I grew up watching Gilmore Girls with my mom. On snow days and sleepovers, I’d watch it with my friends. Even after rewatching the entire series more times than I could count, as pivotal moments in my life passed, I’d watch specific episodes that went along with each event. So, when the show’s creator Amy Sherman-Palladino announced the four-part revival event, I was ecstatic. As other TV show revivals have come out in the past few years with less than stellar reviews, I had a sinking feeling that the revival wouldn’t live up to the magic that existed in the original series. However, I still remained hopeful and excited to check in with the residents of Stars Hollow, ten years later.
Split into four, ninety-minute episodes, Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life was released on Netflix on Friday, November 25 at 3am EST. Unlike some people I know, I didn’t wake up early to watch it. Instead, I went to my friend’s house in the afternoon, where we ordered Chinese food and had Pop Tarts and Red Vines on hand - classic Gilmore Girls snacking.
Starting with “Winter”, we meet up with Rory and Lorelai sitting on the town gazebo. Their interaction is a little stilted and lacks some of the chemistry found in the original series. Rory's employment and traveling creates a plot that is slightly less than believable, but it builds a scenario by which the following three episodes function. Updating the audience on all of the important townspeople created forced introductions, interrupting the flow of the plot and of individual scenes, but it was still great to see all of the original characters ten years later. Richard's (Edward Hermann) death was dealt with beautifully, with an emotional scene from the funeral, a funny bit about a huge portrait in the living room and little poignant moments throughout all four episodes.
"Spring" continues with the slightly awkward interactions and stilted dialogue, and also features a lot of unbelievable overreacting. Often, the stakes are not high enough for fights of that level and are over things that would not matter that much. Some scenes are awkward to watch and don’t do anything positive to the plot. With the ninety-minute episodes, it almost felt as if it included deleted scenes that shouldn't have made the final cut.
“Spring” also has some great moments, however. Rory returns to Chilton for an Alumni Day with Paris, and we are reminded how vibrant of a character Paris is. Liza Weil’s acting is extremely vivid, strong and true to her character. We finally meet Lane's dad, Mr. Kim (at a town International Food Festival) where he merely waves to Lane and Rory sitting at a booth.
As the episodes progress, "Summer" and "Fall" definitely feature the most important plot movement. The characters begin to feel more natural and fall back into the rhythm of the original.
In "Summer", the town puts on "Stars Hollow: The Musical," which, although it fits with what the town would actually do, as the full songs were a bit much to watch, even with a star-studded cast (Broadway’s Sutton Foster and Christian Borle appear). We could have lived with just clips of each song. Carole King also makes an appearance as her character Sophie, owner of the local music store, to offer up one of her “own songs" to be added to the end of the musical performance. She plays "I Feel The Earth Move" on the piano, much to Town Selectman Taylor’s dismay.
Sookie's (Melissa McCarthy) absence in the first three episode creates awkward scenes with unneeded guest actors working at the Dragonfly. Her return in "Fall" reminds us how endearing of a character and friend she is. The subtle parallels made between Rory with Jess/Logan and Lorelai with Luke/Christopher creates depth that resonates back through the rest of the series.
The best parts were the moments that felt most like the original show - when the dialogue felt natural and witty and the characters fell into a natural rhythm. The mixing of pre-existing songs with the classic “la-la”s was a great musical device. The revival also included beautiful montages and scenes that stray from the strict realism of the original, but which flesh out the aesthetic and emotions of the town and characters.
The focus on all three Gilmore girls, Emily, Rory and Lorelai, was a nice way to stay connected to all three of their social circles and life paths, while also understanding the inner-workings of each of their relationships. Despite parts of the acting and structure of the revival feeling awkward and unneeded, the overall story and opportunity to revisit the characters and the town were something that all Gilmore Girl fans should watch.