After nine long years, Gilmore Girls, the beloved sitcom following the lives of enigmatic mother-daughter duo Lorelai and Rory in the charming town of Stars Hollow, has finally returned to our screens again. The show has been rebooted for one final series: four hour and a half long mini-movies hosted on Netflix, in what is one hell of a binge-watching-conducive extravaganza.
Each episode is seasonal, spanning either ‘Winter’, ‘Spring’, ‘Summer’ or ‘Fall’ and follows the lives of the Gilmores for 3 months at a time. In what is an extremely rare case for TV revivals, all leading actors have returned to play their original characters, ensuring that fans can experience Stars Hollow in all its nostalgic glory for one last time.
Sadly, there is one absence that is keenly felt in every moment of Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life; that of patriarch Richard Gilmore. Edward Herrmann, the actor who played the role in the original show for 7 years, passed away in 2014 after a battle with brain cancer. Since the announcement of the revival, speculation has been rife as to how creator Amy Sherman-Palladino would incorporate the loss of the show’s central male figure. Far from glossing over his death, Palladino takes this challenge head on and makes it the catalyst from which our story begins.
‘Winter’ finds Lorelai, Rory and Emily all struggling to cope with the loss of Richard, a reoccurring theme throughout all four seasons. Other challenges rise to the surface – relationship problems, professional disappointments and family arguments that have all always been integral parts of the show – but each character’s grief takes precedent. The emotional scenes between Lorelai and her mother are a testament to the power this show has: the rawness of their exchanges is startling, distressing and, above all else, truthful.
Despite this, the feeling of comfort and joy from ‘A Year in the Life’ is undeniable. Seeing old favourites such as Lane, Kirk, Sookie, Taylor and Paris is like the soothing of a hot water bottle on a cold winter’s day, and to hear the rapid fire dialogue and pop culture references brings a delight that has remained unmatched all these years later. Stars Hollow is just as quirky and quaint as it ever was, with numerous festivals, musicals and events that never quite go to plan. Even with an increased focus on modern technology, this revival is like stepping back in time.
While the reboot is an amazing and unexpected treat for long time fans of the show and is undeniably nostalgic, it is not without fault and some disappointment. Some scenes are guilty of being too lengthy and awkward to be truly reminiscent of the original glory of the Gilmore Girls – was watching the entire shambolic run of the Stars Hollow musical really necessary? Why were there minimal natural and intimate scenes between Luke and Lorelai? Why did we see so much of Emily’s maid and her family compared to classic characters like Sookie and Lane? It seems the stretch to fill each hour and a half long episode has resulted in some poorly written scenes that stick out as obvious time fillers.
Yet the real issue that plagued all four episodes was the glaringly artificial and ultimately pointless storylines surrounding Rory’s career. We spend almost 6 hours jumping from one project to another, with no care for time, space or finances, and with no resolution to any potential job prospects. In one year, Rory goes from being a freelance journalist to maybe being a biographer, maybe writing about queues for Condé Nast, or maybe even studying again and becoming a teacher. The only job that seems to last is an unpaid role as editor for the Stars Hollow Gazette, and even that falls through without explanation by the next episode.
Ultimately, the content of Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life is haphazardly thrown together and stretched to an unnatural point, but there are still diamond performances of grief by Lauren Graham as Lorelai and Kelly Bishop as Emily and the enduring charm of Lorelai and Rory’s close relationship. The wit and the clever dialogue between characters still soar as much as they did nine years ago, and to experience these interesting, loveable people and their wonderful town again is a gift that not even enduring the full length of ‘Stars Hollow: The Musical’ can diminish.
Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life is available now to stream on Netflix.