Review – Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life 

Warning: This post contains heavy spoilers for Gilmore Girls: A Year In the Life. If you do not want to be spoiled, step away now. You have been warned.

Remember, remember, the 25th November…

When Gilmore Girls returned to our screens.

I laughed, I cried, I squealed with joy. It was everything and nothing like I thought it would be.

It was over 6 hours of my life that I so feverishly anticipated and which have left me with a feeling that I can only describe as a strange, intoxicating concoction of satisfaction, sadness, disappointment, excitement and pure unadulterated joy.

After such a long and highly anticipated wait, there were undoubtedly many expectations and a lot of pressure on creators and writers Amy Sherman Palladino and Dan Palladino to get this right. What they have created, Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, is quite simply an absolute masterpiece.

From the opening voiceovers calling back to the original series to those astounding final four words, the four 90-minute episodes were jam-packed with small-town charm, heartbreaking family drama and the quirk and whimsy that can only exist in Stars Hollow.

Season 7 left our characters in a moderately settled place: Lorelai and Luke were back together; Rory had scored a great journalism gig and was heading off to conquer the world. Yet it wasn’t enough and it wasn’t the work of Amy Sherman Palladino. What were the last four words that she had always intended. Where was the long awaited wedding? And perhaps the biggest question for some – which boy should Rory have ended up with?

In 2016 – A LOT has changed – but also so many things are quite comfortably the same. When the world seems to be turning upside down it’s nice to know that Miss Patty is still teaching dance, Babette is still too loud, Luke is too grumpy, Taylor is unbelievably annoying and Kirk is…well, Kirk.

On the other hand, it was like coming home and finding out that half your stuff has been moved leading you to feverishly run around trying to find where everything – or everyone – has gone.

One of the great surprises was the early revelation that Michel is now married to a man named Frederick and potentially expecting a child soon. Yanic Truesdale’s portrayal of the grumpy Frenchman was still hilarious but had moved on from the original series, as the friendship between Lorelai and Michel has clearly deepened in the absence of Sookie.

Speaking of Sookie, Melissa’s return was rewarding but the excuse for keeping her away for so long seemed a little flimsy and deprived us of much Jackson time.

The situation of the infamous Paris Geller was perhaps the most intriguing and to find she now runs a fertility clinic with the aggressive passion that only she can embody was one of the best revelations. However the demise of her relationship with Doyle was also one of the most heartbreaking.

I can’t help but feel a little disappointed at the lack of development in Lane’s storyline which generally felt like a massive compromise after the departure of Dave Rygalski. We barely see anything of her children and there is little said about what she has been doing for the past few years. Zack has now got a ‘proper’ job and the band is still practicing in their house – that’s about it – although, it is cute that they now live in Sookie and Jackson’s house (an early reminder that the story is coming full circle).

That being said, there is excellent resolution for many of the characters.

Whilst Lorelai and Rory’s relationship is the very core of the show, it is the dynamic between the original Gilmore girls that really stands out. Their blistering argument in ‘Winter’ was difficult to watch but stunningly performed, whilst the phone call in ‘Fall’ in which Lorelai relays her best memory of her late father was just devastatingly beautiful.

Indeed, the death of Richard Gilmore (made necessary by the real-life passing of Edward Hermann in 2014) hangs over the revival as we and the characters grieve his loss. Yet in many ways it drives the emotional depth of the story and makes for some of the most powerful scenes.

Lauren Graham and Kelly Bishop really knock it out of the park in every episode with Emmy-worthy performances. Emily’s journey through widowhood was incredibly moving although it resulted in the slightly bizarre move to work at a Whaling Museum in Nantucket and that brilliant DAR scene laced with several ‘bullsh*t’ expletives.

Aside from her tumultuous relationship with her mother, Lorelai’s storyline primarily focuses on the state of her life and relationship with Luke. Whilst seemingly content in ‘Winter’ the cracks start to appear, building to Lorelai’s dramatic decision to go for a hike as per Cheryl Strayed’s Wild. Luckily her (failed) adventure leads to the realisation that the long-past-due wedding must happen and we get the reunion which only ASP could have given us (and makes their kiss at the end of 7×22 seem quite lame). Seriously, that wedding was just perfect.

Rory has seemingly spent the past few years pursuing journalism only to find herself in a bit of a rut career-wise. After being fired from writing a biography and turned down from a job she deemed beneath her, Rory ends up back in Stars Hollow by ‘Summer’. Its not long before she’s running the flailing Stars Hollow Gazette and inspired towards the fittingly meta conclusion in which she begins to write a book about her and Lorelai. It’s cute and well-executed, although I expect most people were more concerned with Rory’s love life.

Indeed, in the build up to the revival perhaps the most discussed issues were the final four words and the ‘teams’. That is, are you Team Dean, Team Jess or Team Logan?

All three of Rory’s famous love interests make their appearances in the revival and all are quite beautiful in their resolution – although Rory actually spends most of the revival in a relationship with the instantly forgettable, Paul. Dean especially was lovely to see despite his questionable behaviour in Season 4 and 5 and there is truly a sense of closure. Equally, Logan and Rory’s relationship is tied up neatly (at least until the end). The most dominant in the revival, Logan still shows himself to be an entitled and morally questionable man but with an electric chemistry with Rory in every scene. His send off with the Life and Death Brigade was touching and even made me slightly sad that the Team Logan ship was sinking.

Team Jess, however, can certainly argue that closure was not anywhere to be found. Once again Jess turned up just when Rory needed a push and he gives her the idea to write the book. It’s hard to ignore that Amy has positioned him as the man who knows and understands Rory the best. However, there is little more in terms of screen time between them until that final heartbreaking look through the window revealing that Jess still harbours strong feelings for his ex. It’s a scene that, bearing in mind the ending, raises the question – is the show trying to suggest that Jess is Rory’s Luke? Personally, I hope so but the ending leaves a lot of open questions.

So, about that ending. The final four words.

The revelation that Rory was pregnant was an ending I had heard suggested several times but had quickly discounted as being too corny. In reality it was executed well but it was a crushing blow dealt just before the credits rolled. I have so many questions when I expected everything to be tied up neatly with a bow. In many ways it’s very fitting and the intent is clear, completing the sense that the show is coming full circle.

It’s both deeply satisfying and terribly unsatisfying at the same time. Frankly, no matter what the ending would have been, I think I would always be wanting more. It’s a testament to the world that Amy Sherman Palladino & co. have created that we never want to leave.

Whether or not this really is the end – and I highly suspect it is – the revival journey has been thrilling and the best I could have hoped for.

So thank you Amy Sherman Palladino and Netflix for 6 joyful hours checking in on my favourite residents of Stars Hollow. It was a pleasure.

A few side notes:

  • Somehow in the midst of all the crying and joy I did manage to notice a few inconsistencies and mistakes. Take, for example, the window behind Chris in ‘Fall’ kept switching between slightly ajar and firmly closed. Perhaps more peculiarly, the sofas in the Gilmore mansion kept on switching places. Maybe this was intended as part of Emily’s attempts to reorganise the house and make it feel like her own but it went unacknowledged and frankly left me rather confused.
  • How on earth can Rory afford to flit back and forth across the Atlantic Ocean just for a few days to visit her mother/work. I am not sure freelance journalism really pays that well?
  • Did anyone else shriek with joy when Jason Ritter (aka Mark Cyr) and Peter Krause (aka Adam Braverman and Graham’s real life love) appeared as park rangers? My Parenthood fan girl squealed with excitement throughout their short but very amusing cameos.
  • Speaking of cameos, Mae Whitman! Jason Mantzoukas! Sutton Foster! Michael Ausiello! Paul Anka! The Gilmore Guys!!

The sheer length and content of the revival ensures that I could carry on writing for hours more but for now, this seems enough. I do, however, reserve the right to return to this list in the future. Until then…

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