Warning: Spoilers are ahead for the Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life episode “Winter.” If you haven’t watched it yet, get back into Luke’s Diner and have more coffee.
Pause for a minute. Enjoy a sip of joe. Take it all in. We’re back in Stars Hollow with Lorelai, Rory, Luke, Kirk, Emily, and all the rest. Netflix’s Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life is here. It’s been nine years since the original series ended, and I never really imagined we’d get a chance to go back and visit with our old friends. And that’s exactly what Netflix and series creator Amy Sherman-Palladino have done–they’ve dropped us back into the lives of the characters we love, and it’s like they’ve been there along. “Winter” put any concerns I had about the revival to rest.
The premiere of the four-part miniseries opened as it should: with a look at Stars Hollow. The quirky town is an integral part of Gilmore Girls, so it’s only fitting the gazebo in the middle of Stars Hollow is where we’d encounter Lorelai and Rory for the first time again. I swear, watching Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel on screen again was like putting on a pair of cozy slippers. Their fast-paced, pop culture-laden banter was a soothing balm for my soul. Yeah, I went with the cheesy statement. In some ways, it’s like no time has passed.
Then again, change was in the air. We learned Rory has had a successful writing career but is in between permanent gigs, living a freelancer lifestyle. She’s homeless, floating from one couch to the next–as Emily said, she’s like Llewyn Davis (don’t you go losing any cats, Rory! And maybe put all your boxes in the same place!). It’s a different Rory from the rigid, by-the-rules girl we knew from Chilton. She has a long-term boyfriend she forgets about, which is a funny gag I admit laughing over every time Paul came up, but dude, does anyone else feel sorry for the guy? Being selfish is one of Rory’s flaws, and it definitely applies to the Paul situation and her Vegas arrangement with Logan.
By the way: damn, does Logan look good. Real. Good. And he apparently has his shit together.
Actually, this initial episode caught us up all over the board. It had to. A stop by the Dragonfly Inn ran put us face to face with Michel (has he aged at all?!), who is now married and wrestling with his spouse’s desire to have children. It also brought us straight into the lack of Sookie problem. She left for a six month sabbatical and hasn’t returned. Roy Choi, a real life chef responsible for creating the Kogi taco truck, stops in as a chef putting on a two week pop-up menu at the Dragonfly, but Lorelai is over it. She’s not okay with Sookie being gone, and when she threw out Choi and his team during a flash-in-the-pan temper tantrum, she reminded me so very much of Emily.
What else did we learn around Stars Hollow? Luke and Lorelai are together and cohabitating but not wed. Lane and Zack are still married, the twins have grown up, and Hep Alien is still rocking. Paris and Doyle had kids but are on their way to or in the middle of a divorce, and Paris is a VIP at a surrogacy agency–she is very Paris, and it is glorious. We found out April is at MIT (of course), the town troubadour is crooning on corners, and Kirk is continuing to run every business and hold down every job. Oh, and he and Lulu haven’t broken up.
As fun as it was to check in with everybody, the emotion of the episode was between our Gilmore girls–they’re the heart of the series, after all. The passing of Edward Herrmann meant his character Richard Gilmore died, and his loss is a heavy presence in the show. It’s there in the massive portrait Emily commissioned, yes, but in more subtle ways too. When Lorelai and Rory visited Emily in present and Emily gave Lorelai an icy reception, a flashback took us four months back in time to the funeral.
It hurts to see Emily learning to live on her own. I can’t imagine being without the partner you’ve had by your side for 50 years. The funeral was a punch in the gut. And it wasn’t gratuitous. The funeral was a closure of sorts and a way to honor Herrmann. Plus, the wake gave Lorelai an opportunity to royally eff up and get into a screaming match with Emily. Their argument made me cringe. Have these two learned nothing? Their baggage is seemingly never going to get any lighter… unless this therapist ends up helping?
Back in the present, Emily and Lorelai are trying to get back to their normal. Lorelai helps Emily out of some KonMari danger with hard but real truths. It’s only been a few months since Emily lost Richard. It is not the time to pick through belongings and consider what sparks joy. Emily’s grief and struggles are obvious across the board, from the fact that she’s willing to don jeans to her being totally fine with unknown children running around her house. She hasn’t fired a maid in four months. This is not entirely the same Emily we knew, and she shouldn’t be. She’s in a state of transformation.
Overall, coming back to Gilmore Girls feels just right. The rhythm is the same, even if the dance steps have changed a little. The humor is definitely in the strike zone. My favorite gag was perhaps Luke giving everyone who asked fake wifi passwords. I’m sure Lorelai had to talk him into getting wifi in the first place. And can we all take a moment to applaud Taylor’s sewer system campaign?
Okay. We’re back in Stars Hollow. Tell me how you’re feeling. One of my big takeaways is Kirk is Prime Kirk, and I’m appreciating the national treasure that is Sean Gunn.