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‘Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life’: Its Hits and Misses

16 years since its original premiere, the beloved Gilmore Girls returns through Netflix. I remember watching parts of the show on the WB. But then, I binge-watched the entire show on Netflix recently. So, it only makes sense that I’d binge-watch the new revival series, Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. For those who don’t know, the series revolves around three generations of women in the Gilmore family, Specifically, Emily, Lorelai, and Rory.

Compared to other sitcoms, Gilmore Girls is fast-paced and spouts pop culture references out of thin air. All written by power couple and creators, Amy Sherman-Palladino and Dan Palladino. Sadly, due to contract complications, they didn’t write the last season of the show, making the 2007 series finale bittersweet. Then, everyone came together once again at their 15-year reunion at the ATX film festival. There, the possibility and process of making it into a movie (or what turned into four movies) began. But just because Amy and Dan are brilliant writers, it doesn’t necessarily mean it would translate into a good ending. Just watch the How I Met Your Mother finale if you don’t believe me. But let’s get down to business, shall we? (Warning: spoilers ahead)

The Best Parts

Emily (played by Kelly Bishop), Lorelai (played by Lauren Graham) and Rory (played by Alexis Bledel) from 'Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life'

The nostalgia in the mini-series continues throughout. It begins with the show’s most iconic lines echoing while the actors’ credits appear, which is the best way to start. The scenery of Stars Hollow, its charming characters, and the speedy nature of their conversations remind us why audiences fell in love with the series.

Rory, throughout the show, somehow makes her living as a journalist. She travels back and forth from London to New York for work. Although she’s a terrible journalist (more on that later), her going through a mid-life crisis is exceptionally relatable.

An Homage to Edward Herrmann

Richard Gilmore played by Edward Herrmann from 'Gilmore Girls'

As most loyal fans know, Edward Herrmann, who played Richard Gilmore, sadly died in 2014. Therefore, the revival series carries a little more weight overall. Richard’s death becomes the catalyst that drives Emily and Lorelai’s overall development, thereby honoring the actor. Emily’s storyline revolves around how to move on with her life after Richard’s death and Lorelai’s relationship with her mother continues to face hardship.

This time around, Lorelai can’t come up with a good story about her late father. Emily finds this unacceptable, causing a rift between the two. In the end, Lorelai finally thinks of her 13th birthday. Lorelai skips school and Richard finds her at the mall. But she only did so because she (presumably) got her heart broken for the first time. Instead of calling Emily, Richard buys her a pretzel and takes her to the movies.

Familiar Faces

Logan (played by Matt Czuchry) and Rory (played by Alexis Bledel)  from 'Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life'

The four-episode mini-series also had its fair share of guest appearances. Cameos ranged from chefs to fellow cast members. Rachael Ray and Roy Choi fill in for Sookie (who also makes a small cameo), much to her dismay as they all rearrange her kitchen. Cast members of the short-lived Bunheads, another Amy-Sherman Palladino show, also show up in various roles. Additionally, Parenthood cast members also make a few short cameos.

The Long-Anticipated “Final Four Words”

(from left) Rory (played by Alexis Bledel) and Lorelai (played by Lauren Graham) sitting under the gazebo saying the infamous "four final words" of the series in 'Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life'

The series ends with the long-awaited final four words. For people who don’t know, Amy Sherman-Palladino’s always teased the final four words. She admits in numerous interviews that she’s always known how she wants the show to end. So, she’s been hanging onto those four words since 2006. Although most fans and critics alike criticize the ending, it’s partly why it made for 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, we discover the last four words:

“Mom? Yeah? I’m pregnant”.

Rory says this with the audience’s assumption that the baby is Logan’s. But this is after she cuts ties with him, after (finally) realizing that the affair would always be just that: an affair. Fans online have. therefore, criticized that it is, in a unique way, a retelling of Lorelai and Rory’s father, Christopher’s, story. Whereas others compare it to Emily and Richard’s story (as Richard was engaged when they met). But I find the ending realistic to some extent because history repeats 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.

Its Faults

Rory (played by Alexis Bledel) working on an article about waiting in lines, with guest star, Mae Whitman standing next to her from 'Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life'

Rory’s portrayed as an almost perfect child. In the past, she’s shown her immense ambition through her hopes of one day becoming a journalist. Strangely enough, she proves to be a terrible journalist. Throughout the revival series, she’s determined to get a job at Condé Nast but refuses all other offers until she finally realizes that her leads are coming up short. But when she does go in for a job interview with a new website, she comes unprepared. And it’s evident to the owner of that website, Sandee. After that interview fails, she goes to write a freelance article for GQ and ends up having a one-night stand with her source, a man dressed in a Wookie costume, no less. Needless to say, it’s all very unprofessional.

I also found the fact that Rory is dating two men at the same time surprising. First, there’s Paul, who is unfortunately incredibly forgettable (even she forgets to break up with him). Then, there’s Logan, her ex-boyfriend who’s 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 rationalized 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. 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.

The Luke and Lorelai of it All

Luke (played by Scott Patterson) and Lorelai (played by Lauren Graham)  from 'Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life'

It’s also strange that Luke and Lorelai still aren’t married (at least at the start of the mini-series). It’s not because I agree with Emily’s philosophy of marriage but because of Lorelai’s ultimatum from the end of season six. For those who don’t know, Lorelai proposes to Luke at the end of season five and after a year of being engaged, Lorelai begins to feel restless. The wedding keeps getting postponed, so she tells him to either marry her now or it’s over. Eight years later and they’re still together, but not married as well as no longer engaged. They’re essentially roommates as Emily puts it. 

A Poor Effort Towards Diversity

(from left) Kirk (played by Sean Gunn), Luke (played by Scott Patterson) and an unnamed Vietnamese man (actor unknown) arguing over a full roast pig in front of them from 'Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life'

Furthermore, Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life attempts to bring diversity to the screen due to their 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 is. The only real speaking parts that come from people of color are an unnamed Vietnamese man 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 a French black man. After much speculation in the past, we finally find out that he’s also gay.

In addition to that, there is a scene in the revival at a town meeting where Taylor (the town selectman) says they must postpone the gay-pride parade because there aren’t enough gay people. It’s hilarious but also unfortunately true in the entirety of the series. It is admirable for the writers to attempt to bring both diversity and LGBTQ+ culture to Stars Hollow. But it’s ultimately unsuccessful. They just combined both into Michel’s character and sprinkled some diverse extras in the background. We see colored people, but they aren’t featured as definitive characters. Additionally, LGBTQ+ culture is highly stereotypical. Especially in the Broadway-esque show that they hilariously try to put on. 

Final Thoughts

Lorelai (played by Lauren Graham) and Emily (played by Kelly Bishop)  from 'Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life'

Overall, their efforts to bring diversity to the screen are futile. A few of their plot points seem out of character in comparison to the old series but I think Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life perfectly captures the iconic nature that is Gilmore Girls. 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 to me is why Gilmore Girls, both the original television show and the new mini-series, is and always will have a special place in my heart. Therefore, despite its faults, Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life is still a success in my book.

This piece was originally posted on MyFantasySportsTalk on November 27th, 2016.

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