Ever since it was announced that the Gilmore Girls would be reviving the show for a four-part Netflix series, fans have been counting down the days until it was released. All seven seasons were re-watched in preparation, viewing parties were planned and long debates were had over which of Rory's fellas she should end up with.
At last, the day arrived, and as the opening credits rolled in, we were treated to a blast from the past of some of the show's most famous lines over the years. Suddenly we were back in the picturesque Stars Hollow, the crowds parted, and there was Lorelai drinking a coffee in the bandstand. This was it. This was what we had been waiting for - to return to Stars Hollow and go back to where it all began and bask in that lovely warm glow of nostalgia.
The reason we're hanging on this moment is because if you didn't feel all that in those opening minutes, then you should have turned off there and then because you were never going to enjoy this trip down memory lane. These six hours of television were not shy about being aimed exclusively at fans. Newbies will happily poke fun at it all day, and you know they're not necessarily wrong. It's cheesy... we know alright! Oy with the poodles already.
The four-part series saw each hour-and-a-half episode focusing on one season of the year, with winter kicking things off, and each instalment used as the perfect opportunity to decorate the quaint Stars Hollow accordingly. If New York was the fifth character in Sex and the City, Stars Hollow could surely be the third leading lady of the Gilmore Girls. Nothing on that show would work without the magical fairy lights of that town twinkling in the background and its bizarre mix of lovable characters. This is not the simple country town who gets ravished by murders in some Nordic Noir series, the biggest issues this lot face are a sewer system or septic tanks.
One concern we did have ahead of the series was that it would somehow end up coming across as a little too self-aware and delighted with itself, and honestly, the first 15 minutes were a bit like that. We were hit straight off the bat with some contrived fast-paced Lorelai and Rory dialogue and reminded in about ten different ways that the show was very clear it was 2016 now. It was like a neon light screaming "Look! We have smart phones, and WiFi passwords and we can record TV shows!". We get it, Stars Hollow has moved with the times too.
It wasn't until the story moved onto something real - the death of Richard Gilmore, that the show really came back into its own again. Edward Herrmann of course sadly passed away back in 2014, and the series couldn't have done a better job of handling his character's death. The seven-foot painting of him may have been tacky but that was only thing about the story that was. Lorelai and Emily's falling out at the funeral seemed a predictable, if childish, outcome for their tumultuous mother-daughter relationship but the real gem of this story line and indeed the whole revival series, was Emily Gilmore.
We had watched the character of Emily evolve over the initial seven seasons of Gilmore Girls, but this was really the first time she got to take centre stage, and man did she own it. No longer did we have this one-dimensional character whose only purpose was to serve as a complication in Lorelai and Rory's life, but instead, a woman who went on her own journey of self-discovery through grief, that to be honest, was far more interesting than her daughter's ill-fated 'Wild' trip.
Speaking of, so how were our Gilmore Girls doing? One of the main talking points ahead of the series was who Rory would end up with, but after all that, her love life was a complete shambles, dating a guy she could barely remember existed and having an affair with her engaged ex Logan. Life was not exactly going they way the young Gilmore girl had planned, in every aspect.
The ambitious Rory we once knew seemed deflated with the world of journalism, and her career had failed to reach the great heights she had imagined. The cruel reality of this was not something we would have expected from Gilmore Girls, although the situation was poked fun at with the 30-somethings gang of Stars Hallow. We get the point here, life doesn't always work out the way we want, but come on, if Rory Gilmore can't make it professionally, what hope is there for the rest of us?
Lorelai then, arguably, had a pretty lovely life going. Yes, she was grieving her father and missing Suki, but you know, overall, happy out. That was until some utterly bizarre never-ending musical came along which resulted in her questioning her life choices. Seriously, what was the story with the musical? It went on for an AGE, and was totally unnecessary viewing. We were close to packing up our bags and pulling a Wild just to make it stop. We don't know if it was self-indulgence, a lack of any real story to fill that episode or if the writers genuinely believed this would be something of value to the show, but it really should have been left on the editing room floor.
Luke, meanwhile, as much as we were happy to see him, had morphed into somewhat a caricature of himself, looking slightly ridiculous in his signature baseball cap and check shirt. Any fan will tell you that the 'will they/won't they' relationship between Luke and Lorelai was a huge draw for the show back in the day, but their chemistry this time round seemed a little flat. Fair enough, they were after spending a decade or so together at this point, but not enough time was spent on really looking at how their relationship had evolved. Why didn't they give us some nice little flashback of their last nine years together instead of that headache of a musical? At least we may have been given more of an idea as to why Lorelai suddenly seemed so desperate to get away from him.
As was known before, the majority of the original cast returned, with old favourites like Kirk and Michel happily stealing scenes. Although we would have loved some of the regulars to have stuck around longer. Suki's cameo was one of our favourite parts of the entire four episodes, while Rory literally just bumped into Dean in the supermarket. These two have become bigger stars now, we know, but still, it would have been great to have seen more of them, as impractical as that may have been.
And then we come to the famous 'Four Final Words', as things came so full circle we were almost hit in the head with the gigantic bow they were wrapping things up with. However this is the ending that writer Amy Sherman-Palladino wanted all those years ago, before the show was sadly cancelled too soon. Maybe it would have felt like a fitting conclusion then, now however, we wanted more. Does this mean the great Rory Gilmore is destined to live out her remaining days within the confines of Stars Hollow mirroring the life her mother had? With visits from daddy Logan to spice things up every so often? Sigh, we wanted more for her. Everyone wanted more for her.
Saying all of this though, despite the questionable ending, those weird set pieces and an overall story line that could have probably been squeezed into half the amount of time; a binge watch of new Gilmore Girls was exactly what the doctor ordered in this sorry excuse for a year. Criticising it at all sort of feels like poking a baby deer. Gilmore Girls may be safe, it may be predictable but it was the warm comforting hug we all needed this November.
Here's the crux of it, this show isn't about meth labs in New Mexico or street gangs in Baltimore, sure, the Gilmore Girls had their boundary pushing moments, but we never watched it for a master class in television, we watched it because we enjoyed the world we got to live in while it was on. As much as those Gilmore Girls love their coffee, we all know it's the hot chocolate of TV shows.
Will it be back again for another run? Probably. Will we be glued to it once more? Definitely.