Netflix’s ‘Gilmore Girls’ revival feels like going home

The Girls are back.
Julie Seabaugh

Three and a half stars

Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life Netflix, November 25.

"It’s so good to be home,” says Rory Gilmore (Alexis Bledel) in the opening scene of Netflix’s Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. Particularly for fans dreading political conversation around the Thanksgiving table, this much-anticipated revival series emphasizes adopted community as chosen family. In Rory’s native Stars Hollow, Connecticut, the most pressing civic turmoil pits septic tanks against a sewer system, and neighbors embrace rather than recoil from their colorful differences.

Onscreen and off, nine years have passed since the beloved mother-daughter dramedy limped through a lackluster seventh season following the CW’s dismissal of creator and exec producer Amy Sherman-Palladino. Now back at the helm, she delivers four 90-minute installments, the first two of which see Rory’s journalism career and love life stalling out at age 32. Overcaffeinated innkeeper Lorelai Gilmore (Lauren Graham) finds domestic bliss with diner owner Luke (Scott Patterson), tightening the pull of opportunities she forewent as a young single parent, while newly widowed Emily Gilmore (Kelly Bishop) faces a future without husband Richard (the late Edward Herrmann).

As with Netflix’s Fuller House, nostalgia dictates a precise style and tone. The Gilmores’ characteristic patter assesses everything from Skrillex and comfort dogs to ride-sharing and hitting one’s daily steps. And like Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp, fan fulfillment rests heavily on the return of beloved cast members. Prominent townsfolk, classmates and exes are happily accounted for, though a few register as mere checklist blips. Others, including Liza Weil’s uptight Paris Geller, are shoehorned into uncharacteristic subplots, but these missteps are overcome by quips like, “I’m organizing my magazines by Kardashian” and an updated Luke’s Diner rule list prohibiting “Texting while ordering, man buns, taking pictures of food.”

Sherman-Palladino and company meet expectations by positioning familiarity as a jumping-off point rather than an end goal. As a result, A Year in the Life proves—in true Gilmore fashion—that the most challenging do-overs often offer the greatest rewards.

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