The Resurgence of Shows Such as ‘Gilmore Girls’ Reflects an Interesting Trend

Why are older shows becoming more popular in the media now?


Mollie Sivaram / Unsplash

Netflix is one of several streaming services through which people discover many shows, old and new. The resurgence of older shows is enabled, in part, by the accessibility created by such streaming sites.

A cool, quiet, and cozy Saturday night, while the winter snowflakes flutter onto the pavement, is the perfect backdrop to relax at home and watch a good show, with a cup of steaming hot chocolate in one hand and a bowl of your favorite snack in the other. In today’s day and age, the prospects of entertainment options are endless. How could you possibly choose amidst the myriad of options available amongst the vast library of shows offered by different streaming sites? Then suddenly, a show catches your eye. It’s entitled Gilmore Girls and you realize it’s the show that all of your friends and family have been raving about. You decided to spend that Saturday night immersing yourself into the world of a single mother and her genius daughter, both doing their best to navigate through a difficult and sometimes, cruel life. Before you know it, you’ve watched the entire first season…with zero regrets. 

Now this on its own isn’t entirely surprising. Popular shows tend to spread like wildfire – first capturing the attention of the media, and eventually dying down. Squid Game was a perfect example of this – it was the only thing anyone talked about for a few months or so, and then it fell out of public awareness. What makes Gilmore Girls indicative of a trend in popular culture is that the show aired in 2000, became a quick fan favorite, died out in a timely fashion, and somehow caught fire almost 22 years later. 

The appeal of Gilmore Girls is undeniable. The characters are charming, relatable, and witty. It’s easy to empathize with the struggles of Lorelai Gilmore, a funny and caring single mom.  Many people watching the show can understand the typical high schooler struggles that Rory deals with. However, this show’s characters didn’t suddenly become likable on the cusp of 2022, so why did the show suddenly return to popularity? 

There are many factors that play into why shows like Gilmore Girls resurface. First off, it’s long, airing a total of seven seasons, making it easy to binge. Second, the writing of the show is funny and the writing is characteristic. The episodes are long, but they don’t seem repetitive. The characters are likable and relatable and the problems they go through seem real to the narrative of the story. “I like Gilmore Girls because I can really relate to the characters. I consider myself a Jess-type person,” said Laszlo Stein ’23.  Neither the narrative, nor the characters feel forced in anyway. Any hit show should have these elements because people are attracted to them when browsing for good shows to watch. Moreover, nostalgia fueled and propagated the frenzy around the show. This is certainly part of the reason the show did so well in 2020. There was a lot of discussion around it, but also many older fans of the show had fond memories attached to the show. During a time period when everyone was quarantined, not only was there ample time to take part in the community that came with the show, but also allowed people to reminisce about happier and better times.  

Gilmore Girls is not the only show that faced a sudden resurgence. Another great example of this is the resurgence of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Over quarantine, this was another show that suddenly caught fire despite releasing for the first time in 2005. The story follows a young boy who is duty-bound to bring peace to a war-ridden world filled with poverty, fear, and death. It was a show that many teens had watched during their childhood and rediscovered during the pandemic. Just like in Gilmore Girls, the characters were iconic. The conflicts in the show were meaningful and helped build the narrative of bringing peace in a world where many people hadn’t even considered the concept. The show’s main theme of unity was a dearly missed idea not because of the pandemic which split people apart, but also because the world is very much divided amongst its many issues. 

There may be one final aspect that plays into the success of these shows. Pop culture has shown a repeated obsession with previous era pop media. Older songs such as Kate Bush’s Running up That Hill have broken 2022 records on Spotify despite being originally released in 1985. Incidentally, the song’s popularity is undoubtedly attributed to its cameo in Stranger Things, an extremely popular Netflix show that is fittingly set in the 1980s. The aesthetic of Stranger Things replicates the 80s and the 90s.  Gilmore Girls does the same thing. Time and time again, audiences have shown that they have an infatuation with previous decades and the things that were popular at that time. This paired with the fact that older generations have an additional layer of nostalgia attached to the time period, allows these shows not only to impress the younger generation but connect with the older ones. 

“I think as Gen Z grows up, newer television shows try to appeal to the short attention spans of our generation, making the shows unrealistically absurd and frankly exhausting. Shows like Gilmore Girls do not attempt to appeal to this phenomena, and the shows are somewhat refreshing in their consistency and long-term plots,” said Miradyn Feist ’23. Older shows set a precedent for future shows. Stranger Things and Gilmore Girls have proven that shows built in the past with characters that are relatable rather than over-the-top help to create a viewership that isn’t attached to the first few months of the show coming out. Instead the show is built with plotlines that are realistic and important to the viewer themselves. “I think it’s become a trend for things that were popular in the past to become popular again after a decade or two. We see this in fashion trends too. It makes sense for older shows to gain, lose, then gains that popularity again as the years go by,” said Suhana Syeda ’23. 

There seems to be a formula that enables shows like Gilmore Girls, Stranger Things and Avatar: The Last Airbender to gain popularity after leaving the limelight. They have incredible writing with iconic and charismatic characters and the conflicts in the show are important to the narrative and contain heartfelt themes. The ideas present aren’t limited to the time period and have messages that can be appreciated and connect with a wide demographic of people. The shows aren’t made to appeal to a short attention span. 

Finally, the older generations have a sense of nostalgia attached to the previous decades and newer generations are curious about it.  “A combination of a glamorization of vintage styles and the romanticization of adolescents cause these shows to resurge in popularity. Pinterest is filled with photos of Rory Gilmore and Jackie and the characters from the vampire diaries. Also, because most of these shows take place decades before we were born, it almost feels like a whole different world, and makes the shows feel mostly lighthearted as they follow careless romantic pursuits,” said Ilias Papageorgiou ’23.  All of these aspects together enable these shows to exist outside of the time of their creation and be contemporary for any generation. In a sense, it preserves the memory of older decades and makes these shows timeless. 

“I think it’s become a trend for things that were popular in the past to become popular again after a decade or two. We see this in fashion trends too. It makes sense for older shows to gain, lose, then gain that popularity again as the years go by” said Suhana Syeda ’23.