Where You Lead I Will Follow, Stars Hollow – A Devoted Fan's Take on the New Gilmore Girls Episodes

Warning: contains spoilers

Last week's Friday was a big day for many: for the first time in nine years it became possible to visit present-day Stars Hollow, as Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life hit Netflix. Anyone who has watched Gilmore Girls (2000-2007) knows what this means: fast dialogue with so many pop culture references that you are sure to miss about 90% of them, the most lovable, peculiar characters, and coffee. So much coffee. For me, all of this was love at first sight when I happened to stumble in front of the television at the right moment sometime in 2003, and ever since then, the show has developed into kind of a best friend for me. Having grown up with it, it has become a safe haven, somewhere to escape the real world when it gets a bit too rough around the edges.

But as we know, everyone and everything changes. I've never been keen on the last and seventh season of the show that came out in 2007, the only season made without the show's original creator Amy Sherman-Palladino and her husband Daniel Palladino. In season 7, it felt like the show had lost its focus – there were too many loose plot twists that did not really go anywhere, too much running here and there without a point. However, knowing that the original creators were again in charge of the new episodes made my hopes go up.

My hopes weren't exactly fulfilled, though. There was a lot happening in the new episodes, but much of it felt somehow meaningless. There were Lorelai and Emily going to therapy (which in the end did nothing to their tangled relationship), Lorelai and Luke thinking about having a baby (which did not happen), and Rory going after an endless array of jobs (none of which really became anything). Emily's own storyline was a nice exception: it was interesting to witness her struggle with coming to terms with her new life as a widow and the independence it brings. What I had truly hoped for, though, was more good old Stars Hollow times, less rushing around. More time spent with all of the Stars Hollow people, less time following only Lorelai and Rory's lives. As much as I love the two of them, I feel like many of the characters were horribly ignored. How is Lane really feeling? How is Sookie and Jackson's family life going? And, most importantly, why on earth was there only like two seconds of Jess (my dreamiest dream boy since I was 12 years old)?

Maybe the biggest turn-off for me, in the end, was how Rory's character had evolved – or more correctly, devolved. Growing up, Rory was probably one of my biggest role models: an intelligent, kind, and driven girl with endless love for music, books and constant learning. While I actually loved the fact that the 32-year-old Rory's career as a writer had not exactly soared and she was kind of lost with what to do with her life – throughout the show she had always been the one to succeed and have things quite easy, so it was time for her to face some rougher times, as everyone does – it was her whole personality that made me cringe. Don't get me wrong, round female characters are the best and I find it extremely important that female characters, too, can be complex and unlikeable, but Rory seemed like an entirely different person when compared to the early seasons. Constantly cheating on her kind boyfriend without seeming to have any trouble with her conscience about it at all, never having the time or energy to dump that said boyfriend, and – gasp – using her editor's power to take the beloved seasonal poem off of Stars Hollow Gazette's cover against the townspeople's will?! Teenage-Rory was so, so much nicer to hang out with than the 32-year-old Rory, but maybe that's just the way things go sometimes.

But still, I couldn't help but feel at home. Basically all credits for this go to Stars Hollow, the whole entity that it forms. Every time I saw a familiar face, visited a familiar place or heard the town troubadour in the street corner, it was like my heart was wrapped in a warm blanket and I was safe. Not being that impressed with the storylines regarding the Gilmore girls themselves, I found real Gilmore Girls magic in the Stars Hollow moments of the new episodes. It was easy to feel that Stars Hollow had, actually, existed there for all these years, with all its streets and corners and strange festivals, among which the townspeople had been leading their lives: Babette and Morey as cool and as in love as ever, Taylor presenting silly ideas in town meetings, annoyed Gypsy fixing cars, Kirk coming up with his millionth business idea, Lane and Zach still rocking with Hep Alien (now just with their kids running around them). It also made me feel that, somehow, Stars Hollow will always continue to exist and life will go on there in its soft, sweet and strange way. That thought makes my heart happy in this unstable world.