Gilmore Girls back - flaws and all

By Emily Yahr

The magic’s still there in four 90-minute parts — just don’t watch it all in one sitting.
Lorelai and Rory return as the mother-daughter best-friend duo who live in the gloriously quirky town of Stars Hollow.
Lorelai and Rory return as the mother-daughter best-friend duo who live in the gloriously quirky town of Stars Hollow.

Let's cut right to the chase, Gilmore Girls fans, and start with the good news: The Netflix revival of the beloved drama has everything you want. Lorelai and Rory return as the mother-daughter best-friend duo who live in the gloriously quirky town of Stars Hollow, Connecticut. The original creator and executive producers are in charge, ensuring the highly anticipated reboot is chock-full of callbacks, inside jokes and life updates on your favourite supporting characters.

The bad news: It's not perfect. It's actually far from perfect. The revival has four 90-minute chapters, and it turns out that 42-minute episodes were the perfect amount of time before the famously sparkling dialogue and wacky plotlines start to drag - and characters' flaws go from endearing to irritating.

The best news: Fans won't care. Because Gilmore Girls is back.

Although television is cluttered with nostalgia projects, nothing quite strikes a chord like Gilmore Girls, which ran on the WB and the CW from 2000 to 2007.

Executive producers Amy Sherman-Palladino and Dan Palladino couldn't reach a financial deal with the studio and left before the seventh and final season, which was considered a huge disappointment, bogged down by nonsensical story lines. It all adds an extra layer of excitement to the revival, because viewers finally get to see the "real" ending.

As someone who has rewatched Gilmore Girls more times than I care to admit, hitting "play" on the first episode was nerve-racking.

The magic of Gilmore Girls is buried deep in my psyche, as it is for many other fans, thanks to deeply relatable characters (Rory made it cool to be an introvert who loved to read!), sharp writing and the dream of living in a cosy town.

Would the revival meet my sky-high expectations? Or would it confirm my fears that it could never live up to the actual series?

I'll be honest - it was a little of both. Before viewing the episodes, Netflix required reporters to sign agreements in which we swore not to reveal any spoilers.

But here's what I can tell you: The first episode is delightfully surreal. As in, is this really happening? Are Lorelai (Lauren Graham) and Rory (Alexis Bledel) bantering about coffee and trading pop culture references like no time has passed? The Stars Hollow Gazette gets a shout-out? Wait, town weirdo Kirk (Sean Gunn) has a pet pig? Actually, that seems about right.

Viewers get swept back into the all-consuming Gilmore world, starting in the wintertime. Each episode takes place in a different season over a year.

The theme of the revival is arriving at a crossroads (yes, Lorelai would make a Britney Spears joke here) and what to do when there are no easy answers.

When we last saw Rory - the straight A student with dreams of being a foreign correspondent - she had just graduated from Yale University with a job with a political website covering then-Senator Barack Obama's presidential campaign.

Although theoretically that would be quite the launchpad for a successful career, curiously, in the new series, it doesn't come up at all. Now 32, Rory is struggling to find a permanent foothold in the fiercely competitive journalism world. On a trip home to Stars Hollow, she repeatedly assures her mother that she has a lot of irons in the fire although she's clearly terrified about her future.

Lorelai, meanwhile, is dealing with a midlife crisis of sorts, spending a fair amount of time in a (mostly bewildered) therapist's office.

She's also thinking about the future of the Dragonfly Inn, her dream business that she opened with her best friend, Sookie (Melissa McCarthy). Plus, she and grumpy diner owner Luke (Scott Patterson), the fan-favourite choice for her soul mate, aren't all smooth sailing - even though the trailer features them sharing a kiss.

Threaded through the stories is the grief over the death of Edward Herrmann, who played Richard, Lorelai's father; Herrmann died of cancer two years ago. In the revival, his widow, Emily (Kelly Bishop), grapples with life without her husband of 50 years.

In the years since Gilmore Girls went off the air, some viewers have pointed out the show's lack of diversity and its racial stereotypes, particularly Mrs Kim (Emily Kuroda), the very strict Korean mother of Rory's best friend Lane (Keiko Agena). Although Stars Hollow has evolved in many ways, much of the original tone remains the same - and there's a hint at how the show feels about politically correct culture.

"Body shaming! Trigger warnings!" Lorelai sarcastically yells when Luke is upset that she's eating tacos before a full dinner. "War on Christmas!" - One of the downsides of rewatching your favourite show is that the flaws become magnified.

Many young women rewatch Gilmore Girls and realise they relate more to Lorelai than Rory, a scary reminder of the passage of time - and that Rory could be, well, kind of annoying.

All the characters have their negative traits, which are on display in the revival: selfishness, the rash decisions that hurt others, the casual cruelty disguised as banter.

Although it's all part of making them well-rounded, binge-watching six hours of it in a row reinforces how your much-loved characters make poor choices.

This could be why Sherman-Palladino was upset when Netflix refused to release the episodes one week at a time, and instead will drop them all at once, which is custom. Indeed, some advice: Ninety-minute Gilmore Girls episodes are not for binge-watching, at least not all in one sitting.

Not only do some of the characters become insufferable, but some expanded scenes are ones that don't necessarily need expanding.

Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life (four episodes) begins streaming on November 25 on Netflix.

- Washington Post

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