“It’s a lifestyle.”
“It’s a religion.”
These are the words of mother, Lorelai (Lauren Graham) and her teenage daughter, Rory Gilmore (Alexis Bledel), as they talk about The Donna Reed Show – one of the duo’s countless pop culture references which gives Gilmore Girls its unique contemporary quality. It’s also undoubtedly how the show’s fans would describe their own feelings towards the series.
When it was announced that Gilmore Girls would be making a comeback as the four-episode Netflix mini-series Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, dedicated fans across the globe felt their wish had been granted. After The CW took over production the creator of the show and source of its characteristic wit, Amy Sherman-Palladino, quit and in many ways the essence of Gilmore Girls changed. As a result, many viewers believed the final seventh series was unfaithful to Sherman-Palladino’s intentions. For this reason, ever since the disclosure of the revival, the internet has been exploding with questions: will Rory finally choose between Dean, Jess and Logan? Will Lorelai and Luke have stayed together? There is so much to be answered.
Starting the series on Netflix was in itself a strange feeling, like watching a childhood favourite on the big screen instead of on VCR with its vintage scratchy quality. But as soon as Sam Phillips’ iconic soundtrack flooded in, it was as if the lives of the Gilmores and the other quirky residents of Stars Hallow were picking up exactly where they had left off.
The Gilmore Girls revival is a perfect mixture of festive atmosphere and fast-paced humour. The updated plotlines also seem appropriate for characters now living in 2016, rather than in the period of shocking fashion decisions that was the early noughties. As the opening shot fades into a pan of the snow-covered Stars Hollow lit by fairy lights, nothing seems to have changed. Lorelai and Rory still spend as much time in Luke’s Diner drinking coffee and performing bits as they did before, the loveable Luke (Scott Patterson) remains grumpy but loyal, and the tensions between Lorelai and Emily recommence. Along with this come convincing changes to signify the passing of time, such as the greater significance of technology and the internet, as well as references to recent television and film.
However, while Sherman-Palladino has expertly filled in all the gaps that were left at the end of the original series with practically no detail forgotten, the late Edward Herrmann (who played Rory’s grandfather Richard Gilmore) cannot be replaced. Despite this challenge, Sherman-Palladino intelligently deals with it in an overwhelmingly moving manner. By weaving in the impact of Richard’s death into the characters’ lives, fresh problems in the complex relationship between Lorelai and Emily (Kelly Bishop) develop, allowing the actors as well as the characters they play to mourn the passing of a great man. The growth of the characters is wholly convincing due to the brilliant performances of Graham and Bishop.
However, the same unfortunately cannot be said for Alexis Bledel. In many ways different from Lorelai, Rory was known for her sweetness and diligent personality. But Bledel has clearly lost touch with what was her debuting role; acting stiffly and with a touch of awkwardness, it is as if she is uncomfortable trying to recreate the bright eyed and bushy-tailed Rory Gilmore as a grown woman.
Nonetheless, this slight blip in the revival in no way overshadows the humour and touching emotion that made so many fall in love with Gilmore Girls in the first place. While there will inevitably be viewers who are dissatisfied with resolutions that contrast with what they may have imagined, it is the surprising outcomes that make the show so human. As in real life, the characters face unexpected changes and obstacles, and this is the reason why the series remains so accessible to its viewers regardless of age or gender.
Myself and countless others grew up with Gilmore Girls, and never has there been a more appropriate time to use the phrase ‘it is so much more than just a television show’. An old teacher once said to me that Gilmore Girls is like a piece of the heart. The same teacher gave me the most moving advice I have ever received when I left her class for the last time: “always be proud to be a woman.” I have always kept that at the back of my mind, and when I watch the show, I am strongly reminded of those touching words. With its inspirational messages of ambition, love and feminism, watching Gilmore Girls has been and still is the perfect way to learn how I should be proud, as my teacher said I should be
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