Gilmore Girls Review: Just Like You Remember, and Exactly What You Need

grade_A-We could all use a trip back to Stars Hollow right about now, huh?

No matter how you feel about the direction our country’s headed in, we can all agree that the world’s gotten a little bit colder and a little less certain than it was when Gilmore Girls went off the air in 2007. And so Netflix’s revival of the beloved family dramedy (debuting next Friday, Nov. 25) is perfectly timed TV comfort food — a faithful reproduction of the quirky, cozy vibe we fell in love with. But it’s also not afraid to push its characters towards new, sometimes painful realizations. Because nothing ever stays quite the same… even in Stars Hollow.

A Year in the Life (the official subtitle for the Netflix revival) consists of four 90-minute installments, each twice as long as a typical Gilmore Girls episode. But each is surprisingly well-paced… especially since there’s so much to fit in. The town of Stars Hollow remains a quaint throwback that’s seemingly frozen in time — Miss Patty’s still teaching dance; Taylor’s still an annoying busybody; Kirk’s still a weirdo — but the dialogue is peppered with up-to-date references to the Kardashians, Game of Thrones and man-buns. The typically clever, rapid-fire Gilmore banter is super charged here, as if creator Amy Sherman-Palladino has been gathering one-liners for years and finally found a place to put them.

Gilmore Girls Revival Review

 

But the revival also finds the three main Gilmore girls — Lorelai, Rory and Emily — all in various states of crisis. Lorelai (Lauren Graham) is happily living with Luke (Scott Patterson), but she starts to feel strangely unfulfilled. Despite having some success in journalism, daughter Rory (Alexis Bledel) finds herself jobless and homeless, and not exactly sure where she fits in this world. (As Lane puts it, “This adult stuff is hard, isn’t it?”) And mother Emily (Kelly Bishop) is reeling from the death of her husband Richard, trading in her usual country-club attire for jeans and T-shirts and suddenly developing a foul mouth. (She’s not on network TV anymore, after all.)

This hint of melancholy is appreciated, because it’s tempting with TV reunions like this to make everything happy and cheerful. But these women are still growing, still discovering who they are, and inevitably butting heads in the process. Graham and Bishop, in particular, have some intense scenes together, including a nasty, gloves-off argument in the immediate wake of Richard’s death that cuts right to the bone. This revival isn’t afraid to go dark and get real when it needs to, and that emotional honesty underlines why we love Gilmore Girls in the first place.

That said, GG: A Year in the Life is a hell of a lot of fun, too. Nearly every fan-favorite character from the original series reappears to give us an update on their lives. (I’m happy to report that we see plenty of Paris Geller.) And they’re joined by an array of delightful guest stars, who I wouldn’t dream of revealing here. We get to see Stars Hollow again in all its eccentric glory, and even learn things we never knew about the town. (Like, that it has… a secret bar?!) And the tone throughout is patient and laid-back; this revival truly feels like a continuation of the original series, rather than a rehash.

And at the heart of it, as always, are the three Gilmore ladies. The Emmys infamously ignored Gilmore Girls during its run, but it’d be a high crime if these actresses weren’t recognized this time around. (Bishop, especially, is long overdue for a Supporting Actress nomination.) Balancing witty repartee with gut-wrenching conflict isn’t easy, but they make it look effortless. Losing the late Edward Herrmann as Richard was a devastating blow, both to the characters and the series, but the trio of Graham, Bledel and Bishop really do him proud by shining here.

There’s something perfect about A Year in the Life debuting on Thanksgiving weekend. Gilmore Girls was about a lot of things — coffee, love triangles, talking fast — but it was ultimately always about family. So it feels right that as we gather to give thanks with our loved ones this year, we can all sit down together and enjoy this very successful revival of one of TV’s all-time great series. A sequel that actually exceeds our expectations? Now that’s something to be thankful for.

THE TVLINE BOTTOM LINE: With sparkling banter and surprising emotional depth, Netflix’s Gilmore Girls revival is everything we hoped for.  

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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31 Comments
  1. I’m going to die laughing if Emily Gilmore drops the “f” bomb at some point (God, I hope they all say it at least a few times, especially since the show’s on Netflix now). And now I’m even more excited for next Friday! This sounds like it’s going to be amazing.

  2. TJ says:

    I have to admit I got a little choked up reading this review. 8 Days 14 hours to go!

  3. Katey says:

    You say Emily develops a foul mouth… Is there more profanity in this incarnation? I’d like to watch it while visiting family, but there will be children around. Should I plan on shielding little ears?

    I thought I recalled ASP saying in an interview that she didn’t want to change the feel/tone of the show by adding more profanity, but I know a lot of people have been pushing for it so she may have given in.

    • sarah t says:

      I kind of hope there isn’t any language. The show doesn’t need it. The characters were witty enough on their own, even though it’s no longer a WB show, I think it’s fine to keep it PG.

    • Caa says:

      She probably says “ship” or something. I doubt they drop F bombs constantly.

    • Gospino says:

      Swearing would be against the spirit of the show, IMO, and I hope they don’t go that way. Why would viewers want swearing anyway?

    • Marcie says:

      I really hope there isn’t any strong profanity. I originally watched it with my 6-year-old daughter, and it carried us through her teen years in DVDs. It was such a sweet aspect of our relationship. I would hope other mothers/daughters could do the same.

      • Jess says:

        Sorry to break it to you guys but people curse. And no matter what you do and where you go what tv shows you watch, your kids are gonna hear these words. So what if some F bombs are dropped? It’s how people talk. It’s a normal part of pop culture. No, the show doesn’t need any curse words but for the sake of comedy and drama, they’re valuable.

        • Katey says:

          But not everyone talks this way. I grew up not hearing that word until the 6th grade, and I’m only 31.

          Entertainment doesn’t NEED the F-word to be good. There are certain contexts where it isn’t appropriate, and if they’re trying to sell this as a family-targeted show, this is one of those contexts.

          Also, it was great without that kind of language before. I hope they didn’t change the spirit of the show and the world they created.

          • S. says:

            It’s Amy’s show and Amy cusses like a sailor on shore leave. It wasn’t the spirit of the show at all to not swear, it was standards and practices. She doesn’t control marketing so she’s hardly responsible for how anybody’s selling this, and even if she did, I don’t agree that non-swearing and family-targeted are synonymous. In real life, a lot of people swear. A person isn’t of lesser character for swearing and it’s been proven that people who swear also tend to have greater vocabularies in general. I’d rather raise kids to be anti-censorship than anti-swearing. I also don’t think swearing has to necessarily affect the tone of the show. I absolutely see some of the characters as the types to swear and do so heartily.

      • dude says:

        Your 6 year-old can hear the F word and her life won’t change.

  4. Such an amazing review. I am so, so ready.

  5. southernsoapopera says:

    But what did Michael Ausiello think? That’s whose opinion I want to know the most!!!

  6. JosiahBartlet4President says:

    I didn’t read the review because I want to be surprised. But the A- gives me hope. And I could use hope in any form right now.

  7. jj. says:

    after reading through this and watching Michael Ausiello’s facebook video I don’t know how I could be looking forward to this revival any more. I’m so glad that it is being well received

  8. Boop says:

    Kelly Bishop should have gotten an Emmy a long, long time ago. A true Emmy crime that she didn’t during GG’s original run.

  9. Mia says:

    I dont want them to say f words, I don’t care where the show airs, I want it to be faithful to the series and they never cursed, it would majorly throw me off if they started to. I’m ok with it if it’s just one dramatic moment for Emily, or a punch line, like an out of character thing, but I don’t wanna be taken out of the show by the change in language. But anyway, i’m sooooooooooooo excited!!!

  10. neetztalks says:

    reading this review makes me laugh and want to cry at the same time. gilmore girls holds such a special place in my heart. it makes my birthday week 100x more special.

  11. toneeye says:

    They’ve always had a bar. Christopher and Jackson had their man-date at a bar. Chris was drinking at the bar when he saw Luke on the square and they had Merry Fisticuffs amongst the Christmas decorations. TJ’s bachelor party was at a bar. The first two, at least, were the same bar.

  12. sportylady says:

    Is it any wonder Lorelei feels unfulfilled? Luke’s a nice guy, but he’s stuck where he’s at. Lorelei was always interested in life. Luke was just–boring.

    • Snoots57 says:

      Take that back! ;-)

    • Leah says:

      I couldn’t agree with you more. I never liked Luke for Laura. They were ok as friends, but not as more. Luke was boring and when they were together did not treat her well. It isn’t even an opposites thing because they don’t even balance each other out. I wish she would have met a man that could meet her moxie. Even Christopher was a better fit for her than Luke. Luke and Laura are unequally yolked.

      • sportylady says:

        IMO, Max was the only man of the bunch who pushed Lorelei to grow and challenged her.

        Same with Rory and Jess. When she dropped out of Yale, it wasn’t Logan or Dean who pushed her back to her dreams, it was Jess.

  13. AngD says:

    It seems like forever til next week!

  14. Luli says:

    So glad we’ll have plenty ¨Paris Geller!! She was hilarious, and one of my fav characters!

  15. Addy Carrero says:

    ABSOLUTELY LOVE the new season… CAN’T wait for more!!!