Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life — Winter

Ten years after the Season 7 finale, we are back in Stars Hollow, our little New England town that seemed to get nuttier and yet more endearing with every festival and tradition-fuelled shenanigans. Hell, I’ve even missed Taylor — but only a little bit. The Netflix revival was a highly anticipated event, with the enduring fanbase to boost it to the top of the ratings stats for a single-day release. All four episodes went live on Nov 25, worldwide, and so the Internet has been a-buzz with what it all means and what’s going to happen next (if indeed anything is going to happen).

Let’s get to it, shall we?

Rory, who’s been jetsetting it back and forth between the US and London, for reasons we shall discover later, is visiting Stars Hollow for one measly day. The Reigning Lorelai, meanwhile, is revealed to still be with Luke, they’ve been living together in Lorelai and Rory’s old house for years now. Emily, the family’s formidable leading lady, has lost Richard (played by Edward Hermann, who died in 2014) and has been grieving alone, mostly, since she and Lorelai are not currently on speaking terms.

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I appreciate that they gave Richard — and thus, Ed Hermann — a proper sendoff instead of, say, explaining away his frequent absences with travel or appointments or afternoons at the club. It would have been disingenuous to do so, and an insult to his memory. He was important to his co-stars as well as to the fans, and it was a vital consideration that he be remembered in this way, and that we be afforded a chance to say goodbye. As Kelly Bishop has said in a recent interview, while she missed Ed dearly during filming, it’s also a storyline that shakes up the status quo for her character in a big way. First, however, we must contend with the funeral and the way Richard’s passing affects Emily and Lorelai. Lorelai’s been neglecting to tell Rory about what happened at and after the wake. While everything seemed to be going fine, with Emily profusely grateful at Lorelai offering to stay, everything then went to hell in handcart when, wrongfooted and inebriated, Lorelai makes a mess of things by sharing a few somewhat… difficult memories of her relationship with her late father. In the ensuing confrontation in the kitchen, the monumental pain and loss both Emily and Lorelai are feeling take centre stage; and while the show usually takes Lorelai’s side in conflicts with her mother, this hurts especially. The Gilmore Girls are very, very good at talking around their feelings rather than through them, and Emily for once not hiding behind a cold mask hurts just as much as Lorelai openly expressing that she is feeling the same loss her mother is. To have Emily dismiss it… it’s not the height of cruelty on the Emily Gilmore scale, but it’s close, and yet it’s Emily’s prerogative to be furious with Lorelai. She’s a grown woman, and she may have been drunk and surprised, but it would have been possible to excuse herself. (It’s down to the writer’s need for a big blow-up that some contrivances had to be taken in stride; and this is mostly down to the show’s genre, dramedy, rather than high drama.) However, Emily accuses her of planning this, of this “mistake” being premeditated, and this is just so telling of how deep the emotional wounds in this relationship truly go.

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With both Emily and Lorelai reeling from Richard’s death, it has a tremendous effect on their lives. For Emily, this results in a giant painting, decluttering her house to the point of extreme minimalism (can you imagine Emily Gilmore with a capsule wardrobe? I know I can’t), and at Lorelai’s suggestion, therapy. Oh, boy.

Lorelai and Luke’s major storyline this winter is, again, the one with the kids. After talking about having a baby repeatedly over the course of their relationship from Season 5 on, the writers are honestly trying to sell us on them never having talked about it again; in order to shoe-horn in a subplot that is so out there and, frankly, appalling, that I’m sorry for Liza Weil for coming back for, well, this.

219_gilmoregirls_101_spr_02483rh2016I can buy Luke and Lorelai still having communication issues — they weren’t fifteen when they met, and both of them were set in their ways before they ever even got together. Luke was always a big softie, but also always Mr McGrumpy-Pants with a baseball hat; and Lorelai may have always wanted “the complete package,” but she’s also always fancied herself Wonder Woman. Those things don’t suddenly disappear entirely, and much of the conflict between them in these four episodes probably has more to do with Lorelai losing her father than any actual problems they might have. But still, the practicality of never talking about children again… that is a stretch. Also: Luke is not an idiot, I’m sure he knows how surrogacy works, and that no actual sex with surrogate mothers is required. It’s something I’d expect of an episode of Friends, not this show.

But back to Paris: it took me a while to remember that, at Yale, Paris was pre-med, and so I was genuinely confused to discover which field she works in now. I was incensed, however, at the fact that surrogate mothers are referred to as “breeders,” who are, apparently, fed a diet of salads and no diet coke to keep them slim and pretty… ugh, my God! Who the hell had that idea? The forced nature of that baby storyline is compounded by this travesty. It’s made even worse by making Paris a mother of two and soon-to-be-ex-wife of Doyle, her college boyfriend, who used to be stand-up guy and is now, apparently, Michael Bay’s best buddy. Ugh, Doyle. What’s really bad, though, is that they made Paris into her own mother — it’s a thing on this show, apparently, and even though I do find Oscar Wilde’s aphorism, “All women become like their mother, that is their tragedy. No man ever does, and that’s his,” rather witty in the context of the play that it’s from, I don’t think it should be applied seriously to 21st-century character development. Paris, who hated her own mother and loved her Portuguese nanny, is doomed to repeat her family’s mistakes by having to see her own children prefer their nanny over her in turn. Of all the parts I didn’t like, this one honestly broke my heart. I always thought that, if Paris didn’t end up with Rory, or with a loving husband/wife, or eternally single and happy(!!!), she’d be a great mom. Sure, there’d be a learning curve, but Paris grew a lot over seven seasons, and she would have applied herself to motherhood with the same determination she showed in everything else.

Since we’re here: poor Lane. Had sex once, it was terrible, and she’s saddled with this. Zach did not age well, and gigs in their own living room is not what Lane deserved. Another women, another set of big dreams crushed because this show loves punishing women for having sex. Michel, in turn, is now confirmed bisexual, married to Frederick, and haunted by babies. What is it with this show and babies???

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And then there’s Rory. Rory, Rory, Rory. Rory, who’s been keeping an apartment in Brooklyn, but spending all her time in London, and living off, what, exactly? Oh, right, the trust fund Richard’s mother set up for her, plus whatever inheritance she received. That must be it. So, in any case, Rory is apparently a terrible journalist, because why else would everyone only be talking about That One New Yorker Piece she wrote… when, exactly? She’s 32 years old, she could be a staff writer by now. After working on the Obama 2008 campaign trail, she could have stayed on as a political correspondent, she could have worked on the Hill. But now, she’s apparently a free agent, just roaming. In what universe is 32 the time to be a nomad and just go wherever there’s a story to write? A lot of what Rory is doing in A Year in the Life, and a lot of the career mistakes she makes would have worked for 22-year-old Rory fresh out of Yale, but they don’t work for 32-year-old Rory who’s been working as a journalist for ten years now. It were one thing if she’d been working as a staff writer or as a freelancer in one genre for a while now and then just got into the idea of writing that autobiography with/about Naomi Shropshire, and realigned her interests, but the narrative is consistently framing her as directionless. The need ASP seemed to feel to make Rory a symbol of Lost Millennials in their early 30s who move back home and struggling journalists to boot here directly collides with the characterisation of Rory that we’re familiar with. This doesn’t jibe with her ambitions, her goals, her big dreams. Hey, I appreciate social commentary as much as the next gal, but you know what else I like? A character not completely losing all the traits that would enable her to get out of that slump or rut or whatever you want to call it. Ruts happen, and slumps do, too. But Rory is handling it terribly, and it’s pre-Yale-dropout all over again. Even if not everything goes perfectly, I don’t think it’s too much to ask to expect that she has learnt not to assume everything will just fall into her lap by now. ’cause, you know, even if journalism isn’t an easy career, there are ways. Rory could have (should have!) joined a website on-staff ages ago. That way, she’d be entirely flexible, and surely SadieSays (clearly a riff on Refinery29) can’t have been the only ones to come a-knockin’.

And then we’re in for a really nasty surprise, because there’s Logan. Logan, who she’s been seeing whenever she’s in London (which, not merely due to her interviews with Naomi, is a lot). I have two questions: why is she still with that git? Also, why is it a Vegas arrangement? We do not know at this point in the story that Logan is actually engaged, so I can’t factor it in here, but their conversation at least suggests that he is seeing someone else besides Rory, perhaps even multiple someones at this point, that’s how vague the info is that we get here. And the fact remains that I simply do not like Logan, and I don’t understand why Rory must, apparently, still be hung-up on a college boyfriend. I mean… why does Paul exist? Are they honestly trying to tell me that Rory has not met anyone more interesting than both Paul and Logan in ten years? That I refuse to believe.

I miss Sookie.

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