KELLY VAUGHAN ’17
This past Friday, Nov. 25, a day traditionally noted as Black Friday, a time for stores to promote slightly better sales than usual to increase traffic and consumption of their holiday products, was important to consumer culture in another way- it was “Gilmore Girls” day. Netflix released a four-part special revival series of the popular CW, and later WB show, titled “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life.” These mini-movies were subsequently named after each season, Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall. Some fans, who perhaps grew up directly alongside one of the show’s protagonist Gilmore’s – Rory – filling out college applications and sharing first loves at the same time watched the show for a sense of nostalgia. Others, however, may have spent the past three weeks binge-watching the show to catch up on what the hype was about in order to participate in a momentous cultural experience of 2016.
The revival was written by Amy Sherman-Palladino and Dan Palladino, who wrote the first six seasons of the original show but due to contract negotiations, did not sign on to finish off the series for the final seventh season. The revival series was not only a chance for the fans to get their second, and possibly final fix, of their beloved show, but a chance for the writers to finish the story the way they always wanted. Netflix has been in the habit of releasing revival series of once popular TV shows with cult-like followings; earlier this year, the streaming service produced “Fuller House,” a modern day spin off of the 90s sitcom “Full House,” which is currently in its second season. This cult following was evident in events sprinkled throughout the months leading up to the revival. In October, Trinity’s own Peter B’s Espresso participated in “Luke’s Diner Day.” 200 coffee shops across the country rebranded as the show’s staple diner, serving coffees not in an I.V. as Lorelei Gilmore once requested, but in branded cups and coffee sleeves. Fans of the show from all across the state visited campus to take part in the experience and to express their excitement for the return of their favorite mother-daughter duo.
Instead of watching Rory stress about getting accepted to Harvard, or about her entrance into the world of journalism upon her enrollment and arrival at Yale University, fans saw Rory stress in a familiar, yet seemingly hyperbolic way. For a woman that once seemed to have the next five years of her life planned, she begins to crumble during season seven and doesn’t seem to find her way through national newsmagazines and papers. Despite having one successful article published in The New Yorker, Rory struggles to impress editors at Conde Nast or even the fictional “Sandee Says,” a start up gossip website that Rory apprehensively interviews for.
The show continues to deal with the themes that originally appeared in the show – socioeconomic divides between Lorelei and her mother Emily, empowerment for independent, self-sufficient women, and a unique closeness and comfort between a mother-daughter team. “A Year in the Life,” however, doesn’t seem to manage these topics in a refreshing or positive way. Even though Lorelei happily maintains Luke as her partner, to which her mother discredits as nothing more than a roommate, Rory is still tied down to decade old ex-boyfriends and fails to keep a steady repository of publishers and editors as she attempts to succeed as a freelance journalist. When she fails to impress the cosmetic and depthless Sandee of the fictional “Sandee Says,” Rory resorts to editing the Stars Hallow Gazette after learning at the infamous town meetings that the paper is going to be shut down.
“Gilmore Girls” tries to keep up with the pop culture references of 2016 but much like 2016 itself, fails to keep up with the trends. Conflicts like sharing the WiFi password at Luke’s Diner, Lorelei’s hiking retreat inspired by Cheryl Strayed’s novel “Wild,” or Emily Gilmore’s uncomfortable Kohl’s brand “Candies” t-shirt fail to seem as witty, clever, and sui generis as fans experienced in the original. The exception to this was the quirky yet loved Kirk – a man of really, truly many trades – who insisted upon his original business idea, “Ooo-ber,” a clear and intentional knock off of the billion-dollar car service company, Uber.
The final episode of the revival ended on a cliffhanger, making fans plea for more from Sherman-Palladino. What is the show’s ultimate purpose? Does Sheman-Palladino reinforce an age old cliché of “Home is Where the Heart Is?” Is she simply giving fans one last figurative cup of Luke’s coffee to hold on to before retreating to Emily Gilmore’s Nantucket getaway home for good, or is it a preview into a fuller look at the next chapters of the Gilmore girls? Is it fair to compare the revival to the original at all? Only time will tell…and until then, fans will continue to binge-watch the revival over and over again.