As someone who grew up with my nose always stuck in a book, I was predisposed to like Gilmore Girls. Not just because of all the literary references and discussions, but because, like the books of my childhood, I become completely absorbed in the world the author has created. In the case of Gilmore Girls, the author is Amy Sherman-Palladino and the world is Stars Hollow. It is a comforting place to return to time and time again.
As with any show returning (I’m looking at you X-Files), long-time fans have high hopes for seeing their favorite characters again. While many long-time fans and viewers complained about the hour and a half episode format feeling too long, while others wanted more Jess or Sookie or Lane, taking a step back from the details, I thought overall the return to Stars Hollow was better than expected, especially the stories for the Gilmore triumvirate.
(A Year In the Life did make me remember I’ve never been a fan of Daniel Palladino’s take on Stars Hollow. He is obsessed with the town characters and events, but not the charming ones. The ones like the Bracebridge Dinner or the Festival of Living Art. This time we had to endure the Stars Hollow musical taking screen time away from more important characters.)
Watching the show when it originally aired, first on the WB and then the CW, I was only a year older than Rory. Her growth from a quiet, shy bookworm to a more assertive young woman (who was still quiet and shy) was familiar to me. Her dreams and wishes for her life were similar to mine. She wanted to be a journalist, so did I.
In the new episodes of Gilmore Girls: A Year In the Life, released Friday, Rory is now 32. So am I. Prior to the revival, most people were discussing what “Team” they were on in terms of Rory’s boyfriends. Team Dean, Team Jess, or Team Logan.
I’ve never been a fan of any of Rory’s boyfriends, so I was Team Rory. Besides, with an almost ten year gap between season 7 and the new episodes, it seems the likelihood of someone ending up with their high school or college boyfriend would grow increasingly rare. But this is Stars Hollow, not the real world.
Some viewers were disappointed at the return of Logan and the casual, years long relationship he and Rory had apparently shared, despite her having a boyfriend of two years and Logan being engaged to a French heiress.
Although I would have been happy to see Rory on her own, thriving in her career or trying to figure out her next steps, I have to admit the longevity of her relationship with Logan is realistic. (I don’t condone her no strings thing with him, but it is her prerogative.) Ten years after graduation, Rory is still in the journalism world and her ex-boyfriend is also. Although Logan is in London and Rory seems to be mostly working out of New York, the journalism sphere shrunk considerably in 2008, so it makes sense they would stay in touch, if only in the professional networking sense. They are both Yale alums and his family is powerful and important.
While I wish the show let Rory be on her own or have someone new in her life besides the forgettable Paul, with only four episodes to tell a full circle story, it made sense why Sherman-Palladino chose not to introduce a new love interest for Rory.
I’m going to leave the last four words of the show for later.
Even though I grew up alongside Rory, I’ve always been way more of a Lorelai fan. Upon rewatching old episodes, her stubbornness and anger at her parents, particularly her mother, Emily, is not always justified, but family dramatics is the Gilmore way.
Lorelai, who has spoken of her strained, distant relationship with her father, Richard, throughout the series, couldn’t come up with a nice memory of him when a) put on the spot and b) drunk on scotch.
After all this time, Lorelai still lets her mother get into her head. Emily keeps referring to Lorelai’s relationship with Luke as roommates, since they are living together and not married. She questions Lorelai about whether she ever asked Luke if he wanted more kids.
I was worried Lorelai’s sudden interest in surrogacy would lead to her being headstrong and blind to Luke’s claims he was happy being a part of Rory and April’s lives and didn’t want more kids and her desire to have another kid would destroy their relationship. Thankfully, surrogacy was mostly used as a plot device to bring Paris back into the fold.
Lack of communication has always been an issue between Luke and Lorelai, even before they were together as a couple, so their absence of sharing was worrisome, but not unusual.
Lorelai’s sudden desire to recreate Wild was logical for someone who had just lost her father and in another sense, her best friend. In fact, I thought it was an interesting way to tell a story of someone who is depressed without her going through depression. (I say this as a person who struggles with depression.) Lorelai didn’t feel completely satisfied with her life, but wasn’t able to put her finger on exactly why she felt this way, a feeling with which I am intensely familiar. She is happy with Luke to a certain extent, but even her happiness with him begins to grow distant as she weathers some big life changes and uncertainty about her career and the inn.
Her solo trip, even though she didn’t actually get to hike the Pacific Rim Trail, was what she needed to get perspective on her life. Sometimes you do need a break—it doesn’t have to be as big as hiking the Pacific Rim Trail–to discover the things you forget to be thankful for in the day in, day outness of life.
Although I was satisfied seeing Lorelai and Luke living together, the pre-wedding wedding scene was absolutely perfect, between the “Reflecting Light” call back and the new dreamy dance sequence. Sherman-Palladino finally gave Luke and Lorelai a much more obvious happy ending than the conclusion given to them in season 7.
Emily’s storyline is one we see rarely. Film and television seldom feature older women at all, much less women dealing with the death of their spouse. How does a woman who spent over 50 years of her life with the same man continue on?
I would have never thought of the senior Gilmores leaving Hartford or their home, but it made complete sense this is what Emily would have to do to start her life over after Richard’s passing.
Lorelai seemed softened by her Richard’s death and so too was Emily. Emily, when Richard was alive, would never take in a new maid and her whole family. She wouldn’t have eschewed the blue blood, upper crust world of DAR meetings and colonial artifacts and found a job as a museum docent, talking to parents and their children.
But lest we think Emily has turned into a complete pile of goo, we still see the old Emily when she insists Luke and Lorelai come to visit her in Nantucket during the summers and at Christmas.
All three Gilmore women experienced soul searching journeys in way or another, which is why, even though the show seems fantastical with small town Stars Hollow and quippy, fast-moving dialogue, it can also be poignant and grounded.
The last four words of the show? Even though I gasped, not as shocking or life changing as it first seems. Instead, it’s a simple reminder that life moves on. There are road bumps and smooth stretches, and these characters will continue to grow, whether we are there to witness it or not.