The long-awaited return of the hit comedy-drama finally arrived on Netflix last Friday. Our writers share their opinions on the successes and failures of the return to Stars Hollow.
The build up to the new episodes of Gilmore Girls could not have been any bigger. But my most prescient feeling during the ‘Winter’ episode was one of disappointment. It feels a bit like going to a class reunion: it’s nice to see all your old friends, but it’s just not the same. The initial dialogue between Lorelai and Rory seems stiff and lacks all of the ease for which Gilmore Girls has always been loved.
Some of the worst moments were the attempts to emphasise the show’s new modernity: Lorelai complains about body shaming and trigger warnings, Luke hands out fake wifi passwords, and the new chef at the Dragonfly tweets regularly. This is not only rather odd, coming from characters we are used to seeing texting with giant mobile phones and watching movies on an old tube TV, but also seems quite artificial and gets irritating quickly.
Some of the narrative decisions make perfect sense. For example, it is a joy to see Michel as an openly gay character finally. But most of them are simply utter nonsense, above all: Rory’s boyfriend Paul. Why she is dating the most unremarkable man on earth, and additionally having a secret affair with Logan, is not explained in the slightest. Equally absurd is the justification for Luke and Lorelai not having children: apparently, they just forgot to talk about it.
Nonetheless, the absurdity and the love for detail that characterise Gilmore Girls can still be found. The dialogues are witty, the cosiness of Lorelai’s house and the Dragonfly Inn is still the same, and supporting characters Paris and Emily have been developed convincingly. But all in all, the first of the new episodes has a melancholy undertone that is so different from the innocent happiness of Stars Hollow life. This is a nice little tale about ageing, missed opportunities, and the fugacity of life. But it is not a worthy sequel to one of the best series of all times.
The second instalment in this iconic revival sees more interesting times in Stars Hollow, as Rory’s seemingly clear-cut path takes a slightly downward turn. Since the beginning of Gilmore Girls, Rory has for the most part had everything she could have ever wanted.
So, when multiple writing opportunities fall through one after the other, through no fault of her own, she finds herself back in Stars Hollow and a bit lost. Yes, she maybe should have prepared for her interviews a little better, but this shows that she is only human and even more like Lorelai than we realised. However, when she returns to Chilton to give a speech, she is advised to pursue a career in teaching after doing such a good job. I personally feel that she would excel in this role, and it would be an ideal full circle for her character from series one to the revival. Lorelai, meanwhile, also appears slightly lost. Her and Emily’s relationship continues to be rocky, and attending therapy sessions together only brings up more resentment and bitterness. The performances from both of these actors is outstanding however, and their mother-daughter chemistry on screen is better than ever. Death and grief has never been adressed in such depth before, and it is here that we see a far more mature side of the show.
Another excellent performance is from Liza Weiler in her role of Paris Geller. Now a fertility doctor, Paris has grown up to be quite a fantastic role model: driven, fiercely intelligent, completely hilarious. Kirk’s career is also thriving. He is now the proud director of a short film starring his pet pig named Petal. Genius. So for any fanatics who were mildly (or severely) concerned about their beloved show being ruined by a mediocre comeback, have no fear. While spring did not bring with it a huge amount of joy and success for our beloved characters, it did bring 10/10 drama.
This year has given us a lot to think about over the Christmas holidays. We will all remember where we were when a racist, sexist wotsit was elected President of the United States, or when David Bowie died, and especially when we heard about the one sweet thing left in this world: the Gilmore Girls revival.
I have not yet met someone who ‘low-key’ likes Gilmore Girls. People either ‘don’t really get it’ (you just have not watched it enough), or they live for it. I fall into the latter category. It is like going home for Christmas, except your grandma is not judging you, and you can binge-watch shows because they are ‘a lifestyle – no, a religion’. And you are not judged for the amount of coffee you need to get through the day. In fact, overdosing on caffeine is encouraged.
Episode 3 of Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life is set during summer – not traditionally my favourite Gilmore season, but after the excellence of the first two episodes, one Chinese takeaway down, and with ice cream at the ready, I was in a good place and ready for more.
Anyway, I thought the first episode set the scene well, taking us back to where we left off, although it took a while for events to get underway. The second was a bit like the sad scene montage in a romcom, so I wanted to be perked up by the third. I had also heard great things about the Autumn episode so I was dying to get to the good bits, and undeniably already feeling a bit unstable that I was over halfway through. So, without giving too much away, although this was the weakest episode of the revival it was still bloody brilliant.
I am not a fan of many revivals, and as a huge fan I was actually ready to be disappointed. I had doubts: how could Rory’s character possibly progress well into adulthood? Shouldn’t Luke’s baseball cap be superglued to his head? I did not like promo shots of him without it; I did not like seeing them looking older; and I was worried about Lane’s hair. But it is perfect, and I feel unnervingly proud of the Gilmore cast and crew.
Welcome back to fall in Stars Hollow. This final conclusion to the story that has captured our hearts for so long is, like the real season of fall, the best of them all. The characters retain their essential characteristics but delve into exciting new territory. This episode is a combination of shocking images of characters like Lorelai Gilmore in uncharacteristic settings such as the great outdoors, or Emily Gilmore calling her maid by name, but somehow, over the years, these images have come to be coherent in the world of the Gilmore girls. Old characters come back in this episode, from Dean to the long-missed Suki. Despite the time, Suki is still expressing her love through cooking. However, this is not just a series of fond recollections.
While everything you love about Stars Hollow and your favourite Stars Hollow residents remain intact, the lighting is better, the makeup is perfect and the cinematography would look at home on a larger screen. The more substantial changes are the broad character transformations that all three generations of Gilmores undergo in this episode, reaching, in some cases unexpected, and in others perfectly natural, conclusions to struggles new and old. The first clips trade that witty, fast banter we know and love for slower, more reflective plot points.
My favourite parts of this episode were the ones that focused on these three women. Without revealing the details of their story, I ask you to picture Rory and Lorelai laughing, their hair blowing in the wind as they stick their heads out of the sunroof of Lorelai’s jeep. Picture them side by side, on the town gazebo, with those beautiful Stars Hollow red, orange and yellow trees on either side. In the end, see a finally fully realised Emily Gilmore in all her glory. Watch Lorelai finally let go of a few constants in order to be with the people she loves the most. Take those next steps in your life into the vulnerable and the unknown with Rory.
Ultimately, this episode reminded me that it was not just Lorelai leading and Rory following, but our whole generation following behind Rory.
Image: Laura Spence