The Return of the Gilmore Girls: Its Hits and Misses
Just a Little Background
After just over 16 years since its first episode aired, the beloved Gilmore Girls has returned due to the wonder that is Netflix. This is especially heartwarming to fans like me; someone with the slight nostalgia of watching it as a child on the WB and then going to watch the show in its entirety by binge watching on Netflix. So it only makes sense that I’d binge watch the new revival series aptly titled, Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. For people who aren’t super fans like me, the series revolves three generations of women in the Gilmore family and their lives: Emily, Lorelai, and Rory.
What made the show so iconic compared to other sitcoms is the fast pace and pop culture references, written by power couple and creators, Amy Sherman-Palladino and Dan Palladino. Sadly, they were replaced in 2005 due to contract complications which made the show’s conclusion in 2007 more than a little bittersweet. Thus came the cast and creators coming together once again at the ATX film festival in Austin last year for their 15 year reunion where the possibility and process of making it into a movie, or what essentially turned into 4 movies, began. But just because Amy and Dan were brilliantly witty writers, it doesn’t mean the same would necessarily translate into writing an ending. Just watch How I Met Your Mother if you don’t believe me. But let’s get down to business, shall we? (Warning: spoilers ahead)
The Best Parts
The nostalgia in the mini-series is continual starting with the beginning of the first episode, Winter, with just the audio of the most iconic lines from the original series against a black screen and the actors’ credits, which I think is the best way to start. The scenery of Stars Hollow, its charming characters, and the speedy nature of their conversations remind audiences why audiences alike fell in love with the series in the first place.
As most loyal fans know, Edward Herrmann, who played grandfather Richard Gilmore, sadly passed away in 2014 which caused the revival series carry a little more weight. The mini-series honors him by creating a funeral scene for him as well as his death being the catalyst that drives Emily and Lorelai’s overall development in the mini-series. Emily’s story line revolves around how she must move on with her life after Richard’s death and Lorelai’s relationship with her mother continues to be fractured due to her inability to come up with a good story about her late father. At the end of the series, Lorelai finally thinks of her 13th birthday and how Richard bought her a pretzel at the mall after getting her heart-broken, presumably for the first time.
The four episode mini-series also had its fair share of guest appearances that ranged from chefs like Rachael Ray filling in for Sookie (who also makes a small cameo) to cast members of the short-lived Bunheads, a show also created by Amy Sherman-Palladino, and Parenthood, a beloved show that starred leading lady Lauren Graham.
Rory, throughout the show, has somehow been making a living as a journalist who travels back and forth from London to New York for work. Although she’s proven as being a terrible journalist (more into that later), the idea of her going through somewhat of a mid-life crisis is exceptionally relatable.
The series comes to a close with the long-awaited final four words. For people who don’t know, Amy Sherman-Palladino has admitted in numerous interviews that she’s known the final four words of the entire show and has thus been hanging onto them since 2006. Although most fans and critics alike criticize the ending, I think that that’s partly why it made a good ending. The show ends with Lorelai and Rory sitting under the gazebo as the sun comes up after Luke and Lorelai’s wedding. Then, the last four words are revealed to be “Mom? Yeah? I’m pregnant” and the screen fades to black. Rory says this with the audience’s assumption that the baby is Logan’s, who she cuts ties with after (finally) realizing that their affair would always be just that; an affair. Fans online have therefore criticized that it is, in its own unique way, a retelling of Lorelai and Rory’s father, Christopher’s story and others have compared it to Emily and Richard’s story. But I find the ending realistic to some extent because history has a way of repeating itself. And as frustrating as the conclusion is, it leaves the audience wanting more which I think seems to be what everyone strives for in the world of entertainment.
Rory has always been a character who is seen as an almost-perfect child. In the past, she’s shown as ambitious in her hopes of one day becoming a journalist. But strangely enough, she proves to be a terrible journalist. Throughout the revival series, she is determined to get a job at Condé Nast but refuses all other offers until she finally realizes that her leads there are coming up short. But when she does go in for a job interview with a new website, she comes unprepared which becomes evident to the owner of said website, Sandee. After that interview fails, she goes to write a freelance article for GQ and ends up having one-night stand with her source, who was dressed in a Wookie costume.
What I also found surprising was the fact that Rory is dating two men at the same time: Paul, who is unfortunately incredibly forgettable (even she forgets to break up with him) and Logan, her ex-boyfriend who engaged to a French heiress. The situation reminds me of when Rory and her first boyfriend Dean got back together while he was still married. Regardless, Rory and Dean were in a more adult relationship, rationalizing their affair with the fact that they loved each other. In addition to that, both felt guilty and the entire situation proved to be incredibly complicated for everyone involved. But in the revival series, it’s not explained as to why Logan and Rory got back together in the first place but regardless, they still seemed a little too comfortable in their “when we’re together, we’re together, when we’re not, we’re not” situation.
Another thing that slightly confused me was the fact that Luke and Lorelai still weren’t married. It’s not because I agree with Emily’s philosophy of marriage but because of Lorelai’s ultimatum that she gave Luke at the end of season 6. We saw Lorelai propose to Luke at the end of season 5 and after a year of being engaged, Lorelai began to feel restless because the wedding seemed to be postponed indefinitely, so she tells him to marry either marry her now or it’s over. Eight years later and they are still together but not married as well as no longer engaged, or roommates as Emily puts it.
Furthermore, Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life attempts to bring diversity to the screen due to their considerably obvious reflection of white culture in the early 2000s. But although there are glimpses of colored people in the background, especially during the international food fair, unfortunately that’s all there really is. The only real speaking parts that come from people of color is a Vietnamese man, whose name is not given, and Michel, the concierge of the Dragonfly and close friend of Lorelai’s. The Vietnamese man’s only lines consist of him arguing with Kirk about roasting a whole pig. Michel is a character from the original series and is a French black man who, after much speculation in the past, is revealed to also be a gay man. In addition to that, there is a scene in the revival at a town meeting where Taylor, the town selectman, is saying how they have to postpone the gay-pride parade because there just aren’t enough gay people, which is hilarious but is also unfortunately true in the entirety of the series. It is admirable for the writers to attempt to bring both diversity and gay culture, to Stars Hollow as well as combining the two into Michel’s character but its results are sadly unsuccessful. Colored people are shown but aren’t featured as a definite character and gay culture is shown as being highly stereotypical, especially in the Broadway-esque show that they hilariously try to put on.
Overall, their efforts to bring both diversity and gay culture to the screen prove to be futile. A few of their plot points seem out of character in comparison to the old series but I think the iconic nature that is Gilmore Girls is captured perfectly. The witty dialogue and the constant bursts of pop culture references in charming Stars Hollow bring nostalgia and all-around warmth to both the old and new audiences of Gilmore Girls. That in itself to me is why Gilmore Girls, both the original television show and the new mini-series, is and always have a special place in my heart and therefore a success.
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