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New Gilmore Girls is like cold pizza: It is good, because it’s pizza

It’s good to be back in Stars Hollow, the fictional town the original Gilmore Girls was set in, but it’s not quite the same.

Then and now: Rory and Lorelai are their coffee-wielding, fast-talking selves, but the Gilmore Girls reboot on Netflix is missing some magic, Jessica Allen writes.

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Then and now: Rory and Lorelai are their coffee-wielding, fast-talking selves, but the Gilmore Girls reboot on Netflix is missing some magic, Jessica Allen writes.

I headed straight to the grocery store on Friday after work to pick up provisions for devouring the new Gilmore Girls miniseries on Netflix. Judging from the congestion in the baked goods aisle — and the lack of Pop Tarts — others had the same idea.

And judging from social media chatter and online think-pieces, there’s near consensus: the four-episode-long A Year In the Life is a little like cold pizza. It is good, because it’s pizza. Sometimes cold pizza even tastes better than hot pizza. But it’s still…cold pizza.  

In other words, it’s good to be back in Stars Hollow, the fictional town the original series was set in, but it’s not quite the same.

Although the title characters, Lorelai and Rory Gilmore, are still wearing their circa-2003 getups: flared jeans and knee-high boots with jersey wrap dresses finished off with cropped jean jackets. And they still wildly gesticulate while holding empty extra-large takeout coffee cups.

But complaining, a sport conducted around water coolers on Monday morning, is half the fun: Why did the show’s creator, Amy Sherman-Palladino, let her husband and collaborator Daniel include that musical interlude? That was 10 valuable minutes that could’ve been spent on a shirtless Jess (one of Rory’s love interests, played by Milo Ventimiglia), or on Rory’s best friend Paris Geller, whose meltdown in her old private school’s washroom is the funniest in the miniseries, or explaining what happened to all those wedding cakes that Lorelai’s sidekick and colleague Sookie made.

These are observations from a novice. My partner Simon and I started watching the original series, which aired from 2000 to 2007, just two years ago. He’d convinced me to give Nymphomaniac, the four-and-a-half-hour sex apocalypse by the premier poet of cinematic doom Lars von Trier, a go. He fell asleep 20 minutes in. When he woke I was 10 minutes into the pilot of Gilmore Girls. It was a long winter.

I’m actually envious of the die-hard fans, including many who have seen the entire series six or seven times. They tend to be young women who watched the show with their parents when it aired. Their repeat visits to Stars Hollow, where not much goes wrong, are steeped in nostalgia. (That same sense of comfort and security was provided by the Anne of Green Gables miniseries for me: And by the by, Jess is basically cribbing from Gilbert Blythe when he tells Rory that she really ought to write what she knows.)

Three young women at my office actually said they went to journalism school because Rory Gilmore did. Another said that whenever she re-watches now, the cultural references that were famously packed into the original series resonate more deeply.

The reboot is swimming in such references. There’s pop — think Kardashians, Game of Thrones and Goop — and high brow films like the Coen Brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis, David Lynch’s Eraserhead, and Paul Mazursky’s An Unmarried Woman, which Kelly Bishop, who plays Gilmore matriarch Emily, was actually in back in 1978.

Speaking of the Gilmore grandmother, she’s given the best story arc, the best wardrobe and the best lines. After Richard, her husband of 50 years, suddenly dies, she realizes her big house, the country club and the Daughters of the Revolution are all nonsense.

“I can’t spend any more time on artifice and bulls---,” she says. When she moves to Nantucket and buys a house the previous owners named “Clam Shack,” she says, “I guess Vagina House was taken.”

Coincidentally, Rory Gilmore reads Moby Dick, partially set in Nantucket, in the show’s original pilot. Emily ends up volunteering as a guide at the whaling museum there.

Self-referential full circles are hammered home elsewhere. The pilot ended with an ultimatum: Emily and Richard promise to pay for Rory’s private high school, only if she and Lorelai agree to come once a week for dinner.

It ends with another: Emily will pay for the expansion of Lorelai’s inn only if she and Luke promise to visit Nantucket for two weeks every summer and a week at Christmas.

Even the last four words in the reboot are, in a sense, a continuation of the cycle, although it certainly isn’t the ending that most of us expected.

Part of me wishes the creators ended things by squeezing in one more pop culture reference — a tip of the hat to the ambiguous finale of the greatest television show ever created (the Sopranos). Have Rory and Lorelai meet at Luke’s Diner. The misfits of Stars Hollow file in. And just as a Journey, or maybe a Steely Dan song plays, they cut to black.

Jessica Allen is the digital correspondent on CTV’s The Social.