News of the revival of “Gilmore Girls” (called “A Year in the Life,” out on Netflix Nov. 25) has been an emotional experience for all of us who grew up bantering in spirit with Lorelai and Rory over coffee and Pop Tarts. Last night, I mentioned the new trailer to a group of friends, and the volume of our dinner conversation rose exponentially in seconds. Everyone agreed that the revival just wouldn’t be the same, even though all of the characters we love are coming back. I found the trailer to be as good as it could be given that it’s a revival: The tone was mostly consistent with what we all remembered, and the most important people and places were all back. But still, reviving a show that has meant so much to so many people is a complex thing, and watching the revival in a few weeks will require some preparation for both longtime fans and novices who are just getting into the show.
Here’s some guidance for the newbie who either binged “Gilmore Girls” on Netflix recently or is just starting the process after hearing about the show one too many times from friends:
- Know the context and why this revival is different from other ones: Most newcomers don’t know this, but what’s so exciting about the revival is that it’s the return of the person behind the “Gilmore Girls” world: Amy Sherman-Palladino. Sherman-Palladino left the show before its last season, and many fans have refused to watch it, believing that it “doesn’t count.” Now, Sherman-Palladino is back to finish the series in the way that she intended. What’s more, it’s likely that we’ll finally get to hear the final four words of the show that she consistently teased having in mind while “Gilmore Girls” was still on air. While many TV revivals feel far removed from the original shows, fans hope that the return of the show’s creator will make this revival feel the opposite, like a return to a version of the show that feels more real and more itself than it did in its final years.
- Enjoy the peripheral characters: Re-watching this show has made me realize just how crucial the supporting characters are to the charm that brings us all in. Spending so much time with Lorelai and Rory can make you want to punch them both (in the loving way that you’d want to punch a family member, of course). I wish I’d balanced my focus a little more the first time around and made enough time to fall more deeply in love with people like Sookie, Lane, and Paris, and even the more peripheral characters like Gypsy or Caesar. Seeing all of them back for the revival made me happier than I realized I’d be; I realized that they were just as big a part of the show as the girls were. And when you get annoyed at Lorelai and Rory, which you inevitably will, these characters give you a way to stay engaged with, and enamored by, the show. Also: you probably know this already if you’ve watched at least one episode, but Kelly Bishop’s portrayal of matriarch Emily Gilmore is spectacular. In my view, she’s the best character on the show. Enjoy her most of all.
And now, some guidance for the old-time fan (spoilers will follow):
- Don’t hold your expectations too high: All of the above said, this is still a revival, and it won’t be the exact same show that we all knew and loved. It’s also possible that if we think back, we’ll find that a lot of our passion for the show had to do with the place in our lives that we were in, or other factors that might not be the same today. I’ve heard lots of fellow fans lament the fact that in retrospect, the show is just not as good as we all remembered it to be. I would argue that part of this has to do with the rise of plot-driven, fast-paced television; in comparison, “Gilmore Girls” is a show in which basically nothing happens. Characters talk, they get coffee and eat cheeseburgers and get more coffee, and sometimes there’s a big festival where everyone gathers to talk some more and eat some more. That’s about it.The comparatively rapid pace of TV today is all the more reason to argue that we could use some more “Gilmore Girls,” but it’s also possible that in looking back on the show, you’ll find that the characters and dialogue aren’t quite enough to hold the concept up on its own. I still love the show, but I admit to finding some of Lorelai’s banter more headache-inducing when I re-watched than I remembered it being the first time around.
- Don’t worry too much about who Rory winds up with: We all have our opinions on this matter. I’ve personally fluctuated between Logan and Jess before settling on Jess (I know, I know, but I genuinely believe that Logan could be great if we gave him a few years). It’s hard not to hitch all of our excitement about the revival on the hope that Rory will wind up with whoever we want her to wind up with, but this show has always been about the women, all three generations of them, and that’s its magic. In putting too much emphasis on their men, we run the risk of losing sight of what the show’s all about. This is not to say that the Gilmore Girls have to be single in order to be the strong women we love, but it does help to remember that everything we love about the show will remain intact, no matter who the characters wind up with. The fact that this is possible for “Gilmore Girls” in a way that it probably wouldn’t be for many shows of a similar genre that rely on romance and the “shipping” of specific relationships says a lot about the show and its unique appeal. All in all, whatever happens, we have a few more hours with these eccentric people we grew up with, and we’d be best off trying to appreciate that gift for what it is.