Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life is a giant nostalgia shot

By Wenlei Ma

This realisation made me feel old. When I was a teen, the life Lorelai had seemed so grown-up - she had a kid of her own, she was in charge of a sizeable business and, at times, had it together.

But 16 years on, and nine years since we last said goodbye to Gilmore Girls, not much has changed since those early years at the beginning of the millennium. Time has stood still in Stars Hallow, even as our lives have moved on.

When Netflix finally confirmed the feverish rumours of a Gilmore Girls revival a year ago, the reaction was, shall we say, a tad hyperbolic. That four new instalments of the Gilmore Girls was going to bank heavily on nostalgia was a given.

But 16 years on, and nine years since we last said goodbye to Gilmore Girls, not much has changed since those early years at the beginning of the millennium. Photo / Netflix
But 16 years on, and nine years since we last said goodbye to Gilmore Girls, not much has changed since those early years at the beginning of the millennium. Photo / Netflix

The show had such a specific tone and cadence to it, that if it deviated too much from what was established, surely fans would revolt? So creator Amy Sherman-Palladino and her husband Daniel Palladino (neither of whom were involved in the show's seventh season) played it safe.

Announcement after announcement added to the long list of Gilmore actors returning to the fold. From the main men in Lorelai and Rory's lives - Luke, Jess, Logan and Dean - to all the friends, townsfolk and bizarre characters encountered over the years, they all came flooding back.

And all those people are pretty much exactly where we left them nine years ago. Lane and Zach are still balancing their twins with their musical ambitions, Michel is still being snarky and Kirk is still starting crackpot businesses (Ooober, which is exactly what you think it is). Paris is still brilliantly putting the fear into everyone she's ever met and April isn't any less annoying.

Even the town troubadour is still engaged in a turf war.

The best parts of Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life had to do with storylines where people had changed, or their lives had evolved. But it seemed as though those decisions were more out of logistical necessity than narrative purpose, namely Edward Herrmann's death and Melissa McCarthy's rise to the A-list.

Lane and Zach are still balancing their twins with their musical ambitions. Photo / Netflix
Lane and Zach are still balancing their twins with their musical ambitions. Photo / Netflix

Emily's story was the most satisfying, character-wise and thematically. The revival picks up roughly three months after Richard Gilmore's funeral. Emily is at a loss, figuring out how to live without her partner and figuring out what kind of person she wants to be.

Finding the strength to do what she wants, the things that bring her joy, rather than playing the rigid role she has been expected to perfect for the past decades is the highlight of the six hours.

The heavy reliance on nostalgia and keeping things familiar and comforting are exactly why the Gilmore Girls revival falls short. It is exactly what you expect - which is both fulfilling and disappointing at the same time.

Paris is still brilliantly putting the fear into everyone she's ever met. Photo / Netflix
Paris is still brilliantly putting the fear into everyone she's ever met. Photo / Netflix

It gives you a much-needed dose of warmth in a world that has become increasingly alienating, like a visit from a childhood best friend who's spend the better part of the last decade on another continent. Except that friend is still caught up in the same petty grievances as 10 years ago.

That is what is dispiriting about the Gilmore Girls revival. That its two main characters, Lorelai and Rory, haven't changed.

They spend the four episodes battling the same demons, the same conflicts and the same insecurities we have seen over and over again in those first seven seasons - Lorelai is a commitmentphobe and Rory is lost. They haven't learnt anything. Their arcs feel rehashed and a sense of déjà vu pervades the whole endeavour.

Even the wardrobes haven't changed on Gilmore Girls. Photo / Netflix
Even the wardrobes haven't changed on Gilmore Girls. Photo / Netflix

It's a wasted opportunity and calls into question what the point of the revival really was.

If all you want is to revisit a place where everything remained as it was, like a fairytale town trapped in a snow globe, then this revival will be enough for you.

But Gilmore Girls fans are passionate advocates. In the 16 years since it first aired, we've grown up, grown apart and forged new paths in our own lives. It's a shame that the show's characters haven't.

- news.com.au

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