Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life Review
My eyeballs are still wide and the snack foods are still crusted to the plates from my binge watching of Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. (Sorry, I skipped the Pop-Tarts and Red Vines, and went with a baked brie and some stuffing and mashed potatoes all left over from yesterday’s Thanksgiving.) But here it is. My review of the four seasons of A Year in the Life. And, of course, my take on the final four words. I am also going to go ahead and update my previous ranking of every single Gilmore Girls episode to include Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall. (HINT: one of them makes it into the top ten!)
Please be advised, total SPOILERS ahead.
The seasons weren’t the only thread running through the four episodes that brought our girls back to us. Really, this “year in the life” was a throwback to season 4, during which all three Gilmore girls were struggling and, eventually, falling apart. Back then, Emily bought glass apples, and took up smoking in a silk robe. Lorelai ran out of a salon with wet hair and blubbered all over Luke’s shoulder. And Rory started an affair with Dean. Sigh. This time, as we travel through the better part of twelve months, we see Emily give away her belongings and wear jeans. Lorelai goes solo camping, more or less. And Rory has an affair with Logan. Sigh. Well, at least their characters are consistent in how they deal with life crises. This seems like a fitting place to pick up the story since we are witnessing the ladies violently evolve into the next phase of their lives.
Oh, Rory. You’re 34 and that whole journalism thing never took off for you. I feel so bad for her, and a bit curious that she never got a position at a paper, but it also seems like Rory has trouble settling in one place. For the last thirteen years she has been bouncing from home to home, continent to continent, and (apparently) lover to lover. So this is probably mostly self-sabotage. Still, I feel her pain. I also went through a period in my life trying to scratch out a living in the writing field by jumping from project to project. Lots of irons in lots of fires. But by age 30, I realized that it wasn’t working and I wanted more stability. Let’s just call Rory a slow learner on this subject. Well, and let’s plainly understand that the girl is undoubtedly living off of a trust fund or two–hence being able to casually afford plane tickets back and forth over the Atlantic Ocean a few times a week, and a Brooklyn apartment that was never lived in.
The Paul schtick was cute and modestly funny, but a little out of place. Yes, this is typical of Rory to hang on and beat up boytoys that she is too cautious to discard. But two years? Ouch. Poor Paul. And how on earth did these two hook up un the first place? Sadly, I think Paul stands out too much as a walking, talking recurring joke. He might as well be wearing a sign around his neck that reads, “plot device”. Still, I won’t kibitz, as this is far from the most offensive sin of the reboot.
And then there’s Logan. Even as a person rooting for Jess (don’t make me say “Team Jess”, please), I couldn’t help but squeee a little when I saw her and Logan romantically linked again. I mean, it felt weird knowing that Paul was in the picture, and knowing that the whole “no strings” plan isn’t Rory. We’ve been through this already. She needs strings. She wants strings. She is the biggest Pinocchio in the world. So we know already that is going to blow up.
Around town, my Kirk-filled heart was not disappointed when I learned about his continuing romance with Lulu and his new pig, Petal. And Kirk’s Ooober business was a highlight for me. I mean, Kirk’s already dabbled in the transportation industry before (remember the first Stars Hollow pedicab ride), so this seems like something he would absolutely try.
Over at the Crap Shack, Luke and Lorelai are in a common-law rut. Instantly I could feel my lungs seizing up in fear that this was going to be the heartbreaking drama of this reboot. I had terrible Charlie-in-the-trees flashbacks of that horrid season six. I can’t do it again. Fortunately or not, they started off really soft on the drama by…sending Luke and Lorelai to a surrogacy clinic that is owned and run by Paris Gellar? This is the ugliest, stupidest part of Winter. What the hell is Paris doing? And more importantly, what the hell are Luke and Lorelai doing? They had all of these years to make babies–during most of which Lorelai was probably totally fertile. But NOW? Now that they’re both nearly 50? Oh, this is not the way to get out of a rut, Lorelai, and all of your Lifetime movies should have taught you that. Thankfully, this plot thread dissolves very quickly. Of course, that means we wasted a giant chunk of Winter on a pointless and unfunny shtick.
The other big vein running through Winter, is, of course, Emily and her monumental grief. It felt appropriate and touching. Gods, I love Kelly Bishop. And the flashbacks felt like the way to go here.
Overall, this episode introduced us to some new storytelling and joke techniques that hadn’t been used much in the series previously. We got more flashbacks and a lot more background jokes. I like it. It feels like amping up the wall of noise and making the sound even fuller.
Points Lost For: Appearance of the real Paul Anka again. I hated that gag the first time. More Points Lost For: Why the hell did they cast Gypsy-in-a-bad-wig as the maid? It’s a pretty central role. So tacky. So unbelievable. It takes away from Emily’s whole arc. Points Awarded For: Digger! I still liked their relationship in all its brief glory. He looked good and classy (and I’ll ignore the fact that his character hates going to funerals and probably wouldn’t have come). More Points Awarded For: Alex Kingston. Her role was weird but delightful! Even More Points Awarded For: Throwing the bagels at Kirk’s Ooober head. That sequence made me snort. Go Lorelai.
And then came Spring. The spring where Paris and Rory go and visit Chilton. Yes, we needed it as part of our “remember when” tour, even though I’m not really sure what the hell Rory, Paris, Francie, and FakeTristan were doing there, and I’m really doubting Headmaster Charleston A.) remembers Rory that well (he’s old, there’ve been hundreds and hundreds of students since then), and B.) thinks that fondly or Rory that he gives her a blank teaching position check. Did they really bond that much previously? Does he do this for all of his students? I don’t know, Palladinos. You only get props for Liza Weil’s amazeballs bathroom door kick. And can I tell you? Paris is not still in love with Tristan. Nope. That’s not our Paris. She doesn’t carry torches.
Back in the Hollow, we got to see a town meeting (yay!), but, sadly, it was a pretty mean, creepy, and wrong town meeting (boo!). Why the hell are they trying to compile a list of gay people? And where did the whole gay pride parade kick come from? That never played out and was tacky.
So I don’t blame Lorelai and Rory for running away to New York for some fun line research. I guess. I’m having more deja vu as I imagine Rory researching a piece on music piracy right before a girl in a gorilla mask and a ballgown crossed her path. But instead of ending up at a cocaine-filled campout with a bunch of rich kids, Rory hits a bar with some strangers and sleeps with a Wookie. You know, I’m actually okay with this. Wookies need love, too. And Rory’s spiraling, and this is what spiraling (sort of) single 30-something women might do. Wookie love.
Speaking of Rory…goddamnit, Rory! He’s engaged? ENGAGED? This is so much worse than I first thought. Oy, she hasn’t changed. Rory, when you set your toys down you need to walk away and let other kids play with them. I’m only glad Papa Huntzberger popped in and gave them a good scare. Good to see him.
Notice how I’ve been avoiding the topic of the therapy? That awful therapy?? During which Lorelai is dressed and styled like a thirteen year-old going to church? It’s just awful. The therapist character is a terrible, unfunny addition to the canon of the show, and she seems really, really bad at her job. I really don’t know where they were going with this whole thing. Pointless. Boring. At least that gave me a chance to go pee, yelling over my shoulder “don’t pause it!”. Oh, and what in the name of Bootsy is up with that mystery hateful letter that Emily was talking about? Answers!
The Palladinos made up for this, of course, by showing us a new Kirk film starring Petal. Magnifique! I have to cling to Kirk’s film as my reason for including Spring in my rewatches. This episode just blew. I mean, I’m not exactly measuring it in kropogs, but it’s still pretty bad.
Awkward Suspension of Reality: Nope, there’s no way Lorelai magically gets free things all over the place from strangers. She isn’t 30 and rocking the size 2s anymore. Not to say she isn’t gorgeous, but she might, realistically, be past the point where men and Mae Whitman are dropping to their knees at the crook of her finger. I hate this idea that she’s just magical. Points Lost For: The cheesy-ass cameos by Rachael Ray and Mae Whitman. Gag. More Points Lost For: The over-the-top food antics at the Black, White, and Read Movie Theater. Daniel Palladino got way too cutesy here and it played badly.
Points Awarded For: The closing line of the episode–“Moving home!”. Perfect.
This episode actually starts off pretty great…and then slides down hill all the way until it crashes at the bottom and catches on fire. But, for all of the “I’m not back!” shouts, and for our Khaleesi, I give this episode a little bit of credit.
Rory and Lorelai are hanging out at the Stars Hollow pool, which is a fun and zany addition to the town. But what the hell is with the styling of Lorelai? Her hair has just been the worst–styled like she’s twenty instead of nearly fifty. And that dress?? I hate that dress above. Why is she wearing a long dress with long sleeves to the pool? I don’t mind one bit that Lauren Graham is a little more full-figured than she was a decade ago–in fact, I’m enjoying it in a sick way (still gorgeous!). But, woof! That styling makes her look insane and out of touch with her age and shape.
Rory’s working at the Stars Hollow Gazette. Sure, it’s very little money, but it’s a project of love that plays perfectly on her talents. Rory’s done plenty of the traveling places and sleeping with ex-boyfriends, so I’m happy for her to settle back in her home town with a respectable project. And since that trust fund should still be a good fat cushion underneath her ageless bottom, this seems perfect.
April Nardini is a wonderfully pretentious poser. I love that she’s kind of a wreck. I mean, yes, I still have hostility that she (inadvertently) wrecked Luke and Lorelai ages ago. But also, this is great revenge against that bitchy Anna. Plus it’s kind of real.
Oh, and don’t let me forget about Jess. Jess! He’s back and swooping in to save a floundering Rory with an inspiring message…again. His idea is mostly great (I mean, it does feel kinda Little Women, but okay.) and it is really nice to see the two of them catching up like that.
And then there’s the breakup with Logan which feels completely like it should–sad, but inevitable and right.
Okay, now we’re done with the sunshine and summer happiness. Because it’s time to address the stinking rotting corpse that is bloating in the summer heat–a corpse called Stars Hollow: The Musical. That fucking musical. Holy shit, was that bad. It was like an unfunny SNL skit that just wouldn’t end. The musical numbers! The random peeps we don’t care about! Let’s talk, Palladinos: If you’re going to go through with this gag, you have to cast Kirk, Lulu, Miss Patty, Babette, etc. You just have to. I swear, Sutton Foster must be finger banging ASP, because she had no business otherwise being in this show. Period. And why are we bringing in the therapist? Gods, make it end! I really, really hate Stars Hollow: The Musical, from the bottom of my very cold soul. Haaaaaaaate.
Awkward Suspension of Reality Moment #1: Wait, the therapist from Hartford is in Stars Hollow to audition for their musical? What the hell is going on with this therapist character? Awkward Suspension of Reality Moment #2: There’s no way the Gazette ran a headline about a single mom taking a job at the inn. It’s weird and unbelievable. Points Awarded For: The cute auto-dialing of Logan. Sure, their relationship is beyond shady, but Rory’s got some comic timing. Super Mega Points Awarded For: The Secret Bar!
After three dicey seasons of set-up, the magical Fall is where it all comes together and pays off.
Okay, yes, we do have to start off with Lorelai’s Wild trek, which was out of character and just plain pathetic. But, on the other hand, I think Lorelai knows it’s pathetic and this is the breakdown that was coming ever since her dad died. So, I guess I’ll take it. But I wish she had come to her epiphany about her life–and that amazingly sweet story about her father (tear squish)–just a little quicker.
Oh, and Sookie popped by, didn’t she? Ya know, she might as well have not bothered. In fact, I wondered what they cut to make room for that pointless dreck. That’s going to bug me.
Then there’s my favorite part of the whole reboot: The Life and Death Brigade attack Rory is what is the most beautiful and whimsical (if criminal and overindulgent) night of Rory’s life. It really was breathtaking–and apparently, eventually, very key to the big plot! I adored this sequence, from the music and beautifully shot scenes, to Rory’s goodbyes with all of them, including the funny and touching Wizard of Oz farewell. Damn you, imaginary Odette! Why must you supposedly exist? WHY???
Back at the Crap Shack, when Lorelai busts in and proposes to Luke all over again amidst is swearing and pleading, I love it. These two have come so far, and this is how it should’ve gone down at the end of season six. Sure, ASP has not gotten over her fear of the “L” word, or kissing, for that matter. But otherwise, it was great. Part of me had an experience while watching this, as if Luke represented all the fans, and we were swearing and shouting at Lorelai as Palladino. So, some imaginary catharsis. Cool.
Now, let’s talk about Emily. Oh, you brilliant, badass woman! After years of playing the role of the good, proper wife, she strikes a blow for herself! She blows up at the D.A.R (D.A.R.N.!) and sells her house to move out to the ocean and teach scary-ass, hilarious classes at the whaling museum, all while she cares for this maid’s family. Her heart seems to have grown now that she’s out from under the wifely pressures she had put on herself for all of those years. This really is a full-circle arc that reveals how much like her mother Lorelai really is. Emily was better at playing her part for all those years, but finally she broke away from the uppercrust shackles and struck out on her own. Emily’s been struggling with this for years and always resented her role as hostess just a little bit. Whenever she yelled at Richard for undervaluing her contribution of organizing frivolous tea parties, we all understood that she was embarrassed for herself. Emily always had more in her, and now she gets to bloom.
Over at the (pre-sale) Gilmore house, Rory wends her way through the empty house as we listen to the ghostly lines of episodes past. Knowing what the final four words are now, this scene takes on a whole new gravity. It’s apparent that Rory knows by now that she’s pregnant. So she isn’t just revisiting her childhood and memories, she’s also saying goodbye. She knows everything is going to change. The artistic style of this is touching and made me leak a little eye juice–even if, again, it totally stole from Little Women and Jo’s remembrances.
Christopher’s pop-up also makes more sense now that we know about Rory’s pregnancy. As soon as I heard her pepper Christopher with questions about his choices to let Lorelai parent alone, I suspected she had motivations outside of her chapters. If you want insight into Logan’s future role, go and rewatch the Christopher scene. In doing so, I forget my old and stale anger for Christopher, and instead just feel a little heart-broken for them all.
And then there’s the wedding. How beautiful! It was artistically done, magical, and simply perfect. I loved the reminiscent music, the ethereal quality of the whole thing, and the waltz. The waltz! Weddings have never failed in Stars Hollow, and this was the best of all. The lead-up to the wedding was a little scattered, and part of me wants to think that Luke staged the whole thing–that Kirk’s panic was faked, knowing that the girls would insist on hanging around and would overhear the drama. That Luke knew where the kitchen table talk would lead. That he maybe even gave the reverend a heads up that this would take place. In any event, one of the more subtle and touching moments was the dining room debate over flash mobs and Steely Dan. Their table babbling was something usually only Lorelai and Rory did together. So, letting Luke step into that role and make Lorelai happy was really poignant and lovely.
Now, on to the FINAL FOUR WORDS! So, ASP wanted Rory preggo right out of college. But now, Rory’s probably going to do the single parent thing while working at the Gazette and maybe doing a book tour. I love this image. I love that Rory’s life has not gone according to plan. I’m glad that she is having a child. I’m glad that it’s Logan’s and maybe he can dump Odette and start his life with Rory. I’ve been more of a “Team Jess” person mostly, but I really want to root for these two. And I’m just going to ignore the reality that stumbling, crumbling, messy-life Rory apparently failed to use contraception properly while having an affair with an engaged man. I mean, they took her by surprise, so maybe she let the pill lapse, thinking she was out of the Logan and Wookie business for a while? Yes, let’s go with that, because I don’t want to even consider the possibility that Rory was desperate enough to ensnare Logan with an intentional baby. Nope. Definitely an accident. (Right?)
It’s fantastic that the reigning Lorelai will now be a grandmother (because, yes, sadly Lorelai, you did wait too long–even Rory was starting to get a little long in the uterus for the baby possibility). She now gets the little fussy bundle of baby to play with, but without starting all over again.
And because Lorelai blazed the trail, Rory won’t ever be on her own for this new adventure. She will have not only her mom and Luke and her grandmother, but really, a whole town that will support her. Emily will be thrilled–she finally gets to see the blue-eyed little kid she once dreamed about between Rory and Logan. But maybe it’s okay that Papa Gilmore didn’t live to see this? It would’ve been a bitter pill to watch him mentally relive all of his moments of wounded pride, and he wouldn’t have gotten it. Still, Papa Gilmore would’ve loved that baby.
There is just so much possibility here. I crave more. So much more! Man, if the Stars Hollow gods are kind, please let there be continuing episodes.
Awkward Suspension of Reality Moment: So they pull Lane out of bed for the elopement, but not Sookie or Jackson? This is eight kinds of awkward. Points Lost For: Cameos by Peter Krause and Jason Ritter from Parenthood. Fuck you, cameos. Quit bringing us out of the moment. This is our show, not yours! Points Awarded For: Emily swearing. Emily said “tits”!!!! More Points Awarded For: Michel’s greeting of Sookie, “You bitch!”