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Gilmore Girls – A Year in the Life is Damned by its own Themes

So, with some additional time since its release, I think we’re now all ready for an in-depth review and recap of Gilmore Girls – A Year in the Life. As I hinted at in the spoiler-free review from two weeks ago, I wasn’t too thrilled with this. I was in places; some of this is really, really good. And yet, the bad just poisons the well so badly.

But all of that is still a long, long journey away from us. So. For the last time. Get ready in whatever clever way you can think of, because we’re doing this.

Winter

We start off with Lorelai and Rory meeting at the gazebo. Spoiler alert: This is how we’ll end, too, because Amy Sherman-Palladino really did enjoy those 8th grade book reports of hers. Rory has just flown in from London, where, as we find out, she has apparently spent both Christmas and Thanksgiving, and she can only stay in Stars Hollow for one day.

Wow. We’re less than two minutes into this shindig, and I already want to call her fiscally irresponsible. You do not pay for trans-continental flights to just stay one day in one location. It’s wasteful. And who even is paying for all this flying around she does?

We meet Lane while Rory somehow gets reception on one of her three phone indoors while standing on the produce shelf. They fail the Bechdel test epically within ten seconds, as the only thing they talk about is Zack getting a promotion and now having to wear a tie. Sounds like a fulfilling life.

There’s some town weirdness, along with the only sane thing Stars Hollow has ever done, which is buying Kirk and Lulu a pig to keep them from procreating. Kudos, Stars Hollow, kudos.

Once we get our first view of the ever-unchanging Gilmore house, it becomes frightfully clear where Rory’s fiscal irresponsibility comes from.

We also get our first glimpse of Luke, who is still dealing with the fact that there is no way to regulate Lorelai’s or Rory’s food intake. He is also super proud that Rory got to publish one featured piece in the New Yorker – and from how proud he is about that, and how much it gets brought up in this entire thing, we can surmise that this is the only thing Rory published that got any notoriety at all. In all of 10 years.

Oh, yeah, Luke and Lorelai have been together the entire time, too, and he moved (back?) in with her. They’re happy.

More so than Rory is with that boyfriend of hers, at least. Oh, yeah, Rory has a boyfriend. Had him for two years, too, which is longer than any of her show relationships lasted if you count that time Logan fucked every blond woman on the eastern seaboard a breakup.

His name is Paul. He is a perfectly nice guy who pays attention to Rory’s family and seems overall like a lovely enough person – even though I, too, find people who don’t do breakfast suspicious. He also has the unfortunate tendency to be plain-out forgotten by… Everyone. Rory is completely unaware that she has been dating this poor guy for two years, Luke and Lorelai can’t recall having ever met him before, and ASP assured us Rory would be single but dating around in this revival – neither of which is true at all.

He’s so charmingly befuddled. And constantly forgotten.

Another thing; Rory’s “rootlessness” which was hinted at in the trailers is actually, pretty much, homelessness, and relying on her mother and her adult friends with stable lives to store her stuff for her. They mystery of the underwear will accompany us for the entirety of this thing, by the way.

Then we get an overview of the situation at the Dragonfly, which is still standing, but in a bit of a culinary crisis because Melissa McCarthy’s schedule was too full to appear more often than once, so Sookie is living in a hippie commune somewhere, and Lorelai burns through replacement chefs like her mother used to burn through maids. All of whom are perfectly qualified (and famous!), but who she has personal and often unreasonable hang-ups with.

Well. As the best episode of season 4 established, Lorelai learned how handle staff from someone.

Also, Michel has a husband. A husband who wants babies. I am so indifferent to this, I can’t quite believe myself. I mean, on one hand, yay, representation! Something explicit to make this franchise less aggressively heteronormative!

On the other hand… Michel was already a walking stereotype before, and the only thing that set him apart was not being gay before, kind of. And that’s been going on for seven seasons. So, uh. Was he just hardcore closeted all this time? Is he actually bisexual? Who knows! Not us humble viewers, because this is just dropped into conversation and given no further information.

Not that it necessarily has to be, but we have listened to Michel going on and on about impressing the ladies for seven seasons, so, I don’t know, maybe a little explanation is appropriate?

Anyhow, from that, we go straight to the situation at Gilmore Manor, where Emily is once again ignoring Lorelai and showering Rory with attention. She, too, has met Paul but doesn’t remember him. Also, she has kept the same maid, and her husband, and their children, in her home for four months.  I know. Impressive.

The conflict between her and Lorelai that causes the cold shoulder treatment is explored pretty quickly, as the gigantic Richard portrait we saw in the trailer is actually due to Emily getting the dimensions wrong while commissioning it. Lorelai pushes for her to admit that, and Emily snaps at her that hopefully this won’t be the only thing Lorelai remembers about her at her funeral.

Yikes. Yeah. Then we get a flashback to Richard’s funeral, which is three-quarters amazing and one quarter what. The three quarters amazing are the service itself, everyone interacting, and just the heart-wrenching way they all take care of each other. Luke included! He and Emily hug. It’s… Yeah. Everything it needed to be.

Then Luke and Rory leave, and we cut to an uncomfortably awkward scene laden with secondhand embarrassment, in which a very drunk Lorelai struggles to tell the story of her favorite memory of her dad. Instead she talks about how he caught her having sex in the pool house once (so it has always been a sex house!) and how they once played hide and seek and he forgot about her to go on a business trip while she was hiding. Yikes.

Now, to be fair, the point of this scene is partially to set up Lorelai’s fear of abandonment. It’s her theme. And it is usually handled well, but this just really, really stretches my suspense of disbelief. As much as I understand that Richard wasn’t the warmest father during her childhood (and even that is called into question later on), there are plenty of sweet moments from the series she could have mentioned. How he brought her that doll house when Emily was threatening to throw it out, for example. The awkward speech he gave about the life Lorelai has built. The special insurance policy he set up for her. How kind he has always been to Rory. Anything, really.

Instead, it’s the most inappropriate thing anyone could have thought of, and a very weird business trip to… Croatia? As a completely irrelevant side note, I highly doubt Richard had any business in Croatia in 1978. Mostly because Croatia as a country didn’t exist yet; it was part of Yugoslavia, and also kind of on the other side of the iron curtain, from what I understand, but hey. Pesky little details.

Long story short: This scene feels more like it’s there to artificially create both a conflict for Lorelai and Emily, and to hammer home Lorelai’s theme just for the sake of hammering home a theme, no matter how little sense it makes at the time.

This is a thing, by the way. Hammering home a theme, no matter how much or little sense it makes in the narrative or for the character at the time. It’s kind of the thing that made me loathe this revival as much as I do. But that’s still a long, long ways off.

For what it’s worth, the confrontation between Emily and Lorelai is as great as their scenes together always are. Excellent work from both actresses, and not a bad way to reintroduce the thing where Lorelai wonders whether Luke is actually happy with doing thing the way she wants. I mean, spoiler alert, he’s fine with this, we talked about that back in season 6, but still.

Hell, even Emily telling Lorelai to run back to her quaint little town so everyone can tell her how perfect she is is pretty great. What kills it for me, and only in retrospect, as is so often the case with this revival, is Lorelai’s last words being “Full freaking circle.”

This is not only a bad comeback in the situation, it is also beating you in the face with a wrecking ball kinds of subtle in reminding you that ASP knows what a theme is.

We are treated to a brief Friday Night Dinner™, the only one during this entire revival, sadly. Rory has places to be. Emily is the only one taking issue with a 32 year-old woman being essentially homeless. Nobody is allowed to sit on Richard’s chair. Kirk is there. The scene is unsatisfying, as far as Friday Night Dinners™ go.

However, remembering what happened four months ago makes Lorelai ask Luke later on whether he’d want a child of his own. Luke says he would have been down if she’d been, and besides, he has a child of his own (who goes to MIT and writes letters he needs a scientific dictionary to understand), and also sort of raised Rory and Jess, so he’s fine.

Because we haven’t been over this since season 6, Lorelai doesn’t exactly believe him, and we get treated to a disturbing sequence where they go to a surrogacy clinic. Where Paris works. Paris seems extremely unhinged, even by her standards, and I have a hard time reconciling this woman peddling out other women like breeding stock, with the young girl calling out her headmaster for being sexist.

Like, yeah, Paris has always been intense and inappropriate in places. But this is extreme and disconcerting. Also, the surrogacy subplot goes nowhere, except a running gag that no one told Luke he wouldn’t need to have sex with the surrogacy mothers. He’ll still believe this in the Fall episode.

Paris looks like a very hot mob boss.

We then finally get a glimpse of what Rory has been doing in London. And also who she has been doing in London.

She signs a book deal with an insufferable blond woman who steals other people’s orders at a restaurant, has a serious alcohol problem, and is completely unhinged. This goes nowhere and falls through in the next episode, so I won’t even get into it, except to point out how “I have so many irons in the fire” Rory must be truly desperate, judging by the way she clings to working with this woman.

Actually, Rory sort of confirms that she’s mostly doing this out of desperation in the next scene, in which she spends like a minute of screen time talking to herself, so it can be oh so revealing who walks out of the bathroom and smooches her. Next time you’re going for big reveals, maybe don’t put the person in question sitting on the furniture in that room into the trailers.

So. Welcome to Vegas, guys. Rory and Logan are fucking. Every time Rory goes off to London, like after Richard’s funeral, or during Thanksgiving and Christmas afterwards, she is at Logan’s place, being his mistress, because he is engaged. And she is technically with Paul, so they’re both cheating now! What a delightful change of pace!

No, seriously. What the fuck is going on here? They claim to have a “Vegas arrangement” (What happens there stays there, blah, blah), but… How do you have that kind of arrangement with someone who once proposed to you? And even more so, Rory was actually affected for three-ish episodes during season six by Logan cheating on her – and now she just happily skips off to cheat with him? On his fiancée and her constantly forgotten boyfriend? What. The. Fuck.

Why even London? Logan was off to California at the end of season 7. The London thing was temporary and fell through, and it was while he was still working for his father. Is he doing that again? He was one of the rare characters to have positive development in season 7, is all of that retconned? And if we can retcon things about season 7 willy-nilly, why not Lane’s twins? Gah. Priorities, people!

They even talk about Logan maybe having other girls’ things in the house, but apparently, he hides his fiancée’s stuff from Rory and vice versa, and whoever else he’s fucking too. At least that’s my read on this. Rory might have referred to the fiancée only here, which would also make sense, since she’s always had trouble assessing who’s the other woman in this situation, but I’m going with Logan going back to exchanging sexual partners like underwear.

And just to be clear, my issue is not that they’re having sex. At all. My issue is that they’re cheating on people. I’d be happy for them to fuck like rabbits while single, or together with each other, or in an explicitly open polyamorous arrangement, but they are cheating here. Even if Rory doesn’t remember it. And I just have no patience for that sort of behavior.

Rory is back in Stars Hollow what feels like a day later, still looking for her lucky outfit. Apparently it’s lucky because Logan saw her in it one time and I assume that’s when they started fucking again, because the series gives me no other answer to that.

She just so happens to drop by while Paris has brought out a few of her surrogates to try and talk Luke into this again, to no avail. She makes demands on what kind of salad these women are allowed to eat. It’s beyond creepy.

Good news, though, Paris is divorcing Doyle, for… Reasons, I suppose. They even manage to throw us a bone by having Rory declare she’s “Team Paris all the way.” Oh. Oh honey. We all just wish you were.

Then they both check in with Lane to peruse more boxes for Rory’s lucky outfit. I actually like this scene a lot, with Hep Alien setting up, Lane’s twins being ridiculously quiet and well behaved, and just… I dunno, something about this just gets me.

Paris refuses to believe the twins are natural, Rory makes everyone look for her lucky outfit, and the song they play is really kind of bad, but hey. At least they still are making music together. And seem fine.

In her quest to find the lucky outfit (and no, I can’t overstate how pervasive and annoying this is until she finally finds it. And then it sucks and has no pay-off), Rory urges Lorelai to maybe try and check in on Emily. I find it deeply troubling that they both don’t do that constantly anyhow. Emily is all alone in her giant house after losing her husband, and has let her maid’s entire family move in with her as a result. There is so much checking in they should be doing, I can’t even.

Anyhow, Lorelai shows up just in time to see Emily Marie Kondo’ing the house, and puts a stop to it by pointing out the most obvious flaw with Marie Kondo’s approach; nothing is going to bring you joy when you’ve just lost your husband. It’s like telling people with depression to just do things they enjoy. Doesn’t work that way. You also won’t find much stuff to keep that brings you joy under these circumstance, though admittedly, the energy to sort through everything would also be in short supply.

After working this out, Lorelai suggests Emily go to therapy. And she does. And Lorelai is so amazed by the fact that Emily took her advice, she even accidentally agrees to go to therapy with her.

This pair of scenes is, as always, pretty good to watch. Honestly. I feel the need to mention just how well Lauren Graham and Kelly Bishop work together after every scene they share for a reason. So let it just be said that I enjoy the hell out of their scenes unless noted otherwise. Do Netflix shows still qualify for Emmys? Because Lauren Graham needs one after this.

If we applied my old rating guidelines to this episode, it would be a 3.5/5. Maybe a 4/5 if I’m being generous, for all the good family drama stuff.

Spring

As promising as Emily and Lorelai in therapy together may have sounded, it largely falls flat because the (blond) therapist is completely useless. She lets herself be cut off by the stronger personalities in the room, lets them just sit there in silence during Lorelai’s first session when, you know, there should be therapy goals to discuss. Then she makes them both leave as soon as they’re actually talking and in a bit of a crisis. During multiple sessions, even.

Case in point, Emily once brings up a mean letter Lorelai allegedly wrote her on her birthday. The therapist throws them out while they’re yelling at each other, with Lorelai claiming that never happened, and this mystery is never resolved. It’s amazing how even with only 4 episodes of content to plan, you can still have so many dropped plot threads.

One plot thread that comes up during these therapy sessions, and during the last episode, and will come up for the rest of the revival, is the fact that Emily has a major problem with Lorelai not being married. She calls Luke her “roommate”. And I mean, I’m just getting used to having some of those myself, but if you’ve lived and shared a bed with the same person for 9 years, what the fuck is a marriage certificate and a tax break going to do about it? Other than hospital visitation rights, I guess.

Yet Emily keeps insisting marriage is more permanent than a happy relationship that has lasted longer than both participants’ respective marriages. Combined. And the therapist says fucking nothing and seems to be on her side in this. What is this? I get that this might be a bit of a generational conflict for Emily, but the therapist? Ugh.

There’s a brief international food festival that for some reason also features a brief basket auction. Why you’d auction off food at a place where you’re already trying to sell food, I have no idea, and why this callback was necessary eludes me as well, but I do like that Lorelai bids on the basket of a woman who was mistaken for Sookie in the trailers, and just after talking to Jackson, too. Sookie couldn’t make it because something in her hippie colony sprouted and she had to find out whether it was edible.

We get a short moment of Mrs. Kim tormenting a Korean choir, and a shot of Mr. Kim, who can join Frederick on the list of newly established husbands we really didn’t need at this point. And he doesn’t even make the show less straight, so what even.

Rory leaves this food festival early to go suffer the deranged blond activist she’s trying to write a book about some more, and then have a not so secret lunch with Logan. He takes her to a restaurant that is part of the family holdings, and they run into Mitchum there, causing Rory to almost have a panic attack. Not because of Mitchum per se, but because she was seen with Logan. We also learn that he has a fiancée and that her name is Odette.

Also, the reason Rory has made everyone hunt down her lucky outfit was her meeting with Condé Nast, which keeps getting postponed. Mitchum offers to pull a few strings for her there, and she initially refuses. Initially.

Stars Hollow, meanwhile, tries to stage a pride parade with one gay man and a lesbian couple, because the neighboring towns wouldn’t lend them their gays. This is verbatim. Gypsy tries to urge Taylor to come out in front of all of them. He doesn’t. Why isn’t Michel invited? At least he works there now. Or is he only gay in ASP episodes, and not in Daniel Palladino’s?

Anyhow, to get Lorelai back on track, there is a big movie being shot in Woodbury, and because of the lack of gyms and mini fridges and esperesso machines, all the big name actors are staying over there, while the Dragonfly’s full of B-List actors. Michel is enraged by this, making Lorelai fear that he’s going to leave her like Sookie did. Okay then.

It’s references for reference’s sake time! One shot for the basket auction, one for an extended sequence with the real Paul Anka acting like (evidently immortal) dog Paul Anka, and finish your drink for a completely pointless second film by Kirk. Trust me.

Next we have Emily telling Luke that Richard left him a lot of money so he can work on those franchise plans they made all the way back in season 5. This actually does serve a purpose in the narrative, so I’ll let it slide, but feel free to drink for this as well, because the characters sure are. I always wonder who’s driving after all that Scotch they’re consuming.

The franchising idea, of course, goes nowhere, but on his way around with Emily, Luke finds out Emily quit therapy (good on her, that therapist was useless at best), and yet Lorelai keeps going without telling him why. He also keeps the real estate touring from Lorelai because! Artificial TV couple conflict! Because Lorelai feeling stuck and like everyone’s leaving her and like she has to expand her inn (look at that, another thing we already did back in season 5!) can’t get us conflict enough! Woohoo!

Though to be fair, once the therapy sessions are one-on-one, the therapist actually does things. Not very productive things, as she’s just paddling back and forth on the “why aren’t you married to Luke issue”, but, you know, at least she’s doing something.

Back in unnecessary-references-for-the-sake-of-references-ville, Chilton does a thing where alumni go there and give lectures to the students, about… Nothing in particular, I guess. Like, they invite Rory of all people, and she talks about how much she loved her musical composition class – not even the Jane Eyrie stuff on the blackboard. Paris gives a talk that includes making girls cry and quoting Joseph Stalin.

Now I’d understand the point of this if either of these women were talking about their careers or something, to give the students some idea about life as a working professional, but nope. We’re just here so Paris can freak out about not seeing Chad Michael Murray but still pretending it’s Tristan, to give us some insight into what a basket case she is because of her divorce, and so Francie can saunter into the bathroom like it’s 2003.

Francie definitely brought her lucky outfit.

And just because Francie makes this exact same joke doesn’t make this any less lazy writing. Is there a greater point to any of this? Not really! Headmaster Charleston (who should be retired at this point) offers Rory a job at Chilton if she gets her Master’s degree. Probably out of charity because Rory is homeless and he was friends with Richard, I guess, but still. Come on. What the fuck?

And guess what! This. Goes. Nowhere.

Well, we also get to see Rory awkwardly interacting with Paris’s kids and Doyle. And Paris has apparently turned into her mother, because her kids like the nanny better than her. Because everyone has to repeat their mother’s mistakes. Yes, look at that, I can be clever, too.

Sidenote: Rory is a horrible babysitter. All she does is have hysteric phone calls while watching the kids. One to Logan, who gets out of bad but has the phone call technically in earshot of the brunette woman lying in his bed. I refuse to believe that’s his fiancée, because Odette is the blondest name in the books. This is his layover girl between Odette and Rory times. And we never do see more than some brunette hair on the pillow next to him, so that theory is as valid as anything, really.

After her book deal falls through, Rory is truly desperate and goes to New York to write a piece for GQ on lines. A piece she isn’t being paid for. The book thing got her squat. How the fuck is she affording any of this? Did she steal one of Logan’s credit cards, and he just hasn’t noticed until now? Or is that her special mistress gift?

Oh, and by the way, she got the GQ thing by taking Mitchum up on his offer to put in a word for her. Ain’t that just the Rory we all wanted to see.

We then get to see her at work. Aka not at all condescendingly asking the people in lines what the fuck they’re doing and falling asleep while they’re talking to her phone. Of course, instead of making this into a commentary on how consumerism makes people to extreme things like waiting in line for hours for the next iPhone, and how our society has gotten there (though the German in me wants to make jokes about how they’re at least not standing in line for bananas), the general point of this seems to be that all these people are just stupid.

See, Lorelai manages to build a bit of a line subversion network, in which she gets the thing people wait in line for within minutes. Oh, those silly people, what even is the point? There are even lines that just form naturally without anyone waiting for anything!

Lorelai eventually abandons Rory there, in front of a comic book store, which eventually leads Rory to have an off-screen one night stand with a guy in a wookiee costume.

Out of all the missed opportunities in this, this is by far the biggest one. I wanted to see that! I wanted to bond with the wookiee costume guy! Make him more than a one night stand! Tom Connolly would have looked great in a leather jacket under the wookiee costume!

Alas, this is just too geeky for Rory, and she doesn’t want to see him again. And for the record, it is May at the very latest. Why are we keeping track of this?

Rory’s breakdown over having just had her first one night stand finally gets her to tell Lorelai about Logan, who so far has been her friend “Deedee” in London as far as Lorelai was concerned. And, well, credit where credit is due, Rory says her love life s fucked up, and Lorelai says sleeping with an engaged guy is sluttier than having a one night stand with a wookiee.

And yet, Lorelai is weirdly okay with this. Outside a snide comment next episode, this is all the shit she gives Rory for being a homewrecker. Again.

Well, maybe her urging Rory to take the interview with a site she doesn’t really want to work for, just so she’ll have a permanent place to stay, is kind of motivated by getting he away from Logan. For my own peace of mind.

Also, Lorelai has had Rory’s lucky outfit all along! Man, am I glad this plot point was resolved when so many other were just dropped. And you know what? It is entirely anticlimactic, because as Lorelai rightfully observed, the red washed Rory out.

The color doesn’t suit her too well, the style does nothing for her figure, and while a ponytail might look somewhat professional, it also just undercuts the unflattering tone of the dress. Just my two cents.

Not that her outfit ultimately matters, because Rory, the list maker, has never even looked at the site she is interviewing for.

Sure, she didn’t want the job, but, you know, taking one of your twenty phones to just browse on the commute to the office wouldn’t have been too much to ask for, would it? Logan fucking did it for her earlier, too! And Rory just goes there with no pitch, no preparation at all, expecting to be handed stuff on a silver platter, and if pissed when the CEO is less than impressed with her.

Like, sure, she was being head hunted before, but you still don’t show up to a job interview without at least briefly googling your potential employer. And Rory, dear, you truly do need the money.

Case in point: We end on her moving back home.

Spring was frustrating. I’d give it like a 2.5-3 on my usual rating scale.

Summer

Summer is where things get weird. And where you can really tell they ran out of material. Like, half this episode is devoted to Rory and Lorelai body shaming people at the Stars Hollow pool while being fanned by pre-teen boys, running through Stars Hollow delivering papers, and, and I timed this, 10 minutes of the Stars Hollow musical, followed by almost another 10 minutes of discussing the Stars Hollow musical. You miss NOTHING by skipping basically all of these sequences, by the way. Except for the worst and whitest white person rap that has ever been badly rapped by a white person.

So. Rory is back home, except she isn’t, except she is. And April comes for a visit!

April is delightful, really. She only watches German silent movies and protests for pot legalization because of civil liberties. She puts on this cultured, intelligent front and then has a panic attack in Rory’s room, because Rory being back in her childhood home makes her feel for her own future. Also, Rory and April sort of hanging out is just all kinds of fun.

Rory spends the entire episode in denial about being back, despite, you know, really being back with no actual plans or prospects allowing her to move out again, and she cements this when she takes over the Stars Hollow Gazette, a newspaper put out by only three people and on a DOS PC. The job as editor pays nothing, and it is implied Lorelai and her have to deliver any and all newspapers on foot throughout all Stars Hollow, with their preteen boy slaves.

I already mentioned that Rory taught her to call her “khaleesi”, right? This is such a great burn, really. Alexis Bledel is kind of the Emilia Clarke of this show. Though she’d still win in a direct acting competition between the two, she’s just outclassed by Lauren Graham, Kelly Bishop, and Scott Patterson.

Anyhow, when all is bleakest, who saunters back into Rory’s life?

There he is. And on fist watch, I really liked he part in this mess, but on rewatch, I want to yell at him to get the fuck away.

See, Jess is kind of only around to help Luke get Liz and TJ (both not appearing in this THANK GOD) get out of some weird vegetable cult. He shows up at Rory’s office, she laments the absence of her underwear as seen in the trailers, and he tells her to write a book about her and her mom. A really cool personal story only Rory, and of course the writers of this show, could ever come up with.

And Rory takes to this idea immediately.

Lorelai, meanwhile, is having a bit of a crisis herself. Michel quit, more or less, leaving her for more lucrative establishments, and reminding us that there’s a theme going on with Lorelai. Because this show is so subtle about that.

Then Emily gets to kick her when she’s down. See, for some reason, nobody really remembers to check in on Emily, and when Rory finally does, she has a TV in the living room, where she also eats from a TV tray, doesn’t really get out, and one day, slept until noon. Rory tells her to go out more, and the next time Lorelai sees her is with a guy friend. Who I think is just a guy and a friend, but Emily does refer to him as a man in her life, and it’s weird.

The actual point to this is Emily revealing to Lorelai that her roommate has been out looking at possible franchise sites with her, and then concluding that Luke hasn’t told Lorelai about that. Because they’re just roommates without rings, you see.

Already in a good mood, they all drive out to look at Richard’s fifth tombstone, which has the wrong kind of quotation marks, so Emily demands it be redone a another time. Rory then tells her mom all about the amazing book she’s writing… Apparently only about Lorelai, with Rory being more of a plot device in the form of an unborn baby.

Lorelai is not exactly cool with the thought of Rory publishing something that highlights all the struggles she’s been through, and the missteps she might have made as a mother (and when your kid is 32, homeless, makes most of her money from being the mistress of a guy she dated in college, and you already have a bit of a Martell guilt complex, I think that’s understandable), and they have a fight at Richard’s grave. Which is one of exactly three moments we see Rory being affected by the loss of her grandfather in a roundabout way, while this is a constant thing for Lorelai and Emily.

To top it all off, when Lorelai remarks that sure, Rory is a grown woman and can do whatever she likes, Rory drops this gem:

“We don’t do the passive-aggressive thing, that’s how you and your mother work!”

Rory dearest, thank you for reminding us that there’s a theme here, but also, don’t you think you may have forced the tone a little bit, by gleefully planning on airing your mom’s dirty laundry in that little passion project of yours?

Also, ironically, I really don’t think this was necessarily what Jess meant. He said to write about Lorelai and Rory’s relationship, so, what we see on the show, not the messy stuff that would be seen in a prequel. As in, the stuff Rory was actually around for and aware of.

Anyhow, in an even better mood, Lorelai drives to Luke’s diner and they yell about keeping stuff from each other, and how Lorelai arranged for them to keep their family lives separate all these years, and Luke just went along with it. Remember when I said this all was just there to set up cheap relationship drama? Well, here you go.

Speaking of which, Rory is venting at Lane about how dare Lorelai not be on board with this one thing she wants to do, after Lorelai has been on board with most of her whims for 32 years. She calls Logan out of reflex, and they kind of break up because his fiancée is now living with him permanently. Something that came up earlier in the episode, by the way, when Rory got horribly offended that she’d have to stay in a hotel like a Geisha from now on.

Rory, sweetheart, like a mistress. The profession of a Geisha does not include sleeping with the men providing for her, at least not necessarily. Those are just the dramatized stories we get over here, and shit that has been perpetrated by cultural misunderstanding during the American occupation of Japan, which included prostitutes posing as geishas, and I’m sorry, this is just a personal pet peeve of mine.

Anyhow. Rory breaks up with Logan, except not really because they were never anything to begin with, while he stands in front of the worst, I don’t even know, is this CGI? It looks bad. It looks horrible and fake.

And then, to top it all off, the ten minutes of horrible musical and ten minutes of discussion have some form of pay-off. See, the musical was basically one single Hamilton reference. Rory going “Let’s have another round tonight” and drinking Scotch with her mom in her new office was good enough of one. They actually name-drop Hamilton during this, several times. It is horrible.

But only Lorelai thought it was horrible, the entire rest of the town thought it was great, and they fight over it, implying, because themes and shit, that Lorelai might not be at the right place for her right now.

Well, now there is a new song that might make it into the musical. It is on the nose, tailored to Lorelai’s situation, and one of these things that are so close to telling that they violate the rule of show, don’t tell, but… Maybe I was numbed by all the horrible songs before this, or maybe it was Lauren Graham’s acting that just kills me every time, but… This did something for me. It is not enough pay-off to justify the insane amounts of buildup, but it worked, in and of itself, and made me tear up. Bravo, Lauren Graham and Sutton Foster, bravo. Bravae? Whatever.

Anyhow, that song motivates Lorelai to leave Luke behind for a couple of weeks, to go hiking as an homage to Wild, the book not the movie.

This episode, man. It has so many great bits to it that without the musical and the pool scenes, it easily could have been a 4. This way, it’s a 2. Maybe a 2.5. Edit it down to a regular TV episode and it’d be amazing.

Fall

Lorelai struggles with hiking gear, weather conditions, and a bit of a rivalry between book snobs and movie pretenders when it comes to going on this trail. I’ve seen people complain that Lorelai would go with the movie over the book, but without having any idea what this is about, I’d say that we have seen Lorelai read before, and she strikes me as a purist in some things. Jess appreciates that, by the way.

While there, she bonds with other book snobs, and realized that they’re all in horrible life circumstances at the moment, and she has it pretty good in comparison. Of course she gets to monologue about her fears of standing still while everyone else keeps moving on first, but hey.

Luke is very out of sorts, and because he’s currently around, Jess plays fairy godmother for him, too. It’s kind of his thing now for reasons that delighted me on my first watch and make me mad now, so I’ll move on.

He’s… Fairly efficient, too.

“Communication problems, huh? Never experienced that myself.”

It’s kind of weird to see them talk about relationship issues, but, you know, sweet. This is the only scene in this entire thing that features two men and not one person named Gilmore in it, and as I pointed out during the season 7 retrospective, these two are the only ones who can actually pull that off on this show. The only male relationship that matters, really.

Well, Jess too comes to the conclusion that Lorelai Gilmore hiking probably means she’s leaving Luke, but he manages to temporarily make him happy anyhow. See, Luke was so out of sorts that he gave out the correct wifi password, so now his diner is full of people with electronic devices doing shit on them and not talking or whatever. Jess rips out the router, which clears them all out.

Rory, meanwhile, gets weird clues left behind her workspace, resulting in her being kidnapped by the Life and Death brigade for a weird musical montage, admittedly snazzy costumes, a way too long night in which they buy a tango club, and a “perfect” last time with Logan at some sort of hotel. And as much as I appreciated Matt Czuchry’s abs, seriously, guys?

This entire sequence is just bad. No charm, no nothing, really. And while I know that these people have never been the most morally upstanding of individuals, if my friend was engaged, and yet spent an exorbitant amount of money to kidnap his ex-girlfriend, stage this entire shebang for her, and bang her one last time in a hotel, I might at least politely suggest he maybe overthink whether he really wants to marry that other girl? At least a little?

None of this is of any concern though, and the emotional goodbyes Rory has with the guys might have, you know, worked, in a way, if we had seen her have any emotional connection to them, but they just showed up, to kidnap her and get her laid. So profound, deeply moving.

Logan offers her a house, by the way, where she can write her book, which she is still going forward with despite Lorelai’s veto. Rory turns him down. She already has the perfect house to write this story in.

Alright, I’ll admit it. Rory revisiting her grandparents’ house and writing the story (called “The Gilmore Girls” because duh) is the most beautiful moment of her storyline. I thoroughly enjoyed this entire sequence, and if this was what her story had been ultimately about, I’d have been fine with that. But oh boy, is it ever not.

Lorelai, meanwhile, lost her hiking permit and is forced to reconsider. She drives away to find coffee, finds the establishment closed, hikes up a hill behind it, and is just hit by whatever she had been hoping the hiking would do for her.

Her first instinct, because this is what really matters at this point, is to call Emily, and finally tell her a very sweet story about an amazing day she spent with Richard after having a horrible time at school.

This entire section of the review will be me violently fluctuating between being extremely annoyed by the material, or earnestly moved. This is maybe the most moving moment of the entire thing. Just… Lauren Graham, man. And Kelly Bishop.

And the hits just keep on coming, because Scott Patterson would very much like an Emmy as well, I guess.

Lorelai makes it home, and is about to tell him something, but Luke cuts her off, with… Well. You know, when you have been hammering home a theme so hard, what with the abandonment issues, hitting all the right chords isn’t all that hard. It’s not. And yet he still gives exactly the speech Lorelai has needed to hear from him.

“I am not unhappy. I am not unsatisfied. […] I’ll do whatever it takes to fix this thing.”

If the entire arc of a character has been about their fear of being left behind by everyone, writing a speech by someone telling them they will never leave, not after all they’ve been through together, isn’t hard. This doesn’t make this any less moving, and it feels more earned than basically anything else the revival has given us. It is perfect. It is a conversation these two should have had years ago, sure, and yet, I can suspend my disbelief and bawl my eyes out for a minute.

Of course, Lorelai was not at all ready to leave him. She was ready to pick that constant plot thread back up and tell him they should get married already. She has already set the date, it’s within the month (we’re keeping track of time here), and everything’s set. And unlike season 6, Luke’s reaction now is to run out the room and get the engagement ring he has been holding onto since then, and just like that, here we are.

“If this goes on for much longer, the only way out is in a body bag.” – “And now we don’t have to write our vows.”

Emily, meanwhile, is on vacation in Nantucket, where she promptly sort of gets rid of her gentleman friend, which is okay, because she’s staying there with Bertha and her family. Who she still can’t understand.

She then goes to visit a whaling museum, and, well. I guess it’s safe to say Emily is having the time of her life there. And after that, she has trouble fitting back in with her DAR friends and everything, calling it all bullshit while they’re being condescending towards a trophy wife (who, of course, is blond). It’s a pretty awesome moment for her, even though hearing her say the word “bullshit” is… Almost as shocking as seeing her in jeans and a T-shirt.

Lorelai, meanwhile, has one other problem to sort through. Michel is still leaving, and it is impossible to find a worthy replacement for him. But maybe she won’t have to. See, Michel’s biggest issue was that there is no room for growth with the Dragonfly. Yet one day, Lorelai finds that the Stars Hollow nursing home will be closed soon, and it is a beautiful house, and very big, and she gets ideas. Ideas that mess with other beautiful things a bit, but more on that later.

She and Rory make up during a midnight meeting in the kitchen, and she even agrees to read the first three chapters of Rory’s book. Until she doesn’t, of course, and tells Rory to drop the “the” in “The Gilmore Girls”. Very clever, I am in awe.

While Lorelai is deep in wedding preparations, Rory has two… Meetings that seemed sweet on the first watch, but now just infuriate me. I’ll get into detail on what’s wrong with her meeting Christopher later, but for now I’m going to say it felt a lot like she was getting closure, which made it kind of nice on the first go. Also, his actor hasn’t aged a day and now looks to be around her age. It’s freaking me out.

Also, another gem: When Rory tells him Luke and Lorelai are getting married, and asks him not to come, he says this:

“Knowing when to admit defeat is one of my greater qualities.”

Sure. That and making self-deprecating jokes you don’t even realize you’re making.

Rory’s second meeting happens in DMoFM, of all the gin joints, because we needed to have one of those scenes in this. She runs into Dean, we learn he’s married again, with four kids, one of them on the way. And as if they were contractually obligated, this brief meeting consists of Rory telling him that in her book, he’d be the greatest boyfriend ever, and he taught her what safe feels like. Like all the times he was physically imposing and stalked your new boyfriend into dark alleyways.

But, hey, she’s in difficult circumstances right now, so I’ll cut her some slack. In this regard. Only.

Lorelai, meanwhile, gets some closure of her own. With Emily. Who is selling the house and moving to Nantucket, where she finally owns a house in her own name. Lorelai then asks her for money to buy the former nursing home, and Emily agrees, if Luke and her come visit twice a year.

This kind of undercuts the finale of season 7, but hey. It is sweet. Then they toast to the circle of life.

Because themes. And shit. Mostly shit at this point, actually.

Someone else drops by for the finale! Sookie raids the kitchen and bakes all of the wedding cakes! And he and Lorelai get a very touching scene together, where they’re still best friends and it’s nice. And the only scene Melissa McCarthy had time to do, unfortunately.

Emily has since finalized her move to Nantucket, where she lives next to Bertha’s family, and takes care of Bertha who is sick. You know, when she isn’t busy traumatizing children at the whaling museum.

See, Emily Gilmore has her first ever job now! She describes whaling techniques through the ages, in vicious detail, and you can just tell she is having the time of her life with it. Her arc is a bit weird, but she is just so happy in the end, so… Yeah. This was an amazing way for her to end up, and I am thoroughly happy with it.

We cut over to the very second scene in which only men talk, and it’s still Jess and Luke, so it still works, but Kirk is there, too. He interrupts Jess being sweet about Luke looking good in his wedding outfit by informing them he went kind of overboard with the wedding decorations. This leads to my favorite ensemble moment, in which Jess sits in the corner and double-teams Luke with Lorelai in snarking about things, and they all just have a nice family moment together while mocking Luke for insisting he doesn’t see the bride before the wedding.

Of course, Luke loses out, and Lorelai is just about to order Pizza for everyone, when Jess… Bolts. As he does. Rory shows him her first three chapters on the way out, and Luke kind of awkwardly asks Jess whether he’s “over that”. Jess says yes, but after saying goodbye, does this longing stare thing through the window while Rory takes care of Kirk, and… I should be here, squealing, but I’m not. We’re getting close to why.

The night before the wedding, Lorelai and Luke decide that, hey, eloping has sort of been their thing before. The thing they broke up over dramatically, but third time’s the charm, right? So they do that. They grab Rory. And Lane and Michel for some reason. Drive out to the town, and get married in a charmingly weird sequence surrounded by the decorations Kirk has set up.

The background music is “Reflecting Light” by Sam Philips, the same song that played when Luke and Lorelai danced back in season 4. And while I have strong feelings about Emily not being there, and Jess not being there as the best man, and Sookie not being there despite being sort of around, and all of that, well. It is a beautiful sequence, and there will be an off-screen wedding with everyone and also flashbmobs, so there’s that.

And they dance!

Which is still sexy. Yes, every review.

That is, of course, assuming the wedding isn’t off after what happens next, which… Ugh.

Look. The final four words have been a thing that had been teased since forever. Everyone was sooo hyper for ASP to finally get to pull them off now. We all were expecting something sweet, something comforting, something about Lorelai and Rory, and… Well.

We get this scene, mirroring the opening scene, with Lorelai and Rory sitting on the town gazebo and talking, about benign things first, and then about soul mates and needing things to be right, and for a bit there, I sort of, in the back of my mind, thought Rory was about to bolt and go to Jess to get some maid of honor/best man action before the wedding or something, buuut nope.

Instead of any of that, or just a sweet mother daughter moment, Rory chooses this moment, right between her mom’s weddings, to drop the bomb that she is pregnant. And those are the four last words. And then we cut to the ending credits, which are underscored by “Where You Lead, I Will Follow”. Fuck everything.

No.

Dammit, I did the rating thing before. Okay. This episode, without the last four words? 4.5. Bordering on a 5, even. I haven’t given out 5s since season 3. But WITH the last four words? 2. And I will unpack this for the final kicker, because it deserves to be the last thing we talk about. But for now, a few other things I think warrant mentioning.

The positives

Look, I made no secret of it. I love Lorelai’s arc in this. It is very heavy-handed in places, yes, but it’s also kind of perfect. I’m so glad they kept her and Luke together and just with minor convoluted problems for all of this, and the acting was just so, so, so powerful.

Like, the only reason Luke was even a recurring character to begin with was the chemistry between Scott Patterson and Lauren Graham. And even 15 years after that was established, they still have it. They’re amazing together. Even Rory becomes a lot more bearable when she’s around Lorelai. And given all the bullshit there, that’s no small feat.

Emily, as well, had a very charming and weird arc, but seeing her happy in the end is just so, so rewarding. Yes, the extended latinx family that took over her house and life kind of made me uncomfortable, but not any more or less to than any other maid Emily has ever had. And they turned all out to be truly sweet people with the best intentions.

Also, history major Emily working in a museum is just wonderful.

Oh, and, well, a certain fashion moment did not not happen.

Full Circle, bitches!

Look, I found a way to turn this gay again! And I mean, the door is wide open after the end…

Also wonderful are the set designs. The show hasn’t been just this breathtakingly pretty since season 2, I think. That’s the last time I explicitly noticed how pretty everything was. The twinkle light budget alone… Man. And then the nature shots Emily and Lorelai get in the last episode, just… Yeah. That was nice.

And now let’s stop being nice.

All you are is mean

Gilmore Girls has never been the most sensitive show when it came to certain issues. In fact, the only thing it ever really took a refreshingly progressive stance on was feminism, sort of, and only when there were no fat people that weren’t Sookie involved. Or blonds. So even that strong point was inconsistent as hell. However, it has never felt downright mean before. At least not to anyone but actual characters on the show.

And this isn’t even getting into all the reasons I feel personally victimized by the last four words. This is just pointing out the various middle fingers the show extends towards a number of people, some of which being their own key demographic.

The first kitchen scene with Luke has Lorelai yell out trigger warnings, body shaming, and war on Christmas as buzzwords to annoy him. I mean, I guess kudos for using both liberal and conservative things there in an attempt to create a balanced… Uhm… Target? Or something? But come on. Cheap shots.

But this goes on. The insufferable blond Rory tries to work with? A feminist and environmentalist activist, because of course. She even jokes about voting for Brexit out of protest. Isn’t that just so clever.

Paris’s reason for divorcing Doyle is that he has become a Hollywood screenwriter, and have you been to the movies lately? That one is admittedly punching up rather than down, but it still feels malicious, as does the way Doyle talks about his career. He just sold these suckers a thing he came up with at the airport! Yes, I know Gilmore Girls was a pitch ASP came up with at the top of her head, too, but still.

And of course, there are two sequences with Rory and Lorelai just sitting at the pool and being disgusted by fat people in swim suits. I mean, I know they were struggling to fill the time in Summer especially, but come on.

But nothing, nothing at all, annoys me as much as the “30something Gang” that’s hanging around Stars Hollow; all kids who went to college, couldn’t make it in the real world, and moved back into their childhood bedrooms, like Rory.

Yet the point seems to be that, unlike Rory, these are loser kids. They are so sensitive, their moms have a self-help group to help them find jobs, and they do weird things like the “I drink your milkshake” bit. They’re…every millennial meme your annoying relatives have ever liked on Facebook. And the weird thing is, these people are the same demographic that would have grown up watching Gilmore Girls. I mean, they’re older than me, but I was a little younger than the target audience anyhow.

So… Is this what ASP thinks of her own fans? How she sees us? I mean, the thing is, the 30somethings suffer a very common fate in today’s economy. Jobs are rare, and partially because of media representation, no one wants to hire millennials, those over-sensitive, constantly triggered, overly PC people who don’t eat cereal, buy diamonds or houses, read too much during their free time and when they have a job, they won’t even take their vacation days because they fear being replaced.

Yeah, stick it to those people, and not to the economy and the political and social climate that has caused this issue. That’s bold story telling.

And yet, somehow, I don’t see any of these people going into a job interview without even glancing at the site that is potentially hiring them. Which leads us to…

A Walking Disaster

Rory, in this, is a mess. There is no better way to put it. She has no direction, and makes no attempts to get either her personal or professional life under control. And that scene where she just expects to be hired on the spot because the people there have asked her to come in, without offering anything she could bring to the site or even knowing what kind of site it is might just be the perfect microcosm of who Rory Gilmore has become. A spoiled and entitled brat who is completely lost in a world where not everyone worships her.

Even people who do worship her are no good, like Paul. Yes, he is a little boring, but he goes out of his way to do nice things for her and her family, and seems to be otherwise single, too. You know, unlike Logan with his absentee fiancée.

What the fuck is this? First, don’t be fuck buddies with a guy who once proposed to you. Why would you? And that is a legitimate question beyond my general dislike of Logan. They ended on very bad terms. Sure, it’s been 9 years, but how did this happen? Why is he even in London? How did they meet again? Logan was pretty damn fucking hurt at the end of season seven, and if we’re keeping marriages and twins around, we gotta keep that canon as well, people.

And I don’t even think we’re supposed to really judge them for this? Everyone else is just so chill with the adultery going on, Lorelai, the Life and Death brigade… Cheating is a horrible thing to do, people. And Rory herself never even remembered to break up with Paul. Paul did it himself, in the very last scene. Just. Ugh.

Unwrapping the Baby Bomb

The nice parts of Rory’s story are the ones she gets from Jess’s influence, because themes and shit. Jess is just everyone’s fairy godmother, especially hers. Writing that book about her and her mother should have given her closure, and time to reflect her life and maybe a few certain choices detailed above. The sequence in which she tours the Gilmore residence for inspiration and writes in her grandfather’s old study is beautiful.

And she does… Reflect, in a way. One that makes me angry.

She talks to Christopher – his only appearance in this entire thing – and on first watch, the talk made me happy. It seemed to be about getting closure. It’s the rewatch that punches you in the gut, because even with only about five minutes of screen time, Christopher manages to ruin everything.

Rory is coming to him for advice, asking how he felt about Lorelai making the call of raising her alone. At first, I took this as an attempt to get his side of the story, both for the book and for herself. Maybe as an outcry, trying to find out why he never fought for her (or paid child support), and Rory looked, to me, on first watch, adequately put out by his insistence that Lorelai raising her alone was just simply meant to be.

That looks like standard Christopher cop-out behavior to me, something Rory has been aware of ever since she was 17, refusing any and all responsibility for how things went down. The truth is, Christopher is a horrible father for Rory. And a horrible role model. I have outlined in my very second review of this series how his influence seriously fucked her up. And this lingers.

When I discussed promo material for the revival, I linked to a video where Alexis Bledel voiced the theory that to Rory, Logan represents what she thinks her father is like. Back then, I took this as some meaningful insight from an actress who at least knew her character well.

Well, throw that out the fucking window, why don’t you. There is no need for analytical ability at all to come to this conclusion, considering how the last four words bomb basically just tells us this, to our faces, with no ambiguity at all.

Rory sought out her father for an opinion on taking the option away from fathers to be there for their kids.

You know who she should have talked to about this instead? Who had this exact thing happen to him? Luke! And he sure as hell didn’t take the fact that his daughter grew up without a father and a significantly less financially stable situation than she could have had in stride, as something that was just “meant to be”.

Instead, he kind of flipped over this, and went out of his way to be there for her. Hell, even now, he is paying for April’s grad school and trips to Germany (come hang out with me? I liked you before you became kinda cool). Take more advice from your real father figure, Rory, come on.

Who’s Your Daddy?

So. Logan is her Christopher, and I guess Rory is going to raise the kid without even telling him about it, because that’s an option when your baby daddy is kind of a big deal in society.

And yes, the baby daddy is definitely Logan. We kept track of time, remember? When Rory drops the bomb, it is November 5th, the sign says so. How that is still within the month from when Lorelai returned, I have no clue, but let’s just take it.

The whole weird abduction tango club thing happened probably in the beginning of October, since it was Halloween themed and all the leaves had already turned. Giving Rory one month and one missed period to figure this out. That’s still super early, but hey, at least somewhat mathematically possible.

Now, I for one would totally be for Team Wookiee, but unfortunately, that encounter happened in May at the latest, meaning Rory would be like five months along, and definitely showing at this point. Too bad, really.

It also can’t be Paul, because she kinda hasn’t seen him since January. And if she’d gotten pregnant then, she’d be dropping the actual baby any day now instead of the announcement.

And just to entertain this, I’ve also seen the theory fly around that Rory and Jess have been fucking off-screen. Which would explain why he’s still infatuated with her over a decade later, but no. This has not been seeded at all.

A legitimate theory as to why Jess is still into her, but he is canonically her only boyfriend who never got that far.

No, the father is Logan. ASP herself said she wasn’t even trying to be cryptic about it. He’s the Christopher here. And Dean is the Max, the perfect guy Rory should forever self-flagellate herself for letting go. Except that he was the one who broke up with her. Three times.

That means she also should have a Luke. And this would previously have delighted me, but no. Run, poor guy.

Implications Matter

So just how are we supposed to take this ending?

ASP herself also said that Rory doesn’t even necessarily have to keep this baby, that there are options and choices. Kind of like that poster implied that showed up in her dorm room in season 5, the season when Logan started being around to be her Christopher.

Just saying, not not there.

But if she wasn’t planning on keeping the baby, why would she choose her mother’s wedding day to mention it at all? Why would she go visit her father to ask for absolution for making the choice to raise this child alone, like her mother did?

No, no, this doesn’t add up. And it also doesn’t help that all of this happens after Rory has started writing the book about her mother, something she clearly considers to be an inspiration here.

So is the implication that Rory is going to keep the child, because her mother also raised her alone and she turned out fine?

Because, no. Rory did not turn out fine. She is a morally flexible, unemployed, quite despicable human being at this point. She has no income, no permanent address outside of her childhood home, no job lined up, and has never had a long-term relationship in her life. She also plainly doesn’t have the drive that Lorelai had. Remember how she quit school when one asshole told her she didn’t have it? An asshole that, by the way, at this point, has been proven right three times over.

And that’s the nicer interpretation. This assumes all of this is an accident, like Lorelai’s pregnancy was. There is a far darker option that is actually just as likely.

See, when sleeping with Logan that last time, Rory was already planning the book, and had looked over old articles about Lorelai with a fond smile. You could also see this as Rory getting pregnant on purpose, because she thinks this child might make her get her life back on track. Or on any kind of track to begin with.

Think about it! This explains why they wouldn’t use protection for this little endeavor, especially on a show that always had some form of effective birth control available under all circumstances. Rory had a condom ready in her bedroom when Dean surprised her, for fuck’s sake. Literally.

Remember when Rory had an answer to this?

And this goes on. Rory of all people should know that even when you try and isolate your child from its father, it’ll still at least, you know, grow up knowing that it’s missing someone. Even if that someone is likely a perpetual ruiner of all the things, like Christopher was, which, you know, has fucked up Rory to this day, too.

And even beyond that, did Rory forget how horrible she felt that one time in season 1, when her paternal grandparents refused to get to know her at all because she was conceived out of wedlock? That sure as hell didn’t feel good. With her child, those people are going to be the Huntzbergers, while Logan is married to another woman he was already engaged with during conception.

Then again, given the fact that she has no prospects at all, it is probably just as likely that Lorelai and Luke are going to raise the child as their own, while she goes back to maybe get her master’s and start teaching at Chilton for some semblance of stability, or something. Look, she actually did become a surrogate like she joked with Jess about! So I guess that plot point went somewhere after all.

The Story the Meant to Tell?

The one clear theme in this entire thing is that things will repeat themselves. The circle of life, and all that bullshit.

Now this is what we call a theme. And a theme is the reason your story is being told.

So the story ASP meant to tell here was that Rory and Lorelai were so much alike, they end up in the same predicament? An unwanted pregnancy? Like it was meant to be, unavoidable? Yikes. That’s… Okay.

First of all. The cutesy “like mother, like daughter” thing was never really about Lorelai and Rory as people. The Rory who joked about being like her mom in the pilot episode all those years ago was already a fundamentally different person than Lorelai. Now maybe Lorelai would have been a studious Ivy League bound overachiever and list maker as a teenager, too, had her parents not been who they were. But the evidence for that is… Well.

They were alike in their caffeine addictions, food intake, pace of speech, taste in pop culture, affinity for pop culture references, and, if you squint a bit, kinda sorta maybe taste in men. And that’s it. And that’s really all it should be.

The true tragic parallel mother and daughter pair has always been Lorelai and Emily, because they are just too much alike. Too much alike to get along, and also just too much alike to treat their staff well, among other things. Rory was always supposed to be like Richard. Hell, in her adult life, Rory is a lot more like her own father than her mother, who had a steady job and income at age 17 and relentlessly worked her way up. Successfully so, and even when things got rough, she made it through. There’s a reason season 4 had the best arc for Lorelai outside of this one.

But that’s just the thing, for this entire show, starting with the very first episode, Lorelai’s overarching arc has been to provide a better life for Rory than she has had. To avoid Rory ending up like her. And here Rory is, 16 years later, and admittedly 16 years older, having had all the opportunities in her life ever, and she still ends up accidentally pregnant out of wedlock and under arguably worse circumstances than Lorelai.

It’s a slap in the face to everything this show has been about, really. Or maybe it has never been about that. Maybe this was a show about futility, how you just can’t avoid certain fates that the circle of life throws at you.

But that just leads to even bigger concerns.

Storytelling, Ethics, and Me

Let’s go out on a personal sob story, why don’t we?

Remember how for season 5, I wrote this long disclaimer about how Rory’s life up to that point sort of resembled my own? I’m going to tell you a little more now.

This show started airing in 2000. Not that long ago, and not exactly the 1950s, but I clearly remember that there were 3 kids in my class whose parents were divorced or separated, or something like that. In my first grade class. And the way these kids and their mothers were talked about was… Well. I thought they were weird for not having a father around back then. They were “those” kids. And I didn’t even begin to understand the implications of that thinking.

Two years later, my own parents separated. Karma, maybe, but not the point here. Now I was one of “those” kids. And I remember being seriously concerned about that. At age 8. In the year 2002.

To this day, single mothers are at a great risk for poverty, and when asked about it, the conservative politicians currently in charge of most governments more or less shrug and say “Well, if they can’t keep a man…”. These attitudes are pervasive as fuck. And people still think about single mothers that way everywhere.

So is it any wonder that I, and a whole bunch of kids like me, latched on to this show, that made the whole single parenthood thing look okay, and fun, and had the kid be great? Headed for great things? That seemed to avoid all the stereotypes about how children raised in “broken homes” end up? How we all can never have stable long-term relationships, are doomed to get divorced in higher numbers than the kids with nuclear families, and all that?

But hey, turns out that was never what the show was supposed to be about after all. Rory is not able to overcome the damage done to her by her unstable family situation. She is stuck repeating her mother’s life choices, albeit with 16 additional years of failure thrown in there. And beyond that, she’s also a wrecker of potential nuclear families herself. Twice. Thanks for that, show.

Now, I’m not someone who tells content creators to tell the stories their audience wants to hear, far from it. But I do think you should be aware of how the content you create can affect your audience, especially when you were a bit of a trailblazer in the depiction of single motherhood in a mostly positive light. But ASP doesn’t seem to even consider that when asked. She considers this just one of those curveballs life throws at you, lol. And by life, she probably means her own writing.

With no regard for the larger issues this addresses. So yeah, thank you for being yet another voice saying that kids from divorced households or single parents aren’t going to succeed in life and will probably never be able to have healthy and stable long-term relationships themselves, in crass contrast to the positive tone of the show to this point. Thank you so much. Haven’t heard that one before.

Conclusion

And here we go. My longest piece yet, for something that had only 6 hours’ worth of content.  I’m sorry for the little sob story there, but Gilmore Girls has meant a lot for me growing up, and I started writing these behemoths of reviews out of love for the material, and right now,  I am still feeling a bit dirty for ever liking it, since it seems to subscribe to a message I just cannot agree with or condone in any way, at all.

That doesn’t mean it was… Bad, really. As I said in the brief and mostly spoiler-free review, it’s not a bad 6 hours of television, outside of the larger implications. I’d rewatch all of Lorelai’s and Emily’s scenes in a heartbeat. It’s the interesting conundrum of season 6, lots of great stuff buried under a lot of shit.

All episodes do suffer from the fact that they needed to fill 90 minutes. There is a lot of superfluous fluff that only made things drag. A lot of the plot points don’t make much sense with the 10 year time frame between the season 7 finale and this – and yeah, originally, Rory wasn’t even given 10 years of professional failure before getting pregnant. Just, straight out of college, never getting a chance even.

And that is maybe the biggest tragedy of it all; this revival was meant to improve upon the ending the series got with the thoroughly underwhelming season 7, outside of the Palladino’s hands. Something it succeeded in, actually. These episodes did improve upon the original ending – in the sense that the original ending now seems so much better in comparison, as it retains the optimism of the show, and what I apparently wrongfully perceived as the original themes.

Yes, season 7 now looks better in retrospect. And I can’t even begin to explain how sad typing that sentence out makes me.

Thank you all for sticking with me through all of these pieces (11! I have written 11 Gilmore Girls articles in total, holy fuck), and I am so sorry this didn’t end on a high note. I wanted to love this. I really did.


Images courtesy of Netflix, Warner Bros., and the CW

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Jana should be studying for her law degree right now. She prefers to obsess over pop culture instead.

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