Written by Camilla King

Arts

Review: Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life

Camilla King was knicker-wettingly excited about the new mini-series (sorry Netflix, “four part event”) of Gilmore Girls. But did it come good? Contains SPOILERS.

The Girls can't help it: Emily (Kelly Bishop), Lorelai (Lauren Graham) and Rory (Alexis Bledel) Gilmore. Photos: Netflix.

The Girls can’t help it: Emily (Kelly Bishop), Lorelai (Lauren Graham) and Rory (Alexis Bledel) Gilmore. Photos: Netflix.

The year 2016 hasn’t exactly been a highlight in the earth’s history, and so I’d pretty much pinned all my hopes on Netflix’s revival, Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, dropping onto the dying embers of the year and making things right again.

But it wasn’t to be. I’ve actually worried that it could be my fault. Perhaps I put too much pressure on Gilmore Girls and it caved under the weight of my expectations. If so, I apologise to all the other obsessives out there. I’ll be less hopeful next time something good looks likely to happen, I promise.

This is not to say that A Year in the Life was all bad, but it could have been so much better. As any true fan will know, the show’s creator Amy Sherman-Palladino was, according to its previous TV network The CW, cut out of season seven due to fee negotiations falling through.

The theory goes that the final season’s story arc went against Sherman-Palladino’s own plans for her characters (there’s an excellent article which examines this in more detail here) and that she’s used the revival to set the record straight, essentially replacing that entire last season with these new episodes.

I get that it must be incredibly frustrating to have to sit back and watch someone else write a completely different set of endings for characters lovingly crafted over 10 long years, but the two fingered salute that Sherman-Palladino gives the season seven writers has seriously backfired on her own creation.

“My heart refuses to believe that Rory’s story was supposed to end with her an entitled millennial doomed to repeat her mother’s life all over again. No matter how strong and determined the woman, fate will out? Perlease.”

Let’s take Rory, for example. What the actual fuck, Rory? Where did this cheating, whiney, flakey, crap-at-her-job Rory come from? At the end of season seven she rejected Logan, his money and his status. She graduated top of her class at Yale and set Stars Hollow aside for a life of adventure and writing with a plumb job covering Obama’s election campaign. Yay Rory!

In the revival Rory is down on her luck, bafflingly poor considering her trust fund, shagging Logan even though he’s engaged to someone else, treating her own boyfriend like shit, and ships all her belongings to five different addresses simply to set up a bizarre storyline about her lucky interview outfit. Really?

My heart refuses to believe that Rory’s story was supposed to end with her an entitled millennial (whatever her protestations to the contrary) doomed to repeat her mother’s life all over again. No matter how strong and determined the woman, fate will out? Perlease. Really? Just to shoehorn in the writing of Gilmore Girls the novel and those all-important four final words…

And what happened to Lorelai? She and Rory have always acted as each other’s moral compass; Rory the peacemaker between Lorelai and her parents; Lorelai pulling Rory back down to earth whenever she became too awestruck by high society. But in the revival Lorelai doesn’t bat an eyelid at Rory’s horrendous treatment of Paul, or her relationship with Logan. It just doesn’t ring true.

At the heart of the (too many to mention one-by-one) faults in the revival is the length of each episode. 90 minutes should have been a dream for anyone wanting more Gilmore Girls, but it turned out to be unwieldy and indulgent.

Jokes that could have lasted for a couple of minutes were drawn out to breaking point. Take ‘Stars Hollow The Musical’ which should have been a perfect Kirk/Taylor vehicle, but turned into a 10-minute burn of every modern musical. We weren’t even left to figure out the laughs for ourselves; “I’m rapping, like in Hamilton”. Give me a break. It totally detracted from the emotional punch of Lorelai’s “I am not unbreakable” song.

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There was some good, though. Just enough for me to continue pushing Gilmore Girls on my friends with all the zeal of a religious convert. Patriarch Richard Gilmore’s recent death (the actor Edward Herrmann who played him died in 2014) was handled beautifully. The ripples it caused for all three Gilmore women rang absolutely true.

Kelly Bishop as Emily Gilmore was the standout of the whole revival for me. While other pop culture quips grated (please, no more Goop references, and let’s just pretend that whole Wild bit never happened), Emily’s Marie Kondo-ing of her belongings (“No joy!”) was perfect. I couldn’t help but cheer when she eventually called bullshit, repeatedly, on her stuck-up DAR friends, and I have high hopes for her new life in Nantucket. Let’s also just take a moment to appreciate her excellent taste in knitwear.

I can’t mention the high points without applauding the official coming out of Michel, now married and planning a family with his husband, which just goes to show how far telly has come in the last 10 years. Paris and Doyle – they’re going to work things out, I’m sure of it, don’t worry. And Sookie, I wish we could have had more Sookie. And more Jess. I’ll always love you, Jess, even if Rory will never truly appreciate your beautiful face.

Let’s not forget the wedding; what a lovely and fitting ending that was. Kirk finally coming good, Reflecting Light by Sam Phillips (the same song that Lorelai and Luke first danced to at Liz and TJ’s wedding back in season 4) playing over the whole scene, romantic, dreamy, whimsical; all the things that Gilmore Girls does best. Just don’t make eye contact with Luke’s hairpiece.

@millking2301

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Written by Camilla King

Freelancer in the arts. Unwilling expert on Batman, dinosaurs and poo (there are children) and running widow of @UpDownRunner. Lover of music, cake and lady stuff. @millking2301