Thanksgiving weekend the Gilmore Girls: A Year In the Life came out on Netflix. We watched the entire thing (7 hours?) in one day.
It’s a fascinating bit of pop culture and TV fun that a beloved show that ended nearly a decade ago can come back for another hurrah.
As part of all the hoopla surrounding the show’s release, I came across some comments from creator Amy Sherman-Palladino that has me scratching my head. She’s responding to the constant fervor about the dating life of Rory Gilmore and whether she ends up with Jess or Dean. She laments that people aren’t more focused on Rory’s professional career:
Sometimes I wish that the Dean and Jess thing weren’t so prominent because in the grand scheme of Rory’s life, who her boyfriend was when she was 16 years old is such a small event. … I don’t see people debating “What newspaper is Rory’s working for?” “Did she win a Pulitzer yet?” It’s all about Dean and Jess.
Um… people are obsessed with the romantic angle because that’s how you wrote the show.
I can only think of a handful of storylines that reflect Rory’s professional career in journalism (the asphalt piece for the Franklin, the interview with Max Medina, the controversial reviews for the Yale Daily News, the research story on the Life and Death Brigade [which focuses on a boy], the newspaper internship, the last-ditch effort to get the Yale Daily News out on time [again, the boy steps in as the hero], her hopes of landing the New York Times position). Maybe we could include getting into Yale as part of that arc, which includes more focus. But even still, so much more of the series revolves around Rory’s ins and outs with her various boys. Entire story arcs center around her relationships, season finales focus on her boy issues—yet her professional trials rarely take that kind of center stage.
So of course the focus is on the relationships. Yes, much of it has to do with our natural focus on romance, which Sherman-Palladino acknowledges in the interview, but by in large you wrote a show with a focus on Rory’s (and Lorelia’s) romantic interests. So that’s what people talk about.
And given how boneheaded all of Rory’s boys were throughout the show, maybe it would have been more engrossing to focus on Rory’s professional career. Frankly, some of those professional stories are great (I love the episode about getting the Yale Daily News out on time).
My Take on A Year in the Life
OK, so what did I think of the revival? FYI, spoilers ahead.
First of all, Gilmore Girls is in the rotation of our favorite TV shows to re-watch (along with Buffy, HIMYM, Big Bang Theory). Love it.
All in all, I mostly enjoyed A Year in the Life out of nostalgia. And they played it up. They brought back nearly every minor character who ever had a role on the show (and some who never did—Lane’s dad!). It was a fan’s dream.
Unfortunately, much of the revival is lost and wandering. Many of those character cameos serve no purpose other than to drop in characters. In the original TV series, appearances by Lane or Kirk or Ms. Patty usually served to further the story. In this case we get to see Lane’s band play (which was great) for no purpose other than to see that they’re still a band. It’s fun fodder for fans, but it’s ultimately pointless.
I also think being freed from the 42-minute network time limit and going with an hour and a half or even two hours didn’t do A Year in the Life any favors. That 15-minute musical in the middle of the Summer episode? Horrible. I got so bored. It spawned an important epiphany in the end, but holy cow we shouldn’t have had to go through all that to get there.
For all my complaints about the wandering plot and pointless cameos, I think the show really kicked into gear in the final episode, Fall. That episode made it all worth watching.
And the final four words that everyone is talking about? I won’t reveal what they are, but I loved that ending. It felt so fitting and brings the show full circle in a way. Sure, we have questions about how all that works out, but frankly I don’t care about the details. I don’t want to see those details (we’ve watched Rory mess her way through life, I don’t need to see her screw this up too).
For a more in-depth review, I think this one sums it up pretty nicely.
More Gilmore Girls
Lots of interesting things to note in all the stories flying around about Gilmore Girls, though these few are worth noting:
- Turns Out Rory Gilmore Is Not a Good Journalist – The Atlantic rejects Rory fictionally, and now does it for real.
- Was Gilmore Girls Always as Racist, Homophobic and Fat Shaming as the Revival Is? – While an early comment in this article says Emily Gilmore’s maids are predominantly women of color (no they’re not), it raises a lot of uncomfortable questions about the revival’s lack of diversity. The “borrowing gays” scene just felt awkward.
- Creator Amy Sherman-Palladino on Season Seven – Most fans agree season seven sucked. Primarily because creator Amy Sherman-Palladino and her writer husband weren’t involved thanks to a contract dispute. Turns out Sherman-Palladino never watched season seven. I feel justified in never watching the entire thing either.