Love or hate them, reboots and revivals are the trend that’s taking over our television sets. Personally, I like the idea of revivals and revisiting characters and their stories years later to see how they’ve changed, and also how the world has changed since they were originally on air. However, the fact that so much of our television line-up is made up of shows from ten years ago, making a resurgence can get tiring.
So which reboots and revivals are worth your time?
Good: Will and Grace
The original Will and Grace had its problems, and so does the revival. It’s a repetitive format, but it’s one gets the job done, and the characters are as lovable and ridiculous as ever. Even when you can’t stand their antics and you’ve got your hands over your eyes in secondhand embarrassment, you’re rooting for them.
Will and Grace still tackles big issues, and unsurprisingly takes on a lot more in 2018 than 1998; they’ve always tackled various issues facing gay men, but they’ve gotten more inclusive since the initial run. The best episode of the season features Jack’s gay grandson being sent to conversion therapy. The second best featured an emotional conversation between Jack and Will about the importance of their friendship. Hollywood outside of Will and Grace has yet to realize that two gay men can be friends and nothing more, and while of course Jack and Will still fall into the same old stereotypes sometimes, they’re more than just caricatures. They’re living, breathing, ridiculous people who keep making us laugh.
Bad: The X-Files
The early seasons of The X-Files are classic great television, but the show definitely went downhill at the end of its original run. The revival doesn’t maintain the original vibe of the show, either the early or late seasons. The new seasons promise to answer long-standing fan questions about Scully’s son, William, but the answers are disappointing. Instead of offering a sense of closure, the answers only cause the world to make less sense and paints the events of the original series as wrong.
It also reduces Scully, one of the most iconic female characters in sci-fi, to her reproductive capabilities as a babymaker. That’s a problem in the original series as well, but it’s even more cemented in the revival with her identity inextricably tangled in the question of motherhood. The poor reactions to the show along with Gillian Anderson’s decision to leave will likely mean that we won’t see anymore X-Files on our screens anytime in the future.
Good: One Day at a Time
One Day at a Time is the true reboot on this list, featuring a brand new cast of characters than the ‘70s original. It stands alone as an excellent television show outside how it interacts with its predecessor, though there are plenty of Easter eggs for fans of the original.
Instead of focusing on a white family, the new One Day at a Time features a lower middle class Cuban American family trying to keep it together with a lot of heart and laughs. It has amazing, incredible storylines including a beautiful coming out story for daughter Elena, and a frank look at the PTSD of veterans with mother Penelope. It takes on a heavy mantle for a sitcom, but everything always plays with charm and grace.
Bad: Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life
The revival of Gilmore Girls isn’t bad television, and certainly has moments where it shines. Edward Herrman, who played the grandfather in the original, died before the revival was in the works, and the show handles his absence with incredible grace and emotion.
However, this change (obviously a necessary one) is one of the only changes to the status quo of the lives of Lorelai and Rory. Almost nothing happens to them in the interim between the original show and the revival. For those of you who don’t follow Gilmore Girls politics, the original showrunner Amy Sherman-Palladino didn’t run the show for its final season, and the revival seemed like her trying to write that final season almost a decade later, and it falls flat.
As someone who saw myself in Rory, a teenage girl whose main personality traits are drive and ambition to succeed, it was especially disappointing to see how the revival was determined to show her failures and reduced her to repeat her mother’s life and instead of living her own.
Good: Queer Eye
Even if you don’t like reality television, Queer Eye is well-worth your time. A reboot of the early 2000s show Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, the new show has shortened its title in order to be more inclusive and feature a greater range of clients and stories.
The set-up is pretty simple – five gay men remake someone’s life. They all have a different specialty, and their clients range from a redneck Trump supporter to a religious black woman to a trans man recovering from top surgery. All five of the guys are wonderful, positive, inspiring people who you just wish you knew in real life.
Queer Eye is the ultimate feel-good show for a neverending list of reasons, but the one that sticks with me is seeing how affectionate and open the Fab Five are, not just with each other, but with their clients. Seeing their clients – mostly straight guys – be affectionate right back gives me faith that there’s still good in the world.
Bad: Fuller House
Full House is the show that defines my childhood, and I’m sure I’m not alone in that. I’ve seen every single episode of the revival, Fuller House, with my mother and sister, so I can speak as an authority on the subject. Listen – it’s bad television with bad writing, and you’re going to want to groan every other second. However, if you’re going to spend time watching bad television, this is the bad television to watch. You will want to cheer with the in-studio audience when Uncle Jesse makes an appearance and says have mercy, even if you don’t know why. You will. I promise.
The show isn’t exactly entertaining and certainly doesn’t add any important conversation to our television discourse, and it relies almost exclusively on nostalgia to carry the story. If you like the TV phase of revivals and reboots, and nostalgia is something you look for in television, you’ll never find anything more self-indulgently cheesy.
Obviously, television is up to personal preference, and almost all revivals depend at least in part on a connection to the original show. If you have a show you love that’s being rebooted, you’re definitely much more likely to have strong opinions about it, whether it’s positive or negative. This phase of TV doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon, so more revivals will be popping up and hopefully do something exciting, even if it’s not entirely new.