[All Photos Courtesy of Netflix]
DISCLAIMER: There are spoilers in this article, so if you haven’t watched it yet, go get on that, and then come back!
So if you actually thought this week was going to go by without a Gilmore Girls: A Year in The Life article, you were playing yourself. Whether you’re a devoted fan or your significant other forced you to sit through a four-day food coma and binge-watch each movie length episode of the revival, feelings were definitely felt. So let’s talk about them.
All that had to pop up was “A Netflix Original Series” in that FONT and I was on the verge of tears. That probably says more about my emotional instability than the show itself but I thought it was worth mentioning. Although the infamous “Where You Lead” by Carole King theme song was left out of the opening, the pan down from a snowed-in tree to the Stars Hollow billboard assured that we all felt like we were home. The entire build up to the first shot of Rory and Lorelei sitting at the gazebo had me shaking, but once we actually got there, I couldn’t help but feel… disappointed. On a different note, neither of them have aged, like, at all, so there’s that. But, aside from their scary lack of physical progression from 2007 to now, I was having trouble recognizing them as their characters. Alexis Bledel came across as detached from Rory, and maybe it’s because Amy Sherman-Palladino, the show’s creator, sort of just turned her into an extremely unlikable character.
She’s back in Star’s Hollow, now 32, and seems to be going through a mid-life crisis of some sort. Also, there’s the fact that she can’t keep a steady job, but also manages to fly out to London to visit Logan whenever she feels like it, so let’s hear it for the biggest plot hole of the century. In the original series, Rory was always a controversial character. She was the type of girl that was constantly praised for her intelligence, even though she really did nothing to earn it. She went to a rich private high school, got good grades, and then got into an Ivy League all with no financial struggles because her grandparents were crazy rich and paid her way through everything.
In transition, her character in the revival is a result of her entitled upbringing and, because of that, she sort of becomes the character that we never wanted to believe she was. Lorelei and Rory’s relationship is undeniably brilliant; their witty banter, their comfort with each other, and their unwavering support is one that always reminded me of my own mother, which is part of why audiences (me included) never wanted to hate Rory, because she is half of that beautiful dynamic. But, within the first thirty minutes of the revival, I realized I might hate Rory Gilmore, and you might, too.
However, the revival did pay a beautiful tribute to Richard Gilmore. Edward Herrmann, who played Lorelei’s father in the original series, died in 2014 and so, naturally, his character passes away as well. One of the most impactful shots of the series was Rory, Emily and Lorelei in the back of the limousine on the way to his funeral. Emily Gilmore, who was deemed unlikable in the original series, actually gave me the most hope in this first episode. Her character development throughout the revival was stunning, and her emotional delivery was the most convincing for me out of everyone that made a comeback.
I found that one of the most difficult parts of the revival for me was the endless useless storylines. Let’s do a quick run through.
1.) Rory’s current project is that she’s writing a biography on a psycho British woman. Cool, go Rory. Then, she’s not anymore because the lady was too psycho for her. And then…that’s it. There was no solid contribution that this plot point made in the grand scheme of things.
2.) THE LETTER. In one of Lorelei and Emily’s therapy sessions, Emily brings up the heinous letter that Lorelei wrote her, Lorelei denies it, and then they both storm out, and the letter is never discussed again. Who wrote the letter?! That sort of seems like a huge deal.
3.) You’re probably thinking, “When is she going to bring up whatever his name is?” Paul. His name is Paul, and I’ve been avoiding it because…what? Ever since the show ended, the whole #TeamJess, #TeamLogan, and #ScrewDean feud only seemed to grow. To me, bringing in this character, who appeared five times at maximum as someone that Rory is committed to, was a cop-out. It was a way to ignore the argument that fans have been having for years over who Rory should have ended up with, and I thought it was a cheap shot. Don’t even get me started on the fact that Rory is literally Logan’s mistress. I seriously just hope all these people are okay someday.
So, I know I just spent a lot of time tearing the revival apart, but I actually didn’t hate it. There were a lot of aspects that I thought were really beautiful and really brilliant.
The relationship in this season that had the most impact on me was Lorelei and Emily’s. When they show up, the two are in the middle of a fight over the fact that Lorelei disrespected her father during her tribute instead of saying something nice about him. The thing about their relationship throughout the revival that made it believable is how little it had changed. Through the whole first run of the show, you keep wanting it to get better. You want the picture-perfect ending where they fix all of those years’ worth of problems and come out stronger in the end. But, sometimes, that’s not how life goes. Sometimes people don’t resolve their issues, and even the strongest blood bonds can’t be completely repaired. At the end of “Fall,” the last episode of the revival, Lorelei delivers a beautiful monologue on the top of a hill, where she calls Emily and tells her the most fond memory she has of Richard.
She says it through tears, and it reminded me that, although Lauren Graham is a brilliant comedic actress, she might be just as good (if not better) as a dramatic one. After this simple exchange in which Emily responds with “Thank you, Lorelai,” the two are never seen together again. Emily’s ending in the show reveals closure and independence from everyone’s expectations of her, and Lorelei seems to finally be able to let go of the resentment she’s felt towards her parents (specifically Emily) all these years. The resolution between Emily and Lorelei wasn’t your typical happy ending, but outstanding conflicts in real life usually don’t have that. It was an agreement to love each other from afar, to each live their own lives the way they’ve always wanted to. There’s a sense of freedom that comes with that; a “no obligation, no guilt”-type of freedom.
“Fall” was, ironically, when I really started to get into the four-part event. The characters became more believable, and some original favorites finally made an appearance, such as Milo Ventimiglia (Jess) and Melissa McCarthy (Sookie).
Jared Padalecki (Dean) also came back for a brief moment, which is all I thought he really deserved until he got there. It’s safe to say Dean was everyone’s favorite “love to hate” character on the show. He was dull and entitled and pretty much embodies that one high school boyfriend that everyone had. However, the scene between Dean and Rory in Doose’s might have been my favorite throughout all four episodes. It starts with your classic “accidentally bump into each other and then exchange a witty comment about how crazy it is that you’re both where you are,” and, of course, Alexis Bledel is awkward as ever as she is in most of her Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life interactions. But, I immediately got a warm feeling from Dean, which was different than the vomit inducing pain in my stomach that I was used to. He goes on a rant about his kids and his wife (which was clearly the writers attempt at fitting as much information about him in without actually keeping him around for very long) and, although it was long-winded, it was the first time I felt like one of these characters had actually grown up. After he’s done talking about his family and things that actually matter, Rory asks if she can put him in her book, and starts going on this sad spiel about how he made her feel the safest she’s ever felt, and he was the best boyfriend alive…Rory honestly who made you so sad? Someone help this girl, please. I’M SO WORRIED FOR HER.
What struck me the hardest about this interaction is how not-hung-up Dean is on Rory. He doesn’t feel inclined to revisit their past or shower her in compliments; he just catches up with her and then he leaves. His character is funny and responsible, and it looks like he finally found himself. Maybe it’s an unpopular opinion, but Dean was the shining star of this revival.
I also think it’s worth mentioning that I’ve always been #TeamJess. Speaking of Jess, while I’m really sad that I only got to see his newly-jacked body for about 20 minutes. I’m also glad he wasn’t around long enough for them to completely milk his obsession with Rory. There was the scene at Rory’s desk where he shows up, inspires her to write a book, drops some sexy intellectuality, and then dips out. So, of course I think , “YES JESS MY LOVE YOU ARE SO MATURE AND GROWN UP AND EMOTIONALLY AVAILABLE, MY BODY IS READY FOR YOU.” And then, of course, Amy Sherman-Palladino and her minions have to throw in that small-but-extremely-telling shot of him gazing at Rory through the window, and then I was lost again because, just like everyone else, he clearly hasn’t moved on from the marvel and grace that is Rory Gilmore. Personally, I hated it. Please let Jess grow up and move on and find someone equally as brilliant as him.
There are so many things that I hated about Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. There were so many plot holes, awkward interactions, unconvincing dialogues, and, of course, the lack of resolution that came with the “I’m pregnant” from Rory at the end. But, even after all of that, I’m still glad I watched it, and I still feel like it was something I’m happy I experienced.
The revival used curse words and sexual innuendos, and even with everything negative mentioned, it evolved. It included current pop culture references and modern technology, and, in a way, I feel like it caught up with the rest of us. From 2007 to now, everyone who were original fans of the show have grown up. We’ve gone through heartbreaks, have had kids, have been accepted to colleges and rejected from others, graduated, and fallen in love, and watching this reboot felt like Gilmore Girls did the same. We picked back up with the show nine years later, and our lives are different than they were the first time we watched the last episode of the original series (whether that was years ago or weeks before the revival was released).
There is a sense of home that came with the original series. It’s a sense of comfort and warmth that draws fans in from the beginning. With Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, I felt that exact same sense of comfort. While there was no real closure at the end and there were a lot of conflicts that were unresolved, I still wasn’t unsatisfied because, in real life, things are rarely completely resolved, and closure isn’t common. We mature, we adapt, and we learn to live with the inconsistencies and the lack of perfection that makes everything worth it. In the last nine years, you’ve grown up and have changed, and so did your favorite show. Although the infamous four-word ending didn’t give us the picture perfect ending we wanted, life never does, either, and sometimes that’s okay.
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