Every TV nostalgia project in Hollywood is different, but they tend to follow the same journey.
There's the slow-building rumor mill about the project, such as the many reunions among Full House cast members on social media that indeed resulted in the announcement of Fuller House. There's the intense buzz that puts pressure on actors to return, even if some (like Zachary Quinto in Heroes Reborn) decline to appear. And there are sky-high expectations - which can quickly fizzle, a la the disappointing fourth season of Arrested Development.
This month, all eyes are on Netflix with another much-hyped nostalgia offering: the revival of Gilmore Girls, the beloved WB drama that ran from 2000 to 2007 and followed a mother-daughter best friend duo (Lauren Graham as Lorelai and Alexis Bledel as Rory) in a small Connecticut town.
Titled Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life (premiering November 25), the reboot consists of four 90-minute episodes that take the characters through winter, spring, summer and fall. The anticipation is at a fever pitch, particularly because creator Amy Sherman-Palladino and her husband, executive producer Dan Palladino, left the show before the final season. Fans will finally get to see the couple's vision for the end of the series. Now, the closure has finally arrived. Here's how the reboot went from an idea to a reality, in 10 steps:
Step 1: Initial rumblings
How do Hollywood executives know whether there's enough interest to spend time and money on a TV reboot? They have to feel the excitement in the air.
In September 2014, Netflix announced that it was bringing all seven seasons to the streaming service. The Internet exploded over the news, as fans rejoiced that they wouldn't have to spring for expensive DVD sets or hope to catch reruns.
The creators started to think about new episodes when they saw the intense reaction the show received when first-time viewers suddenly started binge-watching. Netflix noticed as well.
"Our global licensing of Gilmore Girls around the world - the first seven seasons - enabled us to really get an insight into the idea that this was a real global and current cultural phenomenon," Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos told The Washington Post.
Step 2: More rumblings
It's one thing to hear that people are psyched for a show. It's another to see it. In June 2015, the Gilmore Girls cast reunited for the first time at the ATX Television Festival in Austin. The nearly two-hour panel thrilled people in the audience as well as fans breathlessly awaiting news on the outside.
Amy Sherman-Palladino had been fielding questions about a reboot for years, and during that discussion, she stoked the flames. "It would have to be honoured in a certain way," she cautioned, adding that everyone would jump at the chance if it felt right.
Scott Patterson, who plays Luke, said that's when the possibility of a revival became a reality. "I think ATX really kind of drove it home to all parties involved that it could work," he said at this past summer's Television Critics Association press tour.
Step 3: Official rumours
This is different from the project's actual announcement. Official rumours are when a very credible source essentially reports that the show is "in the works," which doesn't give away too much but also causes fans to go crazy. It's a crucial way to build buzz.
For Gilmore Girls, TVLine.com editor and longtime GG fan Michael Ausiello had the honour of breaking the news before Netflix officially confirmed anything.
At 5:30 p.m. Eastern on Oct. 19, 2015, he tweeted this, with a link to a story on his website:
Step 4: Fans lose their minds
Twenty minutes after Ausiello's tweet hit the Internet, articles from other publications started pouring in, and #GilmoreGirls was a worldwide trending topic on Twitter.
The tweets came in different varieties. Many were ecstatic:
Some were measured and realistic:
Others only spoke in the fandom's inside joke language:
Step 5: The conspiracies
Without any official word, fans get desperate for information and misinterpret things. Or do they?!
In early January 2016, pictures of the set being built on the Warner Bros. lot in Los Angeles surfaced on a Facebook fan page called Gilmore Girls Forever. One photo had a set piece with sign that said "Lizzy & Luke's house," and viewers freaked out: Did that mean Lorelai and probable soul mate Luke, apparently destined for happiness in the series finale, weren't together anymore? After all, Luke's sister's name was Liz! Was he living with her?
Eventually, a commenter on the Facebook page floated the idea that maybe the set piece was meant for a different show filmed on the Warner Bros. lot that featured characters named Luke and Lizzy. Still, blogs covered the potentially heartbreaking news with headlines such as, "If these Gilmore Girls reboot set photos are real, abandon all hope."
Step 6: Official confirmation
Finally, Netflix confirmed the news at the Television Critics Association winter press tour on Jan. 29: Gilmore Girls would return for the four installments, each one chronicling a different season. Graham tweeted out this photo, which was retweeted 44,000 times:
Step 7: The casting
Who will be a part of the reboot?! For the next several weeks, throughout the winter (filming officially started Feb. 2 and continuedthrough May 10), there was a steady drip of news each day as various cast members confirmed their status via Twitter or Instagram. Sometimes, this leads to ...
Step 8: The controversies
For a while, it seemed like Melissa McCarthy would not be joining the revival - in February, Sherman-Palladino said that McCarthy (Bridesmaids, The Heat) was too busy to participate. Fans took this very personally, as McCarthy (who played Lorelai's best friend, chef Sookie St. James) was an integral part of the series. Is it because she's too busy being a movie star now?!
On April 7, McCarthy finally confirmed her schedule allowed her to film. At the TCA summer press tour, Sherman-Palladino said everyone always knew it would it happen. "It took on this weird life of its own," she said of the faux-controversy. "Everybody wants everybody to hate each other now."
Step 9: The buildup
In April, Entertainment Weekly published the first batch of photos from the Netflix revival, which showed Rory and Lorelai walking through town, as well as Rory standing at the front of a classroom. (Did she quit journalism?)
In July, the first teaser footage featured the mother-daughter duo riffing about Amy Schumer and John Oliver. Then Netflix set a release date: All episodes will drop the day after Thanksgiving. Later, the Gilmore Girls Instagram account sent out a mysterious photo of an apple, which caused many to think Rory could be pregnant. (Long story.)
Each small piece of news set off a wave across the Internet. That's not even counting when coffee shops across the country turned into "Luke's Diner" to celebrate the show's 16th anniversary in early October. Or the official "Gilmore Girls Fan Fest" later that month, a three-day event featuring episode screenings and cast member Q&As. It took place in Washington Depot, Conn., the small town that inspired much of Sherman-Palladino's idea for the show.
Step 10: The release
On November 25, we'll finally see if all of the above - and so much more - was actually worth it.
Bethonie Butler and Hank Stuever contributed to this report.