Reboots, Revivals and Reunions: Should Shows Return?

Alice Bennett

With the recent trend of capitalising on nostalgia, reboots of movies and TV shows have taken over our screens, with the Harry Potter reunion airing on the 1st of January. In particular, nostalgic TV shows of the 90’s and 2000’s have made a comeback – but is this always a good thing?

In December, Sex and the City was revived in the form of And Just Like That…, revisiting the old characters and seeing where they are now. It was not well-received with fans, with an audience rating of just 28% on Rotten Tomatoes. Similarly, despite its fairly high ratings, fans had a lot of issues with Gilmore Girls: A Year In the Life, which picks up nearly 10 years after the original show finished.

The original shows were a product of their time

There are several issues with revisiting old characters and storylines with revivals of beloved shows; in the case of Gilmore Girls and Sex and the City, one of the main problems is that the original shows were a product of their time. This means that, for modern audiences, there is a need to address issues with representation and less politically correct statements said by characters. In Sex and the City, they take the approach of resolving that – but many fans and reviewers such as Janelle Zara felt that this new ‘woke’ reboot was too forced; the addition of Carrie’s podcast and the ‘overcompensation’ regarding the acknowledgement of an overly white cast and heteronormative values is ‘well-intentioned’ but ‘clumsy’, detracting from the humorous and clever writing present in the original show. Gilmore Girls almost takes the opposite approach; Lorelai makes a “triggered” joke which seems tired, and a lot of the witty dialogue just comes off as mean (like the fat jokes when her and Rory are by the pool); it fails to take any responsibility for problems with the original. Both approaches seem out of touch and remind us why these shows came out when they did.

They also suffer from this in that the lasting popularity of the shows are largely due to the nostalgia factor of 90’s/early 2000’s shows with things like the fashion and the fact that they were made pre-coronavirus and social media. This works for more serious and plot-driven shows such as Twin Peaks which was very well-received. For shows where the main appeals are the characters and comfort factor, to see your favourite characters age and, for the most part, end up unhappy or find their goals unachievable – particularly in the case of Rory in Gilmore Girls and with the death of a beloved character in And Just Like That…– is very disappointing.

An alternative way to bring a show back is to have completely different characters and storylines, which has worked for certain shows like Doctor Who; its return in 2005 was extremely successful. However, this doesn’t work as well with nostalgic noughties shows like Gossip Girl, with its reboot rated 37% on Rotten Tomatoes. Part of the reason why people love the show is, again, comfort and nostalgia as well as characters which became iconic. We all rooted for Chuck and Blair, and it made stars out of its cast. Similarly, the new How I Met Your Father announcement was not met with much excitement for the same reason – the whole show revolved around the chemistry of the original cast (and people are still unhappy with the way the original show ended). Ultimately, this formula is dependent on the show; in Doctor Who, revivals work because you know what the deal is – a new doctor every few seasons with companions changing just as often, whereas the characters in Gossip Girl, Sex and the City and Gilmore Girls are half of the reason why you watch it.

It’s kind of disappointing to see your favourite characters older and, for the most part, sadder

The Friends’ reunion in May offers a different solution; as much as we would all be curious to see where the Friends characters are now, the curse of revivals mean that it’s kind of disappointing to see your favourite characters older and, for the most part, sadder- especially if it is set in 2021 during a global pandemic. Thankfully, the writers made the decision to just have a reunion. When asked whether they would consider doing a reboot or a movie, Lisa Kudrow replied that the writers had ‘ended the show very nicely, everyone’s lives are very nice and they would have to unravel all those good things in order for there to be stories and I don’t want anyone’s happy ending unravelled’.

This sums up the issue I have personally with reboots and remakes; reboots of old movie franchises have the same issues; for example, the most recent Star Wars trilogy essentially featured everyone’s favourite characters get killed off one by one, which is just kind of sad. Gilmore Girls was particularly sad for me as it is my comfort show. As someone who has re-watched it countless times, seeing how the characters I loved end up with the unhappiest of endings makes me question what the point in the revival even was, if not to disappoint its audience.

Perhaps then the best way to benefit from the nostalgia and revisit these comfort shows is through reunions. Though there were some strange moments with celebrity guests and the fact that James Corden hosted it, Friends: The Reunion was enjoyable and was made specifically with the fans in mind, which is probably the best course of action going forward for shows with such dedicated fanbases.

Alice Bennett

Featured Image courtesy of jeffmason via Flickr. Image license found here. No changes made to this image.

In article image 1 courtesy of justlikethatmax via Instagram. No changes made to these images.

In article image 2 courtesy of friends via Instagram. No changes made to these images.

For more content including uni news, reviews, entertainment, lifestyle, features and so much more, follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like our Facebook page for more articles and information on how to get involved.

EntertainmentFilm & TV

Leave a Reply