If Gilmore Girls was your favourite dish, then Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life would have to be that same dish with tons of salt, pepper, and bitter lime randomly added to it. It overkilled. I grew up watching Gilmore Girls in a house with four women, lots of glitter, noise, both good and bad, and tons of jumping up and down. I was in high school when I discovered it, and continued to watch it almost daily throughout college. I suffered alongside the global fan base through the 7th season and was over-the-moon excited while waiting for the revival. And after watching it, I felt completely betrayed by the storyline and felt that the Palladinos have successfully killed Rory, albeit leaving the story wide open for future episodes. But was it worth it? (Spoilers will follow)
Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life was over-eager to please and it didn’t feel like the original show, it lacked its just-hanging-around feel, it took the pop references and brought them to the present – leaving us, non-US fans, in the dark, it made inappropriate jokes and unpacked little pockets of mystery that were part of the show’s appeal – like showing us a glimpse of Lane’s dad (who, in my mind, was already the Mrs. Columbo of the show), or settling once and for all that Michel was indeed gay (I found the ambiguity to be funnier, just like the possibility that he was straight but a metro-sexual, hip guy – much more interesting considering the racial stereotypes straight black men are subjected to in American cinema & TV).
The interviews/reunions prior to the première proved, to me, at least, that Amy Sherman-Palladino/writer is not someone I would like to have a rum-ball with, and that both, Amy and Lauren Graham/Lorelei Gilmore, have no chemistry with Alexis Bledel/Rory Gilmore – even more than that, the tension/animosity towards her is almost palpable (a different point, for another time).
The revival gave everyone in the show a character arc with a shiny bow on top, from Emily, who goes thousands of light years out of character and decides to move to Nantucket and take up a job, to Lorelei, who gets her happy ending with Luke, to Lane, who seems happy and settled in her life. Lauren Graham/Lorelei Gilmore felt more like her Parenthood character, Luke’s storyline was dumb and superficial, any young(er) character featured in the show – from Rory, to Paris, to April, to Clara, or even Clara’s boyfriend (the list can continue!), was visibly ridiculed. Except for Lane.
But the Palladinos were set to prove us that history is cyclical and that the younger generations – millennials and generation Z, are incapable of escaping 1) their past and 2) their own generational pitfalls. Given that the show’s main audience – at least in Eastern Europe, falls exactly within the lines of these two generations, the storyline came across as lacking true psychological and social insight, and, quite frankly, as offensive.
But the biggest off key is by far Rory’s downfall. So how did the revival write Rory’s obituary? It killed off some of her major characteristics, built over 7 seasons.
- Her work ethics: throughout the four episodes, Rory is drifting. Understandable, given the fact that she is a journalist. But she shows up unprepared for two interviews, she sleeps with a random guy/article source, she smack-talks to Logan about her eccentric book partner, she seems incapable of writing an article based on an editor’s vision, because she “doesn’t feel it” (really? Ivy League Education and 10 years later she is not a good enough writer to rise above personal preferences?), she is incapable of closing a deal – any deal (!!!).
- Her intelligence: the writing makes evident that this was not Rory-the-smart, this was Rory-the-lazy, and the Rory-devoid-of-any-original-thought. The writers didn’t give her a chance.
- She has no ideas for her interview pitch,
- She tries to change the Stars Hallow Gazette but pulling the poetry out turned out to be a big mistake and she has to backtrack,
- She didn’t even come up with the idea of the book, it was Jess’ idea,
- Lorelei suggests she loses the “The” from the book title, it’s “cleaner”.
- Her planning skills: we’ve seen the sings in previous seasons, being a little late here and there, and overall more relaxed about her rules. But even when she was truly struggling, like doing community service, she was still organized and managed to pulled the others her way. That Rory is long gone. She is now moving without labelling her boxes, and content living a “vagabond existence”.
- Her love for celebrations and planning parties for Lorelei: Rory doesn’t plan/help plan Lorelei’s wedding party, Kirk does. Rory was at home, we all know how she loves doing this, how she loves dressing up for parties and special days, and, of course, how she loves Lorelei. So why didn’t she plan Lorelei’s wedding?
- Her relationship morals: she made mistakes in the past, but all within a well built moment, that psychologically, made sense. She is now cheating on her boyfriend with Logan, who happens to be engaged – and she knows about it. Having a one-night stand, and overall, acting like someone completely different and foreign to us, the audience. And no, past events and her past choices are not indicative of her present state of amorality and lack of empathy.
- Her own path: it’s a Lorelei World, we just happen to stumble in it. Much like Rory.
Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life managed to completely destroy Rory Gilmore, all for the sake of a principle: history repeats itself, “Where you’ll lead, I will follow”. Being pregnant wouldn’t have been that bad – and it’s not the end of the world, anyway. But in the context of the revival, given how they decided to portray her, it is a bad thing that, among other things, also annihilates all of Lorelei’s sacrifices.
Maybe the writers should have listened to their own advice and not pull the “poetry” out from the first page of the “Stars Hallow Gazette”. Maybe the point was also to design an ending open for future episodes. However, it might be a little too late. Because when you cross to the other side and write purely for your ego or purely for money, or a mix of both, you break your bond with your audience.
Thanks for the effort. I stick to the 7th season ending.
Photo copyright: Netflix.
PS The best thing in the revival, the Unbreakable song. Wouldn’t it have been nice for Rory to also hear it?