How The Gilmore Girls Revival Tried Too Hard To Be Hip & Lost The Nostalgia Factor

Photo: Netflix
The Gilmore Girls revival boasts many familiar things. The lovely, loyal-to-a-fault relationship between Rory and Lorelai, rapid-fire dialogue, and, of course, the perfect Emily Gilmore are as present as ever in Netflix's A Year In The Life. Yet despite the surface-level similarities, A Year In The Life doesn't quite feel like the same show I remembered, re-watched, and yearned for more of. Instead, the revival is a strange, name-dropping, up-to-the-minute pop-culture-referencing version of this beloved family drama — one that strips away much of the nostalgia that had me so eager to tune in.

I blame Uber. Or rather, "Ooo-ber." It's one of the first bits from "Winter," the first episode in the series, and it is grating. In the episode, Kirk, still forever the Stars Hollow weirdo, starts a ride-share service that's almost the same as Uber (but worse, considering it's just Kirk, and customers must phone his mother). The joke falls flat, and not just because Kirk's pet pig steals the show in nearly every scene they share. It's because, suddenly, Gilmore Girls is attempting to become a "cool mom" of shows: It tries so hard to be relevant, a fact that is painfully obvious to its audience.

I am aware that Gilmore Girls was always pop-savvy. However, the revival felt different than the witty banter of the show's previous seasons. Back then, the references never felt like they had the potential to date the show. Perhaps that's because Rory was an old soul and Lorelai was, well, older. Literature was referenced as much as obscure '80s movies, but rarely did the show ever venture into "trend" territory. Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life, on the other hand, tries to cram every trend of the past 10 years — but really, more like only the past two years — into the show's four 90-minute episodes.

The result kind of feels like Amy Sherman-Palladino reached into a bag full of pop culture headlines and pulled out references at random. Tori Spelling's 2015 Benihana incident warranted a jokey spin, despite the fact that I, as an entertainment journalist, had to Google it to find out what it even was. Both Halt And Catch Fire (still popular?) and Hamilton (so popular, even the president-elect has thoughts) are mentioned. Lena Dunham inexplicably gets called out more than once, though it's not all that surprising, considering the A Year In The Life trailer featured a bizarre "Amy Schumer loves water sports" bit.

And then there's the irritating plot point that is Sandee Says, a website headed by CEO and Worst Millennial Ever Sandee Martin, who introduces old-school journalist Rory to the wide world of the new web. This includes an open floor plan, a lack of company hierarchy, and a grossly smug attitude about becoming bigger than the Huffington Post. In fact, it's Sandee who echoes the problem of the whole show: It tries so hard to be "now," it fails to connect.

I get the pressure. The tightrope between the "now" and the "then" is challenging to walk. The Gilmore Girls revival certainly has its merits (I mentioned the pig, right?) but if you were to ask me to pick between binging on reruns and checking in on a 32-year-old Rory, I would much rather relate to the former.
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