To say that the Internet is obsessed with Gilmore Girls is, perhaps, an understatement. The Internet maintains a cult-like following for the show, which went off-air in 2007, a lifetime in Internet years, but apparently a flash in TV-worship years. We all went ballistic when Netflix announced earlier this fall that they were uploading the complete series for our viewing pleasure, and now everyone’s collectively losing it over the news that Amy Sherman-Palladino, Lauren Graham, and Alexis Bledel will be reuniting in 2015.
When I first saw the headlines, I wanted to lose it, too: A Gilmore Girls reunion? Could it be? Could we finally get the series ender that Sherman-Palladino always envisioned after being squeezed off the show by the network? And then I clicked through and was bitterly disappointed, in a classic illustration of the evils of clickbait. This was no reunion, but, rather, just a panel at a conference; one at the ATX Television Festival, to be precise, which will also be celebrating Dawson’s Creek (another show with an oddly determined following).
To bill this as a “reunion” is rather overselling it, though, even if more of the cast joins in (which is a pretty sure thing). The excitement seems a bit overwarranted.
“Open up your favorite travel-booking site. Type in information for a one-way ticket to Austin on June 4, 2015. You’ll want to be there for the Gilmore Girls reunion that’s happening at the ATX Television Festival,” says Vanessa Golembewski at Refinery 29. She’s joined in that refrain by critics and fans like Michael Ausiello and Tierney Bricker at E!.
The overwhelming response just goes to show how desperate the Internet is for any scrap of information or media related to Gilmore Girls, and by extension, how fervently the Internet wants an actual reunion, as in, a movie. Veronica Mars did it, Firefly did it, Twin Peaks did it, so why not Gilmore Girls? It could be a Web series, like the resurrected Arrested Development. Maybe even a miniseries, like the quietly lamented Jericho, which had a very small but apparently outstandingly, er, nutty fanbase.
Whatever it is, people want it, so much that they’re falling all over themselves in excitement about a single panel. Imagine what would happen if Gilmore Girls was actually picked up and put back in production, though fans may be disappointed, as Lauren Graham recently told E! that she’s a bit conflicted about the idea of reprising her role.
Collectively, we want to resurrect Gilmore Girls so badly that any scrap of a hint that the show might come back together sends people into palpitations of delight, as in 2009 when Sherman-Palladino teased (yet again) the possibility of a movie. Already, we’re picking over the bare bones of the information about this panel even though there’s almost nothing to know: There’s a panel, and Sherman-Palladino has made a brief statement about it, and that’s about it.
So, after years of peace and quiet, these lunatics have chosen to get the chattiest chicks in the world back under one roof? Really? Okay. You asked for it. Gilmore was the highlight of my ridiculous life. I can’t wait to sit with these unbelievable broads and relive a time where sleep did not exist, where stress and coffee were mama’s little helpers, and where we all dove into the deep end together to make something weird and very very cool.
Almost every story covering the reunion basically revolves around this pretty uninformative news bite, with a few lines of commentary thrown in; hooray, Gilmore Girls! That’s because there’s not a whole lot to know beyond that. Clearly the festival wanted to tease this early to ramp up interest, and they made a good call. They couldn’t have made a better choice when it comes to catnip for the Internet and working people into a frenzy over what boils down to not all that much information; well played, my friends at the ATX Television Festival. Very well played.
Over at Bustle, Alanna Bennett tried to run with the news a bit to spin it into the obvious next question: Are we finally going to get some answers to burning questions, like how Sherman-Palladino really wanted the show to end, and who thought the whole Luke’s baby storyline was a good idea? It’s safe to assume that the crew probably won’t spill the beans on possible alternate endings if they’re holding out for a resurrection of the show, but perhaps someone will finally ‘fess up to one of the worst storylines in the show’s tangled, messy, disappointing later seasons.
As people go into transports of excitement over a public appearance, though, it’s also worth talking about whether we even really want a Gilmore Girls reunion, for all we talk the talk. Sure, it sounds like a good idea. Who doesn’t want to hear the strains of “Where You Lead” and see good old Stars Hollow again? Who wouldn’t want to see Lorelai and Luke get their long-delayed second chance at a happy ending, and see Rory finally settled into the new and fantastic life she deserves? (And maybe Paris can take a break from lawyering with Annalise Keating.)
But reunions, or, rather, resurrections, rarely go as planned.
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me was, to put it mildly, not well-received by critics. “The Cannes audience booed the film, not just at the end, but regularly throughout, and some audience members left the theatre in disgust,” writes Petra Davis at The Quietus. At Movie Mezzanine, Christopher Runyon notes that: “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me is a rare bird: A prequel to a franchise that, in many ways, manages to alienate most of its intended audience (i.e. fans of the show) by explicitly avoiding fan-service at every possible turn.” Reviewers at the Washington Post, Variety, and Rolling Stone all disliked it, some with quite colorful turns of phrase.
When Arrested Development popped back into life on Netflix, it returned to highly mixed reviews despite the critical acclaim that had preceded the show, and the excitement of many long-time fans who couldn’t wait to see their old friends and nemeses again. At Time, James Poniewozik was unimpressed, saying: “If you marathoned old AD before watching this, turning on the first episode (focused on a falling-out between Michael and his son) feels like stepping from a briskly air-conditioned room into a rain forest; everything’s heavy, languid, a little oppressive.” Netflix and The New York Times got into a feud over an unfavorable review. Meanwhile, Jericho’s limp attempt at a second season in miniseries form was a total flop almost from the start, a clear case of lipservice from a network that had already written off the low-rated show.
The Veronica Mars film, crowdfunded by fans who almost broke Kickstarter in their excitement to see their favorite sassy heroine return to the screen, wasn’t, honestly, very good. “Too much time wasted on a whodunit that’s more like a who-cares,” said Peter Travers at Rolling Stone in a rather tepid assessment. Carl Wilson at the Globe and Mail wasn’t impressed, and neither were Michael Phillips at the Chicago Tribune, Manohla Dargis at the Times, and Mike McCahill at The Guardian.
Serenity received more critical acclaim; even Roger Ebert found it rather endearing, which may be a testimony to the power of a good series that translated well to film, the strength of the cast, the mysterious Whedon special sparkle, or something else. Whatever the reason, Desson Thomson at the Post gave it a thumbs up, and he was joined by critics at New York Magazine, the San Francisco Chronicle, and Entertainment Weekly.
Not all family reunions, as we already know, are happy, and that holds true for film and television as well. The temptation to beat the drums for a Gilmore Girls reunion comes from a place of deep love for a television series that had a profound impact on a generation of viewers, but how happy would we be with a film, miniseries, or Web version of the show, which is destined to become an American classic? A movie version would have to be laden with fan service to satisfy those who are devoted to the series, which would make it impenetrable to viewers new to the franchise, while a miniseries would likely be bloated and unstable, leaving viewers frustrated and disappointed. A Web series would provide freedom from network interference, the very problem that brought Sherman-Palladino down and the project to its knees, but that same freedom might leave the show rudderless, too. In resurrection, we run the risk of wishing we’d left Gilmore Girls as it was.
It’s not just that many of the cast and crew have moved on to other projects, but that it may be difficult to recapture the ineffable nature of Stars Hollow and its denizens after all these years. Perhaps it is best to let some sleeping dogs lie, and to instead remember them in their glory days; and, okay, attend some panels to hear about how things went down behind the scenes.