***Spoiler Warning: Spoilers for Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life ahead. Spoilers***
Hey internet, I’ve been reading your thoughts about the Gilmore Girls revival, and well … can we all just calm down a minute? While I was sobbing my way through the opening moments of “Winter” and several other heartwarming moments through the rest of the seasons, some people were apparently sharpening their large garden shears and ripping the series end to end. It’s damned bloody out there! Here I thought, in the midst of disheartening current affairs, snuggling up with my television family would be the warmest shelter around (now with more sex and alcohol, because thanks, Netflix! ) and with the first “La la la la …I happily fell back into Girls‘ open arms. Like the remnants of our own dysfunctional and sometimes laughable relations, the Gilmores and their extended communifamily are often messy, imperfect, bullshit assholes (thanks, Netflix!). If we actually sat around dissecting our own families — and I trust that now and again, we do — there’d be hella-worse going on than A Year in the Life; well, except for that gods-forsaken musical, which,
(Thanks, Netflix!) Can’t we just enjoy a series, anymore? Today, I saw a clip of Jennifer Aniston addressing — for the ninety-million, kazillionth time — the idea of a Friends reunion, and she hit the nail on the head, calling the series “nostalgic”; we don’t necessarily need to go back. Watching the old episodes is like comfort food, escape when the world outside requires it, that’s what it’s there for. I can’t think of many series that could actually capture a bit of the old magic, Friends included. Yet, despite any misgivings we might have had, and despite its flaws, Gilmore Girls did do just that. It recaptured the magic we’ve missed.
As a heightened, comedic (let’s face it, sometimes ridiculous) version of family, Girls takes dysfunction to the next level, and part of loving its characters and setting is embracing that fact. Idyllic towns may exist (I’ve lived in and around them), but Stars Hollow is obviously the fantasy take; it’s the Disneyworld version. Nobody can afford that many damned twinkle lights, or the time and people it would take to install and replace them on a regular basis and anyway, Sookie alone would have taken down the whole town in a horrible accident by now. But, never mind all that, let’s talk about this Netflix entry which gave us and Luke what we’ve always wanted, and the best of the Best Gilmore Ever: Emily.
(Thanks, Netflix!) Any complaints we might have, any problems with Rory or her stupid affair with Logan, or that pointless Paul business, even that almost 18 minute — eighteen long, drawn out, not Gilmore Girls minutes — musical are all out the door, because Emily Gilmore was an absolute treasure, every single moment she was onscreen. Her broken-hearted contemplations, the drained, inexpressible grief in her every action and inaction; her inability to deal with just being without her husband after over 50 years together was palpable, and Kelly Bishop played her character truest of all. Having to face and find herself all over again led Emily exactly where she belongs, and getting there was a privilege to watch. If we do someday (and the open-ended closing conversation certainly indicates we could) get more episodes, there’s nothing better Emily could do than to continue affecting her girls’ lives by living the heck out of her own. At this satisfying juncture, she’s got a gloriously open space in which to live, she’s surrounded by an adopted family, she’s got Rory and Lorelei not too far away, and by far the most perfect for her new occupation: terrorizing families at the local museum.
Aside from the witty wonder that is Emily, we have another important issue to discuss; the one over which we’ve sighed and cried, the most-frustratingly drawn out and denied, the meant-to-be relationship everyone knew Luke and Lorelai lied … about (dammit, that rhyming was going so well) finally came to fruition. Aside from seeing Rory come home — and leave and come back, and leave and come back; “I’m not back”! — when she and Lorelai walked into that ridiculously big, unaffordable, completely stuffed to the brim, beautiful place they call home, and Luke was bustling around in the kitchen, I almost thought it was a dream. Could it be that they’d finally gotten hitched and things were going well? Of course not, but close enough, and how sweet that Luke is running here there and everywhere, cooking for Lorelai at home, the diner, and the inn (I don’t know how he juggled that many plates). After taking care of the girls and loving them all those years, I’m just thankful he has some space to roam around, but dammit, typical Lorelai was still mulling over the relationship. The woman has worked hard to get where she is — even if it seems like she spends most of her time flitting around town — but she never really did escape her upbringing. In her head, Lorelai is generally still a spoiled, demanding woman who’s always looking for something more, something better. She’s raised her daughter to also be a spoiled, golden-child, and though both girls are kind and lovable, they’ve got faults just like the rest of us. They make poor decisions, they’re generally terrible in relationships and like Stars Hollow, they’re not always based in reality. But, just like in real life, that doesn’t make them terrible people. There are consequences, and we see Rory and Lorelai dealing with them; this mother and daughter don’t always get what they want, they do get hurt, they do hurt other people and they eventually come to realize their own faults. The dream of Luke and Lorelai, and Rory and Emily is the simplicity of what we all want, to be with people we love. With Gilmore Girls, and with A Year in the Life, they — and we — get that. It doesn’t have to be perfect; it can just be what it is.
The scenes where Lorelai leaves Luke and when she returns, and they actually talk to each other about their feelings are some of the most powerful in all GG history, evidenced by the actors (even in what we didn’t see). Scott Patterson has confessed to breaking down in tears at the time of Lorelai leaving; even if that wasn’t what Amy Sherman-Palladino was going for, and his emotions rang true. In the end, what sticks in our minds are the moments like those, the ones that made us feel like our hearts were being squeezed, the joy and relief in Luke’s face when he hears Lorelai say they should get married, and Rory and Lorelai taking that ride in the back of his truck.
Of course, there were problems and warts; it’s magic, what do you want? Rory’s life is an inexplicably aimless wandering, and Lorelai seems to think that’s just fine; Rory doesn’t give a shit about how her book might affect her mom; Lorelai was so enchanted with the wedding part of her wedding, she barely paid attention to Luke; Rory has somehow not gotten past accepting second best from Logan; Rory is apparently an alcoholic; Paris hasn’t gotten over InvisiTristan; the Rory we knew never would have gone to that interview completely unprepared to answer a single question; Rory is as thickheaded about Jess as her mother was about Luke (history destined to repeat itself); Sookie wasn’t Sookie anymore, she was Melissa McCarthy; Lane and Zack are just … WTF?, as is the appearance of a Mr. Kim, and don’t even get me started on almost 20 minutes of an unrelated to GG musical. But, you know what else there was? There was perfect Paris being perfectly Paris in her perfectly hideous jacket (those ruffled shoulders!!!), showing a Chilton bathroom door what’s what.
There was thankfully, very little Dean, and thankfully, much more Jess.
There were the right kind of cameos over which we were filled with glee …
… even if Lorelai got a little too flirty with her television brother and real life beau.
There was Michele, lots of deliciously, delightful Michele,
and just enough Taylor being Taylor,
and Miss Patty (wow!) and Babette.
In one of my favorite scenes, we were treated to Kirk’s latest (somehow two of my favorite directors, besides Kirk, the Davids Lynch and Cronenberg were worked into the script).
All in all, I’m calling the Gilmore Girls year — as opposed to real world 2016 (YOU KNOW WHAT YOU DID) — a good thing. Oohlo, is a safe place, Sherman-Palladinos, and we still love you, even if you left us …
… hanging. Is that a Wookiebaby in your belly, Rory, or are you just happy to leave us?
(This post was not sponsored by Netflix.)