It’s a show about a mother and daughter who are best friends. Gilmore Girls is a cult TV series recognised for its fast-talking, coffee-addicted, junk food-obsessed duo Lorelai and Rory Gilmore. We have been awaiting the return of the small snow globe town for nine long years, and all that comes with it: Sam Phillip’s iconic ‘la-la-la’ melodies, the unyielding and disapproving Emily Gilmore and all the eccentric yet endearing characters of Stars Hollow. As the camera pans over the picturesque Stars Hollow covered in a white blanket of snow to reveal Lorelai Gilmore clutching onto a cup of coffee under the gazebo, a nostalgic smile begins to appear and we are immediately transported back to 2007.
The excitement and hype for A Year in the Life has been building exponentially since a revival was announced nearly a year ago. And it is clear that what we have now is a love letter from the Sherman-Palladinos to those who have waited nearly a decade to see endings done correctly. It begins in early 2016, four months after Richard Gilmore’s death, a change forced by the passing of Edward Herrman in 2014. His death, both real and character, serves as an engine for the miniseries as Sherman-Palladino makes the grand gesture to not shy away from the pain and grief, but to produce four 90-minute episodes sincerely filled with more raw emotion than ever before. Performances from each Gilmore generation tell us that Rory is feeling her age, Lorelai is succumbing to her mortality and Emily is struggling to lead the life she once led with her 50-year-long companion. I must admit, the vulnerability in Kelly Bishop’s adept performance as a heartbroken widow in the four-part dramedy drew me to tears many a time throughout. It is deeply painful to watch her mourn but we catch glimpses of her former impertinence during therapy sessions when she proceeds to cut Lorelai to the core with her vicious words.
As for the others, they remain weird but wonderful: Kirk continues to experiment with his questionable business endeavours, Taylor is still campaigning for something almost everybody disagrees with, Ms. Patty lives vicariously through the girls at her ballet school, Gypsy is haranguing Lorelai to buy a new car (yes, she’s remained loyal to her cherished Wrangler), and town troubadours resume squabbling their territory.
Despite wanting to remember Stars Hollow as the idyll oasis that seems cut off from the rest of the world (as reinforced by Rory’s classic flip phone), even this Connecticut town has given in to trends of modern life making references to Wi-Fi, Über, and Twitter and acknowledging the technological revolution. But Lorelai makes her feelings perfectly clear raging, “I don’t need some cool guy running around tweeting and making me feel uncool at my own in.” That’s the Lorelai we know and love!
Reminding myself that there is much more good than bad, I must say, there were also things that left me disappointed. In the opening shots of Winter, it seems it takes the girls a couple of minutes to get back into the swing of things. As a viewer, I feel as though I am watching actors and not the characters. After references to zits, humus, and Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop, “Wow winded,” Rory concedes. Lorelai then reminds us, “Haven’t done that in a while.” However, my sentiments are loyal to Rory’s… Oh boy does it feel good to have them back!
I can’t help but feel cheated that too much time was unnecessarily dedicated to the purposefully rotten Stars Hollow Musical and Life and Death Brigade storylines. Yes, Finn, we love you but those golden minutes could have been spent catching up with old friends. In the real world, I know reasons for this were largely due to actors’ scheduling conflicts, but the absence of the most adored characters (*cough* Sookie St. James *cough*) were agonisingly obvious. Sookie’s slapstick comedy and sister-like friendship with Lorelai is sorely missed while her departure is revealed through lengthy conversations between Michel and Lorelai. Irrespective of a mere five minutes on-screen, her return was, for me, one of the best scenes of the revival.
My final and most severe issue is with Rory and those Final Four Words. Rory is now 32, the same age as a Lorelai when the series began back in 2000. Rory’s entire plot feels as though it was created for a character in her early 20s. Despite being a hard workingwoman with an Ivy League degree, she is homeless, jobless and underwear-less (a running joke throughout the show). It was a very brave decision for Amy Sherman-Palladino to draw attention to the failures, setbacks and bad decisions of young girl viewers once thought so innocent and driven. To see her fall like this is tragic. Now, she can’t even remember she has a boyfriend long enough to stop cheating on him with her Yale ex-boyfriend Logan, who, by the way, is engaged to someone else. I know, like me you are probably sat there thinking, Rory, did you not learn anything from the whole Dean debacle?! Furthermore, her relationship with her grandfather was one of the prevalent notions in the original run, yet any mention of her connection to or grievance of dear Richard seems vague.
She spends an entire year ‘On The Roading it’, as Lorelai so eloquently put it, trying to find work where there is none and floating from thing to thing with no drive to do any better. It is only when our favourite ex-boyfriend Jess shows up (because let’s face it, who isn’t Team Jess?) and reignites the fire within Rory (again) that she suddenly snaps back into focus. We can’t help but think it seems only fitting that writing a book is the perfect way to wrap up the youngest Gilmore’s story.
WARNING: MAJOR SPOILER ALERT!
And those Final Four Words??? I guess it came full circle.
Rory: I’m pregnant.
We can only assume that Logan is the father… And the cryptic scene where Rory asks Christopher for his perspective on Lorelai as a single mother, whom we initially mistake to be part of Rory’s book research, finally makes sense. It appears Logan is to Rory what Christopher was to Lorelai. On the bright side, Rory is a woman with access to the Gilmore wealth and empire; she will have the aid and support from which Lorelai fought so hard so distance herself. All we can hope for as the adventures and lives of the Gilmore Girls become mere fragments of our imagination is that she does indeed have a baby girl and she becomes the fourth reigning Lorelai.
All in all, there were a few quirks but Gilmore girls: A Year in the Life was worth the wait. All endings, apart from the one, are tied: Luke and Lorelai finally have their wedding, Emily Gilmore finds peace in her new life in Nantucket, and Stars Hollow is still the heartwarming and cosy town in which everyone wishes to live.