There’s a moment in the first five minutes of Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life, when fans settling in to binge-watch the reboot will suddenly know that everything is going to be okay.
Reboots are notoriously slippery things, defying the intentions of their original creators and the adoration of their fanbases to take on a life of their own. Sometimes, they work. The Christopher Nolan Batman films, Star Wars: Episode VII, the feminist rallying cry of last year’s Mad Max: Fury Road. But, the rest of the time, reboots can seem at best a superfluous cherry on top of the cake and, at worst, a waste of time. (Ghostbusters, we still love you, no matter what anyone says).
Excitement has been building for Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life, an ambitious four-episode miniseries on Netflix since the reboot was first announced in February.
The stakes were high: original showrunners Amy and Daniel Sherman-Palladino were back, after being unceremoniously ousted from the beloved show they created after the series’ sixth season in 2005, almost all of the original cast was returning, and this presented a chance to right the many perceived wrongs from the Gilmore Girls' seventh season, which Amy had always maintained never ended how she wanted it to.
(Since the pilot Amy had been plotting the final scene of the show and the last four words that they would contain, even shouting them into pillows when the secret got too much to bear, and rest assured the words are finally and satisfyingly uttered in Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life).
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Back to that first episode, those first five minutes, in which Lorelai waits for her daughter Rory in the picture perfect, snow-dusted Stars Hollow town square, clutching a super-sized takeaway cup of coffee.
Rory turns up, and it’s like the nine years since the pair have appeared onscreen together hasn’t passed at all. They volley pop culture references back and forth, the rapid-fire delivery the show made famous on full and glorious show.
“We haven’t done that in a while,” Lorelei says to her daughter, to which Rory replies: “Felt good.”
Doesn't it, just?
And for fans of the original – the teens who watched it week by week on Warner Bros, or even the more recent converts who have discovered it on boxsets and, later, Netflix – it really does feel good, your favourite outfit from a decade ago that still, miraculously, fits. The streaming service has pulled off something worth celebrating: getting the band back together with practically no drama at all.
(Excepting Melissa McCarthy – arguably the most famous Gilmore Girls alumnus – saying she had never been asked to go back to the reboot, despite her character Sookie St James being one of the show’s most beloved. Never fear: she’s back in A Year In The Life, and so are all your favourites, from Sean Gunn’s Kirk to Liza Weil’s Paris and Yanic Truesdale’s sardonic Michel.)
The overwhelming theme of the series is moving on. How do we live after the death of a loved one? Edward Hermann’s death in 2014 is an absence that is keenly felt in the series. It’s easy to forget how much emotional heft his Richard Gilmore lent the show's key familial relationships.
All three of the Gilmore girls’ struggles to come to terms with his death make for the reboot’s best acting and best storylines, especially Emily, who starts Marie Kondo-ing her life and finds what gives her joy is having a full household once again.
How do we let go of longheld dreams? Or, indeed, how do we make them happen, years after their supposed expiration date? How do we push ourselves out of our comfort zone when it comes to work? This is a storyline particularly applicable to Rory, whose freelance journalism career for swish titles like The New Yorker, Slate and The Atlantic, has ground to a halt, and she finds herself, like many 30-somethings before her, in stasis, back home, in Stars Hollow.
And how do we allow our relationships, the important ones, the ones that shape and define us, to evolve over time, for better or for worse, and maybe even evolve out of our lives? And should we? At what price change?
No spoilers, we promise. Because we want you to watch and enjoy and revel in it for the first time. But also because Netflix has made us sign a very detailed form about what can and cannot be revealed. You’ll hear nothing from us on the subject of Rory and her former flames Dean, Jess and Logan.
There’s a good reason the series has been shrouded in such secrecy. It’s one that has been created first and foremost for the fans.
If you’re coming new to Gilmore Girls you might not be as charmed by the strange, bizarre quirks of Stars Hollow, the animosity in Lorelai’s relationship with her mother, the machinations of Taylor Doose, the whirling dervish that is Paris Geller, whose character arc, involving sperm banks, Brooklyn brownstones and empty briefcases, might just be the best in the reboot. You might find some of the show’s close-mindedness – there’s a moment of fat-shaming that leaves a bad taste in the mouth – quaint. You might find that the episode lengths – 90 minutes – drag a little.
But if you’re a fan of the show that's not just a show - it's a lifestyle, it's a religion - none of that is going to matter. Because everything you loved about the original is preserved in this reboot.
It’s all there: the best mother-daughter relationship on TV, the dizzying array of pop culture winks and nods, the smart, self-awareness that ripples throughout the plot, the comforting way that Stars Hollow feels completely outside of time and place, something that we need now more than ever when it comes to our entertainment.
It’s a diversion – a town meeting that drags on for hours, complete with snacks. But, hey, what a diversion. Oy with the poodles already.
Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life streams on Netflix from 7PM on November 25. That’s tomorrow, you guys. Are you ready?