Gilmore Girls – What’s So Special?

When rumors of a revival brought Gilmore Girls back into the public forum I, like many others, decided to see what all the fuss was about. It turns out, the hype surrounding this witty, cozy comedy-drama series, is well deserved.

Gilmore GirlsGilmore Girls is about a mother and a daughter who live in a picture-perfect town near Connecticut. The town, Stars Hollow, is filled with eccentric, yet lovable, characters who are ingrained into the daily happenings of each other’s lives. Contrary to the haven of home, the third Gilmore Girl, Emily – mother and grandmother — is the source of much frustration and stress.

Emily’s relationship with her daughter, Loralai, mother of Rory (short for Loralai, too) has always been a strained one, drastically magnified when Loralai becomes pregnant at the age of sixteen, subsequently leaving her privileged lifestyle in Hartford to raise her daughter alone.

The series begins sixteen years later, when Loralai approaches Emily and her father Richard to ask for a loan to fund Rory’s school fees. Rory has grown into a highly intelligent girl, who has fast outgrown Stars Hollow’s local high school, and has been accepted at the prestigious and privileged Chilton. As manager of an inn, Chilton’s fees are far from Loralai’s reach. In return for financial aid, Emily and Richard request that Loralai and Rory come to dinner every Friday night.

These Friday night dinners punctuate the seven series, witnessing the ever-evolving relationships within the family, successes and failures, love interests, wavering health and character development. The series ended with Rory entering the professional world as a journalist, covering Obama’s campaign trail for an online magazine, having graduated from Yale and rejecting a marriage proposal. Loralai runs an inn of her own and reunites with on-off partner, Luke, and Emily and Richard are much the same.

The revival, a four part mini-series aired on Netflix, begins ten years later. It stands on slightly wobbly foundations, due to original creator and writer, Amy Palladino’s, departure from the original series before the final season, after a disagreement with The CW Network. Amy had famously planned her characters’ evolvement, up until the final four words of the series. Nonetheless, the wayward season seven doesn’t seem to have affected her plotting too much.

gilmore girlsThe revival, ‘A Year in the Life’, sees the three ladies continue to navigate life’s changes. For Emily, the death of her husband. For Loralai, the death of her father and career crossroads. For Rory, the professional world and romantic entanglements. It is nostalgic and at the same time, a little off-center. The characters have changed, and are in some areas unrecognizable. The actors have changed, and struggle to encompass the characters we remember so fondly. The format has changed — from 45 minute, to 90 minute episodes with dramatic flourishes like musicals, and whimsical montages.

I wouldn’t advise watching Gilmore Girls for the revival; it was a welcome indulgent trip down memory lane, but failed to capture the magic of yesteryear. Watch Gilmore Girls for exactly that, its former magic. The original series is the hot chocolate of winter beverages, the Ugg slippers of footwear, the bedtime stories of childhood. It is warm, charming, cozy and fun. It shows that mothers and daughters can be the best of friends or… not, yet still inextricably linked. It shows that handsome men can fall in love with strong, educated women who dress modestly and avoid nightclubs in favor of classic literature. It shows that wealth is not equated with happiness, or necessary to achieve it.

For laughs, tears, intelligent babble, heart-pulling romance, eye-rolling camaraderie and small town charm, Gilmore Girls is well worth a watch.