This article contains MAJOR SPOILERS from Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life
There is nothing quite like Gilmore Girls on television or film. Sixteen years on from its debut, this show about a mother-daughter friendship/relationship is still hard to pin down. Is it a drama? A comedy? A dramedy? Some sort of satire of small town American life? The modern day Little Women? What is undeniable is that Gilmore Girls is an experience. You have to sit and watch; let the lightning-fast dialogue sweep you up and just board the emotional rollercoaster.
The Netflix revival finds Lorelai (Lauren Graham, in a role deserving of an Emmy) and Emily (Kelly Bishop) dealing with the loss of Richard (the late and much missed Edward Herrmann). Lorelai and Luke are still together, living in Lorelai’s (perfect) house, but hitting somewhat of a snag in their relationship. Rory (Alexis Bledel) is a lost thirty-something, struggling in her career as a journalist and still (for some inexplicable reason) engaging in an affair with her rich and suave college boyfriend, Logan Huntzberger (Matt Czuchry).
The fact that almost every actor makes a return is a testament to the respect and love they have for the Gilmore fans and the show’s creators. Overall, the revival hits all the right notes. The new episodes are nostalgic, funny, charming. While flawed and forced in some places, the acting has never been better, and the dialogue and the drama of Stars Hollow still hold a unique charm. But what will cause mixed feelings among most fans are, of course, the infamous “last four words”. After years of speculation (and an awful storyline involving Lorelai marrying Christopher), we finally discover what they are.
Rory: “I’m pregnant.”
Rory is, compared to Emily and Lorelai, a more difficult character for the show to grapple with. She starts out as a kind, smart Ivy league-bound prodigy whose doe-eyed innocence makes her irresistible to fellow bookworms and all the mothers of the world. Then, after she leaves Chilton and begins her Yale career, she becomes a young woman who is still quirky and witty, but whose life is littered with questionable choices. She becomes the ‘other woman’ in the Dean/Lindsay marriage. She drops out of Yale. In these new episodes, she and Logan keep seeing each other even though he is engaged. She stumbles along through pointless writing assignments, gets remarkably compared to David Foster Wallace, and shows up to a job meeting unprepared and entitled. The scenes with Rory and The Life and Death Brigade are entertaining, but her gang of college friends can only be consumed in doses; there is something grating about a group of wealthy white thirty year-olds who traipse around town, buying up clubs and shoplifting just because they can.
In many ways, Rory can be a self-centered, privileged woman, and she can be completely oblivious to that privilege. We watch her actions and cannot help but feel frustrated. We know that her relationship with Logan is going nowhere. We know that she is feeling lost. We know that she is struggling to find a purpose in life. But what the show does not explore is why she is feeling this way. What has prompted this ‘rut’? Is this merely a journey most thirty-somethings go through? Unlike in her Yale and Dean arcs, Rory is never called out for her questionable actions. She is flawed like most characters on Gilmore, but her flaws are not as well addressed or explored as others.
Yes, Rory ending up pregnant brings the show full circle. History repeats itself. Rory becomes her mother, Logan (as the most likely candidate for the father) is Christopher, which makes Jess (thank god for Jess) Luke. Still, Rory’s circumstances here are very different to Lorelai’s, and you cannot help but wonder if Rory’s revival storyline would have worked better had the creator Amy Sherman-Palladino not left the show after season six and Rory were to get pregnant in her 20s rather than in her 30s.
Rory is adrift. Has she advanced or has she regressed as a character? Are we supposed to love Rory because she is Rory or are we allowed to dislike her? Sherman-Palladino’s decision to bring the show full circle is a commendable one, but now a new question has emerged: what does this ending actually mean for Gilmore Girls as a whole?
Now, it seems we are left with a story, to quote The Hollywood Reporter’s Daniel Fienberg, of a “woman who overcame adversity to become a well-settled woman, who raised a well-settled child who somehow created adversity through her own uncertainty.” If so, this does not undermine the show, but rather gives it a whole new perspective – albiet a somewhat darker, more cynical one. We can only hope that this was done intentionally, and not through a Kirk-style blunder.
- The shot of Lorelai, Emily and Rory in the car on the way to Richard’s funeral with Tom Waits playing in the background is one of best shots on Gilmore Girls. Ever. Edward Herrmann’s presence is felt throughout the new episodes, and the tribute paid to his memory cannot be done any better. The scene of Rory walking through the Gilmore house and sitting down to write at Richard’s desk tugs at the heartstrings like no other.
- Come on. Logan is obviously the father. Rory becoming a surrogate for Paris seems a stretch too far and we can probably (and regretfully) remove the Wookie guy from the equation too. This gives an entirely different perspective to Rory’s meeting with her father Christopher, especially considering the parallels between Christopher and Logan that Amy Sherman-Palladino has always mentioned. Rory not only asks her father about whether he thinks it is the right decision that Lorelai raised her alone, but also why he did not fight to convince Lorelai otherwise. Does Rory know she is pregnant at this point? And has she asked these questions not only to understand her father’s decisions, but also to potentially understand Logan’s or her own?
- Lorelai and Michel’s scene in the Secret Bar is a perfect encapsulation of Gilmore Girls’ blend ofhumour and whip-smart drama. It is a shame that we don’t get to see the resolution to this storyline. Is Michel really leaving? And if he is, who is his replacement at the Dragonfly? I also want Michel’s line “Your name is Molly. Why?” on a t-shirt.
- More Rory and Lane time needed.
- Rory and Lorelai making fun of overweight people at the pool seems a bit weird and overly cruel. But hey. Who are we to judge?
- Paris Geller remains the show’s secret weapon.
- I am all for the Wild book vs. movie running gag. I, like many women, also went through a phase of believing that hiking the Pacific Crest Trail could help mend a broken heart.
- I have always been #TeamJess and this revival only affirms my commitment to the cause.
- Emily leaving the (bullshit) DAR and moving to Nantucket is my one true love.
- Confession: I was smiling and crying throughout the entirety of Luke and Lorelai’s song (‘Reflecting Light’ by Sam Phillips) and I am not ashamed to admit it.