It’s here! It’s here! The Gilmore Girls revival finally hit Netflix on Friday! As you know, I was excited of course, but I had worries. It didn’t matter: I was pleased as punch and grinning like a happy cat when I could settle down with some pizza (and other assorted junk food – it’s just how it’s done) to spend six new hours with my Stars Hollow faves.
There are spoilers in this post, kids, so if you weren’t expecting that I suggest you look away now.
For the most part, I was very satisfied. It did most of the things it said on the label: it was true to GG form with all of the fast-talking fervour and small town weirdness I expected. The first three episodes in particular were pretty much exactly what I wanted. I didn’t want to say so too early, but it was only halfway through ‘Winter’ when I decided I was totally on board. Holy cow, this was going to be ok! Everyone was there and they were just the same (except Miss Patty – what happened there?). I wasn’t even that annoyed by Logan or Jess or Dean. Paris’ meltdown in the Chilton bathrooms was vintage and perfect and Liza Weil is just the bomb. Kirk’s film. The secret bar. Michel, and Taylor, and all the peeps from Hep Alien (hi Sebastian Bach!).
And yet. Yet.
I have been considering many things since finishing the final episode and hearing chatter from friends and online about how the revival was received. A sticking point for so many people seems to be that, actually, Lorelai and Rory don’t end the series having learned very much or changing their self-centred ways. My hopes for Lane Kim were dashed but I wasn’t really surprised that Rory was again treating her as a sounding board and little else. Lorelai and Rory are not great at maintaining their friendships except with each other. I thought there may have been a good opportunity to give balance to Rory/Lane and Lorelai/Sookie given both Gilmore girls were on paths of self-reflection and apparent change, but again it ended with Sookie, much like Lane, catering (literally!) to Lorelai’s every whim and (frustratingly!) apologising for having some agency of her own.
But am I judging too harshly? Lorelai and Rory have never been anything but hugely flawed characters, wrapped in witty, nice-haired packages. Why I expected any more is a mystery, because Gilmore Girls is largely a study in not having your shit together at any age, by choice, by circumstance or by sheer dumb luck. They don’t always make the right decisions or even good decisions but they try and I think that’s what makes them endearing despite their obvious faults. Would it have rung true for either Rory or Lorelai to completely change and become, for want of a better word, better? In a 6 hour story arc, would it have felt untrue to have a complete turnaround that was barely even considered for seven whole seasons? I think so.
Moreover, was it enough that Emily did change? In truth, I think Emily’s arc was the most refreshing of the series. I was banking on those last four words being between Lorelai and Emily, and in a storyline that hung so much on their relationship, it seemed like it may have been a strong possibility. Given the emphasis on the Emily/Lorelai relationship, the sticking point for me was in Emily’s absence from the wedding. I can’t help but feel that action alone would do much to undo the steps the older mother-daughter relationship had been taking. They were getting there and then, suddenly, they weren’t.
And the actual last four words? Part of me wanted to throw my pizza across the room. But Palladino and Co had a tough gig ahead of them – with a vision of how it would end from the very beginning and a bit of work to do to undo the damage of season 7, and with the fact that people and relationships, even in autumnal, lovely Stars Hollow, are hard, who am I to say if they were right or wrong? In a lot of ways they fit perfectly, despite my misgivings around what that development actually means.
Impressively, A Year in the Life tackled grief admirably. Much like the early seasons tackled conflict and issues with deft conversations, the absence of Richard Gilmore was handled perfectly with all the sadness and effectiveness I could have hoped for. There was a presence in his absence and Edward Hermann was there in spirit if not in person. I was sad, but they did him justice.
There is so much more I could say about this revival, but I’ll hold it there. Overall, I’d rate it 8 take-away coffees out of 10. I’d love to hear your thoughts on A Year in the Life. Hit me up in the comments below.
On a lighter, final note, I couldn’t help but think that A Year in the Life was ideal for a drinking game. So I made one. You’re welcome.
One drink for each of the following:
- The first appearance of favourite supporting character
- There is an uncomfortably overt modern day reference
- There is a reference to Stars Hollow / the Dragonfly Inn being out of date
- Someone pours an alcoholic drink
- Someone is drinking coffee
- Paris Gellar steals the scene
- Kirk steals the scene
- Rory is writing
- Lorelai is complaining
Two drinks for each of the following:
- Hep Alien jam session
- Town meeting
- Luke is not wearing his hat
Finish your drink for each of the following:
- To stem the tears over Richard’s funeral
- There is a weird musical montage for no apparent reason
- When one of Rory’s ex-boyfriends appears
- That whole musical scene. Just keep drinking, folks.
- The last four words (then open a whole other bottle)
(Drink responsibly, obviously).
‘Til next time,