Lorelei Gilmore can smell snow. She’ll announce it — “I smell snow” — and then a moment later gentle flakes will begin settling on her glossy brown hair and upturned palms. Her snow-predicting skills are a quirk of her character, like her addiction to coffee and proclivity to namedrop ’80s rock stars. In her purest, most archetypal form, Lorelei Gilmore always exists in a quantum state right before the first snowfall of the season.
Other characters have distinct moments, aesthetics, that define them too: Rory is in her pleated Chilton skirt, holding an armful of books. Jess is in a leather jacket. Sookie has her hair in pigtails behind a bandana, floating around the Dragonfly kitchen, every flat surface already overflowing with dishes of food. Luke is wearing flannel, of course. And for Stars Hollow itself, it should be covered with orange leaves and fairy lights, just cool enough for scarves and to take your latte hot, pumpkins already dotting the gazebo in preparation for Taylor’s Harvest Festival. In Stars Hallow, it should always be fall.
At its core, Gilmore Girls has always been a television show about and for the fall. Its moments of plot revolve mainly around the concept of Rory beginning school — first Chilton, and then Yale — which in turn permit all of the preppy blazers and pleated skirts that go along with her private school pedigree. She and her mother are always clutching coffee. While Rory reads — a quintessentially fall-associated activity — Lorelei runs a quaint New England inn, an infuriatingly fall-associated sentence. The show’s entire aesthetic requires characters in scarves at all times. Its title credits appear over fire-orange Connecticut foliage. Even the Gilmore’s second shared personality quirk after coffee — their excessive consumption of food — is an autumnal act. Fall is the harvest, the time for Thanksgiving and bounty, whether that bounty appears as maize or multiple-orders of delivery Chinese food.
Of course, the show progresses chronologically throughout the year; unlike some sitcoms, which exist in an alternate, timeless dimension, time passes in Stars Hollow and its residents age. Sometimes it becomes a mild winter in which characters will don jackets and scarves, rub their hands together and complain about the cold, but snow is something distinct and worth commenting on. Regardless of what the plot dictates the season to be, visually, most of the show takes place in mild Burbank weather disguised as fall (Gilmore Girls was shot almost entirely at the Warner Brothers Studio Lot in California). It’s always somehow within a temperature range for Rory to comfortably be wearing a jacket.
That was the case, of course, until Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, a revival which streamed directly on Netflix and visited the Gilmore girls for four episodes, one for each season: winter, spring, summer, and finally, fall.
Though the dialogue was sharp and dense with as many pop-culture references as ever, some fans felt like something was off . It was delightful to rejoin favorite characters once again, to see Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel get back in the habit of talking 200 words a minute, but it was like rereading a favorite book printed in a different font, or coming home to find that someone had moved your coffee table just slightly and you aren’t able to figure out exactly how to get it back to the place it was before. I posit a simple theory: they explicitly took Gilmore Girls out of fall.
The “Winter,” “Spring,” and “Summer” episodes all felt to me as though I was watching the show through an Instagram filter. It was simply wrong. Rory and Lorelei never belong at a pool — tell us it’s summer, sure, but they should still be wearing jeans and sweaters. Even in the dead of winter, give us pea coats, fine, but never parkas.
If there is a second season of A Year in the Life, I pray the creative team behind the show realizes that the character needed the most for a successful Gilmore Girls revival isn’t Rory, or Lorelei, or Emily, or Sookie, or Luke even: it’s book-reading, coffee-drinking, snow-smelling, leaf-crunching, pie-eating, autumn. Give us A Season In the Life, and hold us there. That’s the only Stars Hollow worth revisiting.