Start stockpiling Pop-Tarts and get that bottomless pot of coffee brewing: We’re just days away from the premiere of Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, Netflix’s revival of the beloved early-2000’s dramedy. (The streaming service is dropping all four episodes on November 25th.) The original series introduced us to the fast-talking, java-addicted Lorelai Gilmore (Lauren Graham), her 16-year-old brainiac daughter Rory (Alexis Bledel), and a colorful cast of characters in the fictional Connecticut hamlet of Stars Hollow.
All things considered, the CW show could have been a forgettable mess, considering it premiered during a period when teen dramas like The O.C., 7th Heaven and Everwood, to name a few, were all the rage. But thanks to creator Amy Sherman-Palladino (who’d previously written for Roseanne, among other sitcoms), we got something far richer, deeper and dialogue-wise, a lot faster. The characters were funny and relatable, the banter was zinger-heavy, the familial drama was poignant and the romantic chemistry, notably between Lorelai and the local diner owner/her caffeine addiction enabler Luke (Scott Patterson), was off the charts.
The show ended in 2007 after an underwhelming final season, by which time Sherman-Palladino had left. But thanks to its very dedicated fans, the cast and creators never gave up on bringing it back. A Year in the Life will be made up of four episodes, one for each season of the year, and will follow Lorelai and Rory as they navigate their loves, losses, and everything in between. If you don’t know your Patty from your Paris – or you just need a refresher on all things Gilmore – here is everything you need to know about the reboot.
Why This Is Such a Big Deal
Gilmore Girls came from an idea that Sherman-Palladino pitched to executives from the WB on a whim: a TV show about a mother and a daughter who are best friends. But that off-the-cuff pitch led to a show that was witty, big-hearted, and full of quirky characters – a rarity in early-aughts dramedies geared toward teens. (Seriously, could you see Kirk existing on Dawson’s Creek?) She had exited the show before its final season, so for fans who’ve wanted to see the show head into the sunset the way that it should, this is indeed huge.
A Chance to Get the Ending Right
So about that last season: Sherman-Palladino was in charge of nearly every aspect of the show – writing, producing, even directing episodes – for the first six years it was on the air. She famously knew the story arc down to the last four words (more on the later). And the series reflected her own passions: Musicians like Carole King (who sang the theme song) and Yo La Tengo made cameos, and the fast-paced dialogue was riddled with obscure pop culture references. But after contract negotiations for the final season fell apart, the showrunner left, and Season Seven was completed by other writers. It’s generally regarded as the show’s worst go-round, mainly because it lacked its creator’s voice and vision. (She admits to having never watched it.) Now, fans will see an ending envisioned by the mastermind herself – though she did tell TVLine that “We had to pick [the characters] up where they left off,” so elements from that season will be included.
Thank the Fandom for the Reboot
Netflix may be airing the new series, but the show’s extremely dedicated fans are really to thank for getting the idea of a revival on the table. A cast reunion at the 2015 ATX Festival in Austin, Texas proved just how many people were still dedicated to the series, which got everyone – the creators, cast, and Netflix – on board. “We realized that there was a new audience for the show,” Sherman-Palladino said earlier this year. “And we thought, ‘Well, now that Netflix exists, maybe [it’s] time to talk about how we would do [a new series].'” But the fandom doesn’t stop with Instagram accounts and podcasts: In October, GG obsessives took over the Connecticut town of Washington Depot for a fan festival, complete with cast interviews, a knit-a-thon, and other Gilmore-approved activities.
Lorelai and Emily – But No Richard
One of the show’s central conflicts was between Lorelai and her parents, Richard (the late Edward Herrmann) and Emily (Kelly Bishop). The straight-laced, upper-upper-upper–class Gilmores wanted big things for their daughter: a coming-out party, Ivy League education, a marriage to the eligible Yale man of her choice. Instead, she got pregnant at 16 and ran away from home. These familial conflicts (her mother and father’s disapproval of pretty much every part of their offspring’s life; Lorelai’s refusal to acknowledge how running away may have hurt them) created plenty of drama over the years; by the end, they’d reached a truce. But A Year in the Life brings on a whole new level of drama: Herrmann’s death in 2014 will drive much of the show’s storyline. “Dealing with the death of Richard is going to impact all of them, because when somebody close to you dies your whole life comes into a weird focus for a minute,” Sherman-Palladino told Entertainment Weekly. Stockpile some tissues, is what we’re saying.
Rory and Dean and Jess and Logan …
Bookish, introverted Rory still managed to do her fair share of dating over the course of Gilmore Girls‘ seven seasons, with three major boyfriends: high-school sweetheart Dean (Supernatural‘s Jared Padalecki); brooding punk acolyte Jess (This Is Us’ Milo Ventimiglia); and poor little rich boy Logan (The Good Wife‘s Matt Czuchry), whose proposal she rejected at the show’s end. All three of her former loves will appear in the revival, though some will have bigger roles than others; Padalecki is apparently due to appear for only one scene, while Ventimiglia shows up in the trailer, as hunky and sarcastic as ever. Though it’s unlikely that she ends up with one of them, it’ll give fans more reason to argue over whether or not they’re Team Jess or Team Logan. (Team Jess forever, of course.)
Lorelai and Luke Are Together – But For How Long?
Another crucial relationship in the original series was that between Lorelai and gruff, scruffy diner owner and No. 1 coffee supplier Luke Danes. The will-they-or-won’t-they dramatics lasted for a while, before they got together, broke up, and got back together again. And in the trailer for the new series, the unlikely pair is still together, though there are signs that not all is happy in Stars Hollow. “I thought I knew exactly what I wanted and where I was going,” Lorelai says in the trailer – does this mean things with our favorite cantankerous slinger of cheesburgers are on the rocks?
So Where Are the Gilmore Girls Now?
Here’s what we do know, based on trailers, teasers, and Internet sleuthing: Lorelai still lives in Stars Hollow, is still with Luke, and is still running the Dragonfly Inn. Rory may or may not still be a journalist – she’s been living a “vagabond” life, which is easy when you have a trust fund – and is searching for direction. And Emily is still reeling from Richard’s death, with coping mechanisms that include Marie Kondo-ing the Gilmore’s enormous Hartford home, commissioning a larger-than-life portrait of the patriarch and wearing – gasp – a T-shirt and jeans. “It’s later in their lives and we’re … finding out what they’ve been doing but, more than that, that all three of their lives are going to change,” Sherman-Palladino was quoted as saying. We’ll have to wait and see how these big changes play out.
Who Else Is Coming Back?
Basically everyone. A short list includes all of the members of Hep Alien, featuring Rory’s music-obsessed BFF Lane (Keiko Agena), her husband Zack (True Blood‘s Todd Lowe), Brian (John Cabrera), and yes, even Sebastian Bach as Gil; clumsy chef Sookie St. James, who was played by a pre-superstardom Melissa McCarthy; Rory’s ultra-competitive friend/schoolmate Paris Geller (Liza Weil), who unsurprisingly has some kind of academic position; the members of the Life and Death Brigade, the GG stand-in for Yale’s secretive Skull and Bones club; and most of the folks from the town of Stars Hollow, including gossips Miss Patty and Babette, the troubadour (played by indie rocker Grant Lee Phillips), surly mechanic Gypsy, and town weirdo Kirk. And yes, Paul Anka the dog is back too.
Stars Hollow Is As Quirky As Ever
Don’t believe us? One of the plot points in the revival is the staging of Stars Hollow: The Musical, which is exactly what it sounds like. And the production has some serious star power: Fun Home composer Jeanine Tesori wrote the songs, plus Broadway stars Sutton Foster (who starred in Sherman-Palladino’s short-lived ballet dramedy Bunheads) and Christian Borle are part of the cast. If town prig Taylor Doose’s vaguely creepy, historically inaccurate Stars Hollow Museum from Season Five was any indication, this musical is sure to be weird, goofy, and over the top, i.e. everything we love about this eccentric East Coast hamlet.
The Final Four Words Will Finally Be Revealed
Sherman-Palladino has said that she knew the trajectory of the story from the very beginning, down to the final words spoken in the series finale … had she been there for the final season, that is. So good news for completists: Those four little words will indeed close out the reboot. Spoiler alert: They’re spoken between two characters (Lorelai, maybe Rory?) and they may not bring the closure that fans are looking for. But hey, after all these years, just hearing them will be comforting on its own – like taking that first sip of a cup of Luke’s extra-strong coffee.