This review is from the first two episodes of the new Gilmore Girls season titled A Year In The Life made available to critics.
Full disclosure : Up until earlier this year I had never experienced the magic of the Gilmore Girls, my fellow gay friends were shocked that I had never seen it and insisted that I immediately binge all 7 seasons available on Netflix. I did this in the space of a couple of months and have discovered that my life has been enriched by the smart and clever writing combined with the typical small town tropes and intriguing characters that make this show what I am going to say is THE best written television show of all time. Putting my bias aside here is my review of the first two episodes of A Year In The Life.
From the opening monologue spoken by Lorelai Gilmore (Lauren Graham) complete with long winded phrases and pop.culture references, fans immediately will be drawn back into the charming town of Stars Hollow. It has been 9 long years since we last left the Gilmore Girls and in this first sequence in the new season it feels like nothing has changed.
Netflix have successfully revamped the WB series with original screenwriter Amy Sherman-Palladino to bring four new 90 minute long specials to the streaming service and although the cast may look a little older, some skinnier, the razor sharp wit and classic characters are still intact in providing a fitting end to the series that left a lot of questions unanswered in its surprise final season back in 2007.
The four episodes are broken down into seasons Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall. Each episode takes you through a journey of the lives of Lorelai and Rorey (Alexis Bledel) as they struggle with the death of the late great Richard Gilmore (Edward Herrmann) and how Emily Gilmore (Kelly Bishop) deals with her life after he is gone. To put it simply if you are already emotionally invested in these characters, bring a box of tissues (or several if you are a big girl like me!) with some comfort food (the girls demand chinese of course!) and red wine as required.
We join Lorelai and Rorey in winter as they are at a turning point in their lives. Lorelai has settled into life running the inn and being an empty nester, Rorey is an accomplished freelance journalist with articles in The New Yorker and The Atlantic and has reached a point in her life where she is deciding exactly what it is she want’s to do. Lorelai and Emily are at a point in their life with Richard’s passing that the buffer that stood between them is now removed and they are forced to reevaluate their relationship and the writers unashamedly delve into that with some extremely tense and awkward moments help this season prove in two episodes why it was needed.
The lengthy flashback to Richard’s funeral and wake is hands down the best written twenty minutes of television. The gravity of the situation and the tension between Lorelai and Emily reaches boiling point and unresolved issues from their past are brought to light with no buffer to intervene. It is well scripted, sharp and brings out the best performances from Graham and Bishop that the show has ever produced.
It’s not all serious though, Stars Hollow is still littered with colourful characters and they are not watered down this season. Kirk still has numerous startup business ventures he is trying his hand at, Luke’s ever changing passwords at the diner, Taylor running around trying to improve Stars Hollow is still as entertaining as ever, and with some fresh ideas up his sleeve it helps balance the serious tone that this bold new direction takes.
Your favourite characters are all back. Miss Patty, Lane, the town trubadore and Paris as well as some impressive celebrity cameos and an expanded storyline for Michel (Yanic Truesdale) that a lot of fans have been asking for and will not be disappointed.
Although time has passed since we first left Stars Hollow, the move to Netflix boasts a more mature and deep approach to this world that has captured the hearts of so many around the world. The brilliant writing and performances cannot be stressed enough, there are plenty of jaw dropping moments that peel back more layers on this characters. Even if you have never seen an episode of the Gilmore Girls before you will easily fall in love with this world and an amazing near 8 seasons of this show await you. Gilmore Girls : A Year In The Life is a triumph in television and in two episodes embodies the best made television of 2016.
Gilmore Girls : A Year In The Life is available exclusively on Netflix November 25.
Review by Alaisdair Leith