(This post contains spoilers about “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life.”)
“Belly alert,” Lorelai mutters as an overweight man passes by. “Holy moly,” Rory echoes. They scoff at a woman in a bikini (“Just go naked”) and then dub a heavy man in a Speedo “Back Fat Pat.” Meanwhile, people drop by to welcome Rory back to town, since she moved home after a rough patch in her journalism career. “I’m not back!” she repeatedly whines to her well-wishers, even though it sure looks like she’s back for good.
The scene exemplifies the worst parts of “Gilmore Girls,” the acclaimed WB series that ran from 2000 to 2007: Lorelai and Rory’s banter that could turn cruel and grating; Rory’s blindness to her unbelievable privilege; the main characters simply thinking they’re better than everyone else. Already, viewers are calling out this particular scene: “The ‘Gilmore Girls’ Fat-Shaming Scene Was Unnecessary.” “About The Body-Shaming On ‘Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life.'” “‘Gilmore Girls’ fans are dragging the revival for its ‘cringe-worthy’ fat-shaming.”)
While every great TV series has its flaws, a major problem with TV reboots is that they often focus a glaring spotlight on all of the show’s initial problems, which ultimately make for a subpar viewing experience — and threaten to tarnish the original series.
Make no mistake, the highly-anticipated “Gilmore Girls” revival, which landed on Netflix the day after Thanksgiving, was thrilling to many fans, some of whom can’t find a negative thing to say. But it has also garnered lots of criticism over the past several days, from diehard loyal viewers to people who never saw the original show but decided to watch the revival because of all the hype.
The main issues mostly involve Rory, who started the series as a quiet, brainy introvert who loved to read and didn’t need a social life because her mother was her best friend. Eventually, she came out of her shell, and throughout the seven seasons, wound up in various romantic entanglements and career woes as she embarked on her dream to become a journalist. Rory’s evolution was frustrating at times, especially because she never seemed to recognize how many advantages she had, thanks to her wealthy grandparents, and was often deemed “special” even if she didn’t display extraordinary qualities.
In the revival, Rory, as many have pointed out, has become insufferable — a disappointment to the fans that used to look up to her. She cheats on her boyfriend, Paul (Jack Carpenter), and is embroiled in an affair with her college boyfriend, Logan (Matt Czuchry), who is engaged. Rory’s career is in shambles and she can’t land a full-time job. Multiple critics have pointed out that this is because she seems to be a terrible reporter, one who sleeps with a source and then doesn’t prepare for a job interview at a website because she thinks she’s too good for the position. (She doesn’t get the job.) As one piece in The Washington Post sums it up, “Rory Gilmore is a monster.”
Other complaints include the terrible Stars Hollow musical, which in the original series would be a quick scene; in the revival (which runs 90 minutes per episode), it’s a 20-minute gag that goes on and on. Some people are upset about the infamous “last four words” of the show, in which Rory reveals her pregnancy and ends the series on an infuriating cliffhanger.
A disappointing revival — or even one that doesn’t live up to sky-high expectations — happens all the time: Just look at Season 4 of “Arrested Development,” or “Fuller House,” or even “Heroes Reborn.” Worst-case scenario, they result in fans’ hesitation to re-watch the original series. After all, it might look different now that they know how the characters turn out in the future. Why get invested in Luke (Scott Patterson) and Lorelai’s love story when they turn out to be such a boring couple?
And forget potential viewers who were curious about all the publicity about the revival and decided to tune in — if they can’t stand the reboot, there’s no way they’ll go back and watch the first seven seasons.
Therein lies the conundrum of TV reboots. They’re essentially fan service, so they’re destined to alienate new viewers. But when the fans are also disappointed in the revival, then there’s the risk of damaging the show that they loved all along.