Take it slow and make it last.
Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life is available to stream on Netflix on November 25 from 7pm in Melbourne, Sydney and Tassie, 6pm in Brisbane, 6:30pm in Adelaide, 5:30pm in Darwin and 4pm in Perth.