Goodbye Gilmore Girls
A Review of the Revival via Mother-Daughter Email Correspondence

girlmoregirls

From: A

To: E

Subject: A Year in the (Miserable??) Life?  

Mom! Urgent: why did we like Gilmore Girls so much in the first place? And not just like it, but dissect it, over-identify with it and aspire to have a mother/daughter relationship like Rory and Lorelai’s? Currently very hard to reconstruct.

Pretty sure Kirk’s pet pig Petal was the best part of A Year in the Life? Also, you’ve gotta be kidding me with the nobody-can-remember-Paul’s-name bit. Maybe for two weeks, not for two years. Emily would obsess over whomever Rory dated; no way she wouldn’t know his name. I loved that Carole King showed up, but she should have sung “Where You Lead,” especially since that song rightfully belongs in the credits, and I wonder why it wasn’t there. Still, disappointing though these sequel episodes may be, I’m sad not to be watching them with you and Char. Perhaps I would have enjoyed them more had I watched with you guys . . . maybe the communal viewing was actually the essential part of our Gilmore experience. No doubt that’s why it was released over Thanksgiving.

Have you Netflixed yet? Thoughts?

xA

 

From: E

To: A

Subject: Re: A Year in the (Miserable??) Life?

Yes, we had a Gilmore marathon over the weekend. (To which you were invited, I might add, so spare me the “sad not to be watching with you” routine.) We watched while sipping hot chocolate out of coffee mugs in tribute to Alexis Bledel, obviously, who famously didn’t drink coffee out of her mugs, either.

Mixed feelings. Quite bittersweet. Sorry to see Rory so adrift throughout — very little happiness for her. I didn’t believe she would have strung Paul along for two years. Didn’t work as a gag, and wasn’t true to her character. I guess I believed she would be having an ongoing affair with Logan, but was disappointed anyhow.

Some things worked, I thought, while other parts felt bloated. The mini-musical wasn’t good enough to justify all the time they spent on it. Logan and his buddies just seemed obnoxious and sophomoric. I yearned for Rory to gaze longingly at Jess at the end (without him knowing) the way he gazed at her (without her knowing). I thought Emily was amazing throughout — really the emotional core of the episodes. The Wild finding-yourself-in-nature stuff was, well, ugh. But overall I thought they mostly succeeded in not making the show too saccharine.

Also, not clear why they would have chosen to use the same actress for Gypsy and Berta — weird, and possibly insulting. Isn’t there another actress of color who deserves the role? Maybe it was an in-joke.

And: So obnoxious that Rory would tell Lorelai about her pregnancy right before the wedding bash. Trés self-centered. Is that true to her character? If so, I guess it is a brave-ish choice, but still . . . .

As for why we loved the show back in the day, it is indeed hard to reconstruct, and even now when I watch old episodes I find Rory more cloying and Lorelai more annoying than I did the first round. And I don’t think we really aspired to have a connection like Rory and Lorelai’s. We loved their witty banter and imitated it, for sure, but also found it exhausting and wished they would sometimes just talk like regular humans, especially when the emotional stakes were high. We definitely liked that the show was a little inappropriately racy for you and your sister at the ages you were back then; it gave us good fodder for conversation about all sorts of relationships. Mostly I think we loved the quirky sweetness of Stars Hollow, a place with just the right balance of magic and reality, and we loved the delicious and unexpected — but undeniable — fact that Robbie and Dad, who pretended not to adore the show as much as we did, would wander into the family room when it was on and just stay.

Anyhow, maybe quirky sweetness simply can’t and shouldn’t be updated and reimagined in our current Trumpian universe.

xoxMom

 

From: A

To: E

Subject: Re: A Year in the (Miserable??) Life?  

See, I have the 20-something soft spot for Logan and his bros. Yes, they’re stupid, but I’m still charmed by that. Hoping I won’t feel that way when I’m 32? Who knows.

I guess I just wasn’t expecting to hate so many of the rest of the characters and to find their current incarnations inconsistent with how they were originally depicted. I certainly remember being annoyed by aspects of them the first time (and you being more annoyed, especially re the absurdity of Rory only applying to Harvard, Princeton, and Yale), but — with the exception of Emily and Michel— I found them all somewhere on the spectrum between pathetic and detestable in A Year in the Life.

Suki swoops back into the kitchen after a two-year absence and just thinks it’s hers again? How one-dimensional. (Though I thought the celebrity chef cameo gag worked pretty well.)

Lorelai and Luke have such a profound communication issue that they have never discussed having kids or getting married? And Luke is such a dolt that he doesn’t know about surrogacy and how it works? How depressing.

Paris still can’t hold it together when she sees Tristan? Seriously? And is then nasty, nasty, not funny nasty to grown-up Francie in the bathroom for no reason? That scene just felt misogynistic and crushingly antifeminist, and, paired with the utter lack of depth of emotion in Paris’ scene with Doyle and the kids, was just gross. A missed opportunity to create a real person.

And what is there even to say about Rory? There’s no shame in her not having made it as a writer yet — tough gig — but she is not exactly exuding work ethic here. What were we supposed to think about her job interview gone awry? That she was too special to demean her perfect self to work at a trendy online magazine or prepare for a meeting? Maybe she could focus more on her craft if she worked as a barista in the mornings and spent the afternoons at the library instead of jetting off to London to see Logan and cheating on her boyfriend, who seemed like a decent (if boring) guy.

Perhaps it’s unrealistic for me to have held out for this coda to my Gilmore experience to affirm something non-trivial about growing up, but I’m still disappointed, which actually makes me question whether my infatuation with the first seven seasons was justified. I suspect it had at least partly to do with the fact that Rory was always older than me. When we finished watching the show, I was still younger than she was in the beginning of season one. Possibly I fixated on the appealing aspects of their mother/daughter friendship as an example of what our relationship could look like in my teenage years? It was certainly cool to see a mother and daughter be friends when I was in my stormy pre-teen phase and didn’t yet have a gauge on what good friends we would turn out to be. But now, even re-watching, I don’t envy their relationship at all. It seems like they gloss over everything substantive and essentially exist to talk to each other about Pop Tarts.

Agreed about the Wild-inspired episode. Maybe if your last name is Strayed you have to do something like Wild, but that doesn’t stop it from being trite and, well, dumb in this context. (On further consideration, in any context. It was ugh when Strayed did it, too.) Lorelai is smart enough to know she isn’t going to find herself in nature.

xA

 

From: E

To: A

Subject: Re: A Year in the (Miserable??) Life?  

Darling, Cheryl Strayed’s last name was Nyland until she changed it. Just saying.

But back to Gilmore.

Please, please try to grow out of being team Logan sooner rather than later. He has always been an entitled schmuck. I don’t know why she liked him in the first place and I don’t know why she likes him now. His bros are not charming; they are degenerate and will eventually need to be bailed out of real trouble by their mystified, endlessly enabling parents. Admit that it now sounds smarmy when Logan calls Rory “Ace,” and perhaps always did.

A word about poor Lane: why does that free and funky spirit have to end up working in her mom’s furniture store? (And how unfortunate that Zack has aged like that.) Does nobody get to bust out? Actually, apparently Jess does — he seems like the only person who has matured and come into his own. Nice to Luke. Concerned about his mom. Has ideas and constructive advice for Rory. Ripped, too! Dean also looked damn good, but had less to do. Logan looked weird around the mouth. He did give off a Christopher vibe, though, and I guess that was the point since it seems he will be Rory’s Chris and Jess will be her Luke. By the way, has Logan been paying for Rory’s London flights? Does she have a trust fund from Richard and Emily? How does she pay the bills?

Let us acknowledge that Kirk was awesome, and that everything that is loveable about Stars Hollow is embodied in him and how he is cared for by the people of the town. Plus, his mini movie was way better than all the fancy impressionistic camerawork during the Life & Death Brigade montage and the midnight wedding scene. Let us also acknowledge that the vibe between Michel and Lorelai was endearingly affectionate, understated and adorable. (I think they had more chemistry than Lorelai and Luke.) I’m glad Michel can stay in town. Still love him. And let us wish an Emmy upon Kelly Bishop, whose serious acting chops made Emily’s evolution after Richard’s death poignant and believable.

Also, I thought it was clever that there was so much potential baby stuff — Paris missed her period. Michel’s husband wants a kid. Lorelai is contemplating her ticking (well, ticked) biological clock . . . but then it is Rory who gets pregnant. I read that this was how the series was supposed to end when Rory was 22. The implications of her pregnancy are obviously different in this context and at this age. Of course, she could decide to have an abortion! (At least until Trump makes his Supreme Court nominations.)

Come to think of it, have you considered that the show may actually be saying something non-trivial about growing up, just not what we want to hear? Maybe it is meant to be a sad, wry commentary on how most of us are doomed to essentially stay in the same place literally and figuratively, cyclically repeating our mistakes, always prey to our own foibles, and making only little spurts of sporadic progress, if we’re lucky. If that’s the message, maybe we didn’t grow out of GG — maybe it grew out of us.

xoxMom

 

From: A

To: E

Subject: Re: A Year in the (Miserable??) Life?  

Classic. Should’ve guessed about Cheryl’s last name.

I know you’re right about Logan, but this might be one of those things I have to come to understand on my own. I’m confident you’ll enjoy your I-told-you-so moment when it arrives.

Perhaps you’re also right about us resisting what may be the sequel’s darker message, but I’m still not persuaded that means the show has outgrown us and not vice-versa. Sure, we’re all doomed, but I don’t need to be told how doomed I am in such a relentlessly bantering, trite way. (Plus I’m skeptical that this disheartening message was intentional and, on reflection, not certain the original seven seasons were so uplifting, either. Worth noting, too: my friends to whom I’ve introduced the show during the past two years haven’t been obsessed at all.)

Still not getting rid of my Luke’s mug, ever. And I’d be delighted to go on any museum tour lead by Emily Gilmore.

<3 A

 

From: E

To: A

Subject: Re: A Year in the (Miserable??) Life?

I could go on (and on), as you know. (And will, for just a second. Luke’s toupe was awful, but the Rory/Headmaster Charleston scene was well done.)

But further critique seems decreasingly relevant, because what this exchange has clarified for me is that you nailed the essential thing in your very first email: our Gilmore experience was never primarily about Lorelai and Rory at all. Is was always about us, cliche though that may be. Staying up too late, arguing about which of Rory’s boyfriends was least objectionable (I always thought she should have given naked guy a chance), wondering how they could eat so much and not gain weight . . .

In the end, lucky us — there’s no longer anything aspirational about their relationship, and maybe that’s why the sequel fell flat. And yet.

Not getting rid of my Luke’s mug, either.

xomom     

P.S. wonder what we would think of a West Wing sequel!

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