This piece took me a ridiculously long time to put together because of all the ambivalence the revival stirred. From excitement, to disappointment, on to hope and then disgust.
I was wildly excited when I first heard the announcement of a Gilmore Girls revival. But I have to admit that I didn’t really finish the show – I probably got busy with work – and I’m not even sure how it all ended, but seeing my feed fill up with Gilmore-related posts brought back so many happy memories. All I knew about the revival was that it would cover a year in the life of the Gilmores and be separated into the four seasons.
After the first two episodes (“Winter” and Spring”) I felt seriously underwhelmed. I wasn’t sure what I expected, but I had a sinking feeling that I wouldn’t finish my marathon. The first scene of the entire series has Lorelai meeting Rory after the latter flies in from London, and I’m immediately hit with the trademark Lorelai speech – unnatural, unrealistic, rapid-fire – that only serves to show off her supposed wit and most definitely is not meant to engage anyone else in conversation. Maybe this is why I stopped watching Gilmore Girls. Less than 5 minutes in and I’m already annoyed with Lorelai.
In Winter we learn that Rory is now a writer with a published piece in The New Yorker, flying back and forth between London and Stars Hollow. She has a casual hookup situation going on with Logan, but I don’t feel anything about it because like I said, I don’t even know how Rory’s love life was resolved in the original series. ( I think I should defend my decision of going into this revival without catching up on the original. I just didn’t have the time or energy to go through everything, and I thought I’d wing it through this revival. Which may even bring up some interesting, uninformed insights. Who knows.)
At this point I figured out one of the main things I’m missing. Where is the theme song? Hearing Carole King’s voice was one of the best things about the show and was like a beacon signaling home every week.
Because I was missing the theme song so much, I started noticing several things too. Was Michel always this irritating? And now I’m hating Logan. Actually I’m starting to dislike Rory too. Rory. Why are you allowing yourself to be, essentially, a mistress? And does Rory Gilmore have one-night stands with Wookies now? What is happening.
Maybe I should have waited until I was in a better mood before watching. This is bringing up flashbacks to my own ill-fated Felicity revival a few months ago. I started rewatching that show with my niece, and though Season 1 was still as good as ever, by the fourth episode of Season 2 I gave up. I’m sadly thinking that I’ve changed so much that the shows I thought were my touchstones no longer resonate with me.
I honestly thought I wouldn’t finish the remaining episodes. But they were just sitting in my computer, and I’m nothing if not OC, so the thought of leaving something unfinished cannot give me peace. So I powered through. After a week, I dove back in to “Summer”. Lorelai and her mother go into therapy, and I love that there seem to be more genuine moments between the characters. And that’s all thanks to Emily Gilmore, who is still the rock on which this show stands. Lorelai is a flake and Rory is an entitled baby, but Emily Gilmore is real and it took me this revival to realize that she has always been my favorite. The show got one thing right: the way it handled Richard Gilmore’s death (and Edward Hermann’s passing in real life). Kelly Bishop, who plays Emily, is amazing in her scenes. I don’t know if I’m just reading more into it than I should, but I can believe that her sadness is very real.
Gilmore Girls works best for me when it focuses on the relationship of Lorelai and Rory with Emily, because they can’t monopolize every scene with their forced “witty” banter. With Emily, they have to deal with real emotions, and these are the moments that make sitting through Lorelai’s hyper-verbosity worth it. There’s a scene at the end when Lorelai realizes that she doesn’t have her life figured out after all, and it was one of the few moments that she was likeable. It was building up through the episode, but when Sutton Foster sings “Unbreakable”, I have my own realization. Sixteen years ago when I first started watching, I identified with Rory, because who else was I supposed to identify with? I was just of out of college, trying to figure out what to do with my life. Sure, Rory was just starting college herself, but it was the same principle. And I was this bookish nerd like her too, so that’s where I was coming from. But now, I realize I have turned into Lorelai. This was the last scene from “Summer” which we know is setting up something major to happen in “Fall” and because of this one scene, the whole show is redeemed for me. Carole King also has a small role in this episode, and I figured that if I couldn’t get the theme song, at least I get Carole so it’s okay. She even has a funny scene where she sings “I Feel The Earth Move” and Taylor dismisses her song as not good enough. Hah.
Michel also tells Lorelai that he wants to leave the Dragonfly Inn that he’s been managing for Lorelai, and my irritation with Michel disappears in an instant. Two characters having another real conversation? This is monumental. These real moments make “Summer” easily the best episode of the four.
As for Rory’s boyfriends, Jess’ entrance was a bit lowkey and caught me off-guard. I also had no idea when Dean would show up, so when he did, it was a genuine surprise. It was also a surprise for me to realize how much I love Padalecki. I’ve been watching him in Supernatural for 11 years that I’d forgotten that before he was Sam, he was Dean. His one scene managed to be poignant and heartbreaking,
I thought I was Team Jess, but the moment I found out Dean was married I realized I was Team Dean all along. Padalecki played his one scene so well. As for Logan, well, he is nothing but a loser (did I mention that he is engaged to another woman? Did you hear that? He has a fiancee!) and the montage of him and his friends taking Rory on a night out was contrived and completely unnecessary.
So we finaly move on to “Fall”. I thought the one big thing here was Luke and Lorelai’s wedding. It turns out that it’s actually the famous last four words of the series.
Oh Rory. Roryyyyy. I wish I could say that I have great feelings about this bombshell, but my whole arc of watching this revival just ended on a pile of turd. The smart people of the internet posit that the baby is Logan’s, and since he is just like Rory’s father he will not be the right one for her. Dean is unavailable, which makes Jess the Luke to Rory’s Lorelai, thereby completing the circle.
To which I say, crap! Why does there have to be a circle? You would think that after a lifetime of being dysfunctionally joined to her mother at the hip, Rory would know better than to repeat the same shit Lorelai did. Apparently not. To be honest, I thought the baby would turn out to be Jess’, because in his last scene he gave Rory that lingering glance that I was sure meant something. But no matter how it turns out, it looks like Rory is going to end up with Jess, which is just trash. Not because I’m Team Dean, but because Jess deserves so much more than Rory! What are Rory’s redeeming qualities?
I’m thinking and I’m thinking and nothing comes to mind. Unless it’s being able to talk without opening her mouth. That’s Rory’s one big thing. Oh, and also whining. And making the same bad decisions as her mother.
Sigh. I was so optimistic after “Summer”. I thought I loved Gilmore Girls again. To be fair, I do love that Rory finally decided to write a book about her and her mom entitled – what else? – Gilmore Girls (the original title was The Gilmore Girls before Lorelai suggested dropping the “the”) because I enjoy it when shows get meta. And I’m glad that Emily gets a nice ending – she sells her house, quits the DAR and moves to Nantucket to be a whaling museum guide. Seriously, how cool is she? But it wasn’t enough. Even when I finally heard the theme song at the very end, I was essentially left just saying “Huh?” I was disappointed in the ending and in the fact that I felt emotionally manipulated and now I’m just drained. What an unenjoyable journey it’s been.
(Image from Netflix.com)