Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life

Like many Gilmore Girl fans, my Thanksgiving weekend was completely hijacked by watching the Netflix special Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. However, I paced myself, spreading my viewing over four days so I could truly digest each episode and analyze the direction of the storyline. This presented the unique challenge of avoiding Facebook, Twitter and certain news websites because I really wanted to pull my own thoughts and feelings from the special. As I watched, I took notes, thought it through, and what follows is the culmination of what I truly felt about the show.

Warning: My Gilmore Girls fandom is about to be exposed.

Also… obviously, spoilers to follow.

My Irritations: 
First, I must address my two irritations with the show. Shockingly, neither of them have to do with the storylines but lie with the production.

  1. The whimsical, musical/music video scenes. What was this about? I loved the vision of the Life and Death Brigade night out and Lorelai and Luke’s wedding, but why the over production? Why the excess trotting about Stars Hollow or having Luke push Lorelai on a ladder? It was so over the top, unnecessary and honestly, felt uncomfortable. Mostly, it felt like fluff and killed the momentum of the show for me.
  2. The blatant rip off of Little Women. During Rory’s writing scene, as she arrives to Emily and Richard’s home and walks through the house with voice-over memories, all I could see is the scene from Little Women circa 1994 with Winona Ryder bent over her writing desk in the attic, her sisters voices swirling around her head. I don’t mind that Rory Gilmore is somehow becoming Jo March, but it could have been done in a way that didn’t approach plagiarizing Gillian Armstrong’s direction. Tsk, Tsk, ASP.

Okay, now that we got that out of the way, onto the characters.

I have to address Michel for one very important reason. The writers finally addressed his sexuality and I thought it was beautifully, subtly done. He’s married. He had a wedding. His partner wants kids and in true Michel-style, he’s against having children because he hates them. (We all remember the tea party at the inn. It didn’t go well.) All of this information was collected in quippy, natural dialogue. I love that we got this dished to us like it was no big deal and just part of his life. Fantastic.

I also think seeing the true nature of Michel and Lorelai’s friendship exposed was heartwarming. She’s devastated at the thought of losing him and he’s struggling with doing what’s best for his family or staying at the Dragonfly. He clearly doesn’t want to leave but he has a hard choice to make. The fact that he was included in Luke and Lorelai’s late night nuptials speaks volumes. I also like to believe that Lorelai buys the old persons’ home, coverts it to an inn and Michel stays to run it.

Oh, Emily Gilmore. She has long been a favorite of mine and I was blown away by her character development not only through the special, but through all of the series. In the special, she struggled to find a definition of herself without Richard – which we’ve actually seen before, just from a different light. She once struggled with being “just Richard’s wife”. (Remember when she wanted to buy a plane?!) What came of the original situation was Emily sliding back into her role as Richard’s partner with pride and tra-la-la, off we go again to the club. However, with the passing of Richard, she doesn’t have a partner to fall back to so her role is uprooted. She can still have the same life. She can go to the club, the DAR, etc and resume her life, without Richard, but as she very clearly reveals, she’s tired of the bullshit. (Come on, that scene was hysterical!) She harnessed her independence and built a whole new life for herself. She made her first big purchase. She took on a new job. She even took in a family, who work for her but she enjoys their company. She finally channeled all of her tenacity into creating a life that works for her – now. It was admirable and endearing. I loved every moment of it.

Lorelai’s journey was a little more frustrating for me. Although, to be fair, I’ve always found her to be a truly frustrating character. Her inability to be open and honest about her feelings has created so many avoidable problems for her that I frequently found myself screaming at the tv for her to just tell [insert name here] what was going on. Anyways, I digress. In the special, I really loved that Lorelai was feeling pressure to make moves in her life. Between the counseling, Sookie leaving and Michel possibly leaving, having grief-battles with Emily and taking on the weight of her daughter’s floundering, Lorelai had to make some moves but was paralyzed. She had options but couldn’t immediately see them because she was letting all the noise get in the way.

Seeing her finally let Emily in emotionally was a beautiful moment. I teared up. After watching season after seasons of their dynamic relationship, it was refreshing to see them finally connect. They both had a great love of Richard and were both hurting, but in that moment, she shared her hurt in the form of a connection that changed everything. She gained clarity and piece of mind and it was related to her parents.

Everything else about Lorelai’s story was just ‘meh’ for me. We knew she’d marry Luke – I mean, really. We knew she would have quirky interactions and struggle with her emotions. That’s Lorelai.

However, perhaps my favorite Lorelai moment of all time happened in one of the final scenes. When she decided to ask Emily for Richard’s trust money to buy another inn, Lorelai became a Gilmore. Richard had set aside that money for Luke to franchise the diner. He wanted Luke to secure his and Lorelai’s future financially. We knew this from the day on the golf course when Richard first pitched franchising to Luke. Richard wanted Lorelai taken care of. Instead, Lorelai’s ambition and vision was what ultimately secured their future. Lorelai stepped up to her potential and decided to take care of them herself. I believe Richard would be more proud of that than any alternative situation. I know I was.

Man, Rory’s storyline. Oof. First, let me be clear, while I have always been #TeamJess, I truly didn’t care who she ended up with. I have always believed that argument reduced Rory to a romance storyline that wasn’t befitting of her character. I have always admired her passion for journalism and how much she enjoyed being smart (I mean, I’m even doing her reading challenge.) So her love life has always been a subplot for me.

That being said, let’s get the relationships out of the way. What was most apparent to me in the relationships with Paul/Pete and Logan was that she really doesn’t care. She wasn’t fully emotionally invested in either and was so distracted by her floundering career that her heart wasn’t in it. She didn’t put any effort into poor Paul/Pete – forgetting about and neglecting him through all four episodes. With Logan, she accepted her role as mistress because it was comfortable and familiar and for a good chunk of time, a great pad to crash at as she worked with Naomi. He was a sounding board, a shoulder to lean on, and sometimes a solution (“Can your dad call Conde Nast?”)… until she realized that she didn’t need him anymore. She had a vision, she had a path, and therefore, Logan no longer served her needs. Some would call this selfish, egotistical, etc. I call this realistic. Logan was not there to fulfill her need to be loved. That was not her priority. If it were, devoted poor Pete/Paul wouldn’t have been so neglected.

And yes, I do think she ends up with Jess. He’s her Luke. He’s there to support her and inspire her (which I think is irrefutably important.) #TeamJess all the way.

Now that that’s over with, let’s address her career. Rory was grasping in a million different directions to find a new path. She took on a book with a woman she despised, she called in favors with Mitchum Huntzberger (barf), and even interviewed at a trashy website run but a snotty millennial (best Bunheads cameo in the whole special.) I have always loved Rory’s passion for journalism. She was old school – always carrying print news and idolizing truly fantastic journalistic talents like Christiane Amanpour. Not only was Rory battling the lack of prospects for jobs, what she was facing wasn’t even what she wants. On top of it all, she was battling the changing landscape of journalism. When presented with the opportunity at the Stars Hollow Gazette, I was actually really pleased that she jumped at it. It’s print, traditional and grounds her. It may not be the lofty, prestigious job she was always dreaming of, but it was a job she has a natural passion for. She was then able to open up her mind to other ideas and opportunities. Writing a book about “the” Gilmore Girls came from a spark of inspiration (ahem – Jess) and she had the clarity of mind to dive into it. Even more important was the Gazette and the book are both paths she has to forge herself. She didn’t have Emily and Richard there to coach her. She didn’t have to make a call to Logan. Rory was moving forward down this new path with her independence and her laptop. Beautiful.

Those Final Four Words:
I’m hoping if you’re reading this, you already know what the final four words are. If not, stop reading immediately, you cheater. Okay? Okay… we’re good. The final four words reveal that Rory is pregnant. I thought the words were predictable given her very tense interaction with Christopher. She was digging really hard to get insight into his feelings regarding Lorelai raising Rory alone and since Christopher equals Logan, it wasn’t hard to piece everything together. The deeper meaning of this development is so much more important.

Rory was seemingly so perfect. She was smart and got the good grades. She worked hard in private school and got into numerous Ivy Leagues. She faced her challenges in college and overcame them to be an admirable Yale graduate who was beloved by all and went out to take on the world. She traveled and read extensively. Every girl wanted to be her. However, despite her charmed life, she still ended up single and pregnant. Despite it all, she still ended up in the same situation her mother was shamed for. Meaning, even if Lorelai had stayed in her privileged world, she still could have ended up single and pregnant. Think about that. Not only does this show us the amazing parallels between Rory and Lorelai’s love lives: Dean equals Max (safe), Jess equals Luke (challenge), and Logan equals Christopher (privilege), and that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree – most importantly it shows that everything is going to be okay. Rory may have had some bumps along the way, her career and love life may be a mess, but she’s following in the footsteps of a woman who has faced all of those challenges and has still come out on top. Circumstances don’t matter – it’s how you overcome your challenges that matters.

Full circle – yes. Sealed and over over – I sure hope so.

I love Gilmore Girls. I really do. I have loved the return to Stars Hollow and that ASP has been given the opportunity to tell her story. But I feel like we get it now. We see where Lorelai and Rory were meant to end up and I’m good with it. I have full faith that Rory will be okay, Lorelai will be successful and Emily will be happy. I couldn’t ask for anything more.

Now, I know the world is torn on this subject so I will ask…

What are your thoughts on Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life?


2 thoughts

  1. I think that you really do a good job of discussing all the characters. I loved Emily’s storyline, and now I feel like I appreciate Lorelai’s storyline more since my perspective is shifted and see it as her needing to make a change. I am still really disappointed in the Rory storyline, seeing it as her kind of using Logan too makes it a little easier to swallow, but her having been this smart, admirable young woman who we all looked up to, it was disappointing to see her fall so far, if you will, into this mistress, hot mess role, you know?

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