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Gilmore Girls on Netflix: 5 things you need to know

Lauren Graham and Scott Patterson, Gilmore Girls Netflix
Constance Grady is a senior correspondent on the Culture team for Vox, where since 2016 she has covered books, publishing, gender, celebrity analysis, and theater.

On November 25, just after midnight on the West Coast, Netflix will release all four episodes of Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, the highly anticipated revival of the WB series Gilmore Girls, which ran from 2000 to 2007. A Year in the Life consists of four 90-minute episodes, each covering a single season, beginning with “Winter” and ending with “Fall.” It’s helmed by Amy Sherman-Palladino, who created the show and ran the first six seasons of the seven-season broadcast run.

To whet your appetite, we’re offering you a few tidbits about what you can expect from the revival. We can’t tell you anything major, like The Final Four Words, but we have five minor spoilers for you below. Stop reading now if you want to go into the revival completely cold.

We’ll publish a full review of Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life closer to the release date.

1. Amy Sherman-Palladino is retconning away that bar from season 7

Gilmore Girls obsessives will recall that in season seven — the only season not run by Amy Sherman-Palladino — Stars Hollow suddenly acquired a bar called K.C.’s. It’s where Jackson and Christopher went to “bond,” and where Lorelai sang “I Will Always Love You” to Luke on karaoke night. K.C.’s was functional, but it lacked the aggressive quirk of the rest of Stars Hollow: It’s a pretty standard, generic bar, without a single colorful character to its name.

Sherman-Palladino is having none of this colorless lack of quirk. In A Year in the Life, we learn that there is only one bar in all of Stars Hollow, and it’s definitely not K.C.’s. It’s called The Secret Bar, and it has, to quote Babette, color coming out of its yin-yang.

2. Luke and Lorelai are not engaged as the show opens

One of the burning questions fans had after the end of the broadcast series was, of course, what happened to Luke and Lorelai. They were engaged all of the sixth season but never made it to the altar, and after they spent season seven estranged and barely talking, all the finale had to offer as hope for the future was a single, ambiguous kiss.

So Luke and Lorelai shippers breathed a sigh of relief back in April, when Entertainment Weekly reported that Luke and Lorelai are engaged but not yet married. But in the first episode, “Winter,” Luke and Lorelai are happily committed to one another, living together, but not married or engaged — a state of affairs on which Emily Gilmore, as always, has strong opinions.

3. The first episode begins four months after Richard’s death

The brilliant Edward Herrmann passed away in 2014, so it’s always been clear that Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life would have to find some way to deal with Richard Gilmore’s absence. Just how it planned to do so wasn’t quite so clear, but now we know that as “Winter” begins, Richard has been dead for four months, and our main characters are beginning to emerge from the first stages of their grief.

That doesn’t mean we don’t see Richard’s funeral, though. It’s shown in flashbacks. And speaking of those flashbacks…

4. The pacing is very different

Gilmore Girls has always had a flexible relationship with time. There are a lot of weeks with multiple Friday nights so that Rory and Lorelai can have multiple Friday night dinners with Emily and Richard; the timeline of Rory and Lorelai’s life before the show begins skitters wildly around so that in some episodes they’ve lived in Stars Hollow since Rory was 6 and in some since she was 12. Time follows story beats on Gilmore Girls, not the other way around, and it’s no surprise that A Year in the Life follows suit.

But A Year in the Life handles the pacing very differently than the show did in its broadcast run. Instead of covering a few weeks in 45 minutes, every episode of A Year in the Life covers three months in 90 minutes, so it has to develop an entirely new vocabulary for how to express the passage of time and how to keep character beats on track.

So we get flashbacks, which is a convention that the show only tried its hand at once over the course of the broadcast run; we skip whole weeks at a time and cover other weeks in minute detail. The effect is jarring — it’s just not the way Gilmore Girls usually feels — but not necessarily unpleasant.

5. That Netflix money shows onscreen

Netflix reportedly spent $6 billion on original productions in 2016, and boy can you see it on A Year in the Life. The video is of higher quality than it ever was. The tiny little WB backlot that serves as Stars Hollow has never looked so well-dressed. The soundtrack features expensive and iconic music. And there are multiple enormous production numbers that show off showrunner Amy Sherman-Palladino’s theatrical roots, with elaborate lighting, costuming, and choreography. If you ever thought Gilmore Girls really needed a few more dance numbers, A Year in the Life has you covered.

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