When the inn-keeper kissed the diner owner and the aspiring journalist took off to follow a presidential candidate on his campaign trail in 2007, hearts of fans everywhere soared. The characters of the American television show Gilmore Girls had finally found their happily ever afters in the final episode after eight seasons. Bidding a bitter-sweet adieu to the women known for rapping out conversations peppered with popular culture references almost seemed worth it. But Gilmore Girls would be nothing if it didn’t keep it real. A lifetime of happily ever afters lies ahead, and the show’s creator, Amy Sherman-Palladino, explores just that in Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life.
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A decade later, four one-and-a-half-hour long episodes of the popular series have been released on Netflix. Each episode corresponds to a season and follows a year in the lives of the now middle-aged Lorelai Gilmore (still running the Dragonfly Inn and going steady with Luke), played by Lauren Graham, and her daughter, Rory, played by Alexis Bledel. Rory is 32 years old and still on the brink of journalistic success.
Along with the main women, most of the cast members have made it back. They have receding hairlines and more wrinkles, but are still as familiar as friends we haven’t seen in a while. The more popular ones come in for a cameo. The series also brings in actors from Bunheads, Sherman-Palladino’s other show that only saw one season.
The opening scene of A Year In The Life is like a warm hug as the viewers are welcomed back to Stars Hollow, a fictional town in Connecticut. The charm and the quirkiness of the town, as much a character in the show as its residents, have not diminished. Stars Hollow remains preserved in a bubble even as the real world changes around it. The show opens with Lorelai waiting for Rory on the steps of the town gazebo with, what else, but a large coffee (because wherever the Gilmore girls go, coffee follows) and she can smell snow. So magic is not far.
The mini-series finds the Gilmore girls, including the regal Emily Gilmore (mother and grandmother to the protagonists), dealing with various situations. Lorelai is on a quest to find herself, Rory is leading a “Jack Kerouac” like nomadic existence, shuttling between London, New York City and Stars Hollow in search of the perfect job and Emily is figuring out who she is and seems to have finally found a maid who is sticking around.
The year that Sherman-Palladino seems to have chosen is a sad one. Lorelai has retained her sassiness, but with age has become more vulnerable and susceptible to emotional breakdowns. Rory, once full of ambition, is now directionless, clinging on to writing assignments she doesn’t want. Luke and his diner are mostly the same, but he seems to have given in and allowed phones and other gadgets. He seems to be waging a war against “man buns” now. But A Year In The Life Of leaves no doubts about one thing – it is Lorelai’s show through and through.
Rory is forever going to bear the label of the “one that got away” for every man who has come within 10 feet of her. A Year in the Life is not kind to Rory’s character, following her as she makes some very questionable decisions. However, she might just redeem herself the next time Gilmore Girls rises from the ashes, because the much wondered about last words of the last episode, the ones that Sherman-Palladino had decided on even before season 8 ended, have been spoken and nobody is resting easy till they get more information.
Significant plot developments keeps the story moving along organically. The witty banter between all the characters keeps you smiling, with pop culture references having been upgraded to include quips about Marvel movies and Lena Dunham. The dialogue, though, lacks the originality of the previous seasons, which gave us gems like “Oy with the poodles already”, “My leg is haunted”, or the ever favourite “hockey puck, rattlesnake, monkey monkey underpants”.
The show is coming back a little more emotional and a little more Hollywood, thanks to the several song and dance sequences with close-ups of the starry eyed leads looking their best, which is a departure from the first eight seasons. There might be twinges of disappointment because despite solid efforts, the show feels different. But as much as we might hate to admit it, it has been 10 years since we last saw them, and they have evolved.