I’m sitting at a combination diner/ bakery in Humboldt park. They’re playing “Brown Eyed Girl” on the static overhead speakers and there are silhouettes of flowers stenciled in gold on the blush-painted walls. Curled up in a corner booth with an iced coffee (complete with a pink-striped paper straw), I think what always seems to pop into my head whenever I am somewhere that can be loosely described as cozy: Oh shit! This is just like “Gilmore Girls!”
So yes, much like the girl you went to high school with who always wore Northface, or your mom’s friend from her adult pottery class, I am one of those people who is losing their mind over the news of the “Gilmore Girls” revival, which aired as a four-part miniseries on Netflix, November 25.
“Gilmore Girls” ran on the WB from 2000 to 2007. The show, classified as dramedy, follows the lives of Lorelai (Lauren Graham) and Rory Gilmore (Alexis Bledel) — a mother/ daughter team unlike any other. Lorelai and Rory make sharp cultural references and live a charmed small-town, blue-collar life; meanwhile, they also must navigate the overtly bourgeois world of Lorelai’s parents (as well as Rory’s snooty prep school).
The show itself thrives on a sort of quaint, magical realism which manifests itself via an endless supply of takeout containers in the fridge and quirky, caring neighbors. In order to fully enjoy “Gilmore Girls,” one must be prepared to accept that the show is partially an escapist fantasy; nothing in life is as thoroughly ensconced in twinkle lights as Stars Hollow, and that’s part of what makes the show so enjoyable. To give in to the world of the “Gilmore Girls” is to suspend disbelief and snuggle up in your favorite sweater — a task that isn’t mind numbing as it is utterly soothing. For all the classist/racist/ heteronormative frustrations of “Gilmore Girls” (Really, Rory? Your foray into petty theft is to steal a yacht? Lorelai, you essentially have a cushion of money/ mom to fall back on. And are there no people of color in Stars Hollow?) the show is incredibly smart. The dialogue is famed for being lightning quick, and series creator Amy Sherman-Palladino is an expert at sneaking a pop culture reference into nearly every beat.Simone De Beauvoir’s “The Second Sex” and “The Brady Bunch Variety Hour” on VHS are both treated with equal amounts of love.
Rory is a literary titan; Buzzfeed published a list of all 339 texts referenced throughout the show’s seven seasons. The list itself is formidable, encompassing both classic authors like Kafka, and the anthology of famed ‘zine “Punk Planet.”
Jess (Milo Ventimiglia), annotates Rory’s copy of “Slaughterhouse Five” thus inciting a crush that rivals Rory’s love for her wholesome softball-loving boyfriend Dean (Jared Padalecki).
As, cultural critic as Maryelizabeth Hart points out, “Rory’s relationships with others are heavily influenced by her reading practices.”
The combination of speed and the sheer quantity of references makes it feel as though every viewing is a surprise, keeping viewers engaged without instigating the stress of, say, “Game of Thrones.”
Visually, the show brings forth the same nostalgic early aughts glow of trips to Blockbuster Video. It extolls the values of small town communities through literal town meetings, full of plenty of quirky locals. The value of early aughts Americana is exemplified by the perfect burger and fries at Luke’s Diner.
It should be noted that a love of coffee is central to “Gilmore Girls,” so much so that Netflix turned 250 neighborhood coffee shops across the country into Luke’s Diner for the day in order to celebrate the 16th anniversary of the “Gilmore Girls” pilot, as well as the series revival.
Ultimately, Gilmore Girls” is comforting. It’s been featured on lists of shows to watch when one is depressed or anxious. It acts as a calming salve in an otherwise unforgiving world. So, when people complain that “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life” is just a same-old-same-old extension of the original series, they’re missing the point. There’s approximately seven new hours of “Gilmore Girls” to stress-watch, and the fact that I am able to type that sentence is a gift.
To say that this year has been rough is an understatement. I offer that maybe we all just need to curl up with Lauren Graham and company for a 90-minute spell or so — a chance to relax and reconvene with characters that seem more like beloved friends than tropes. Stars Hollow is nothing if not, friendly — everyone is welcome and they will be given a complimentary welcome wagon and cup of coffee upon entering.
Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life is now streaming on Netflix