Writer: Amy Sherman-Palladino (created by)
Release Date: November 25, 2016
Summary (from IMDB): Set nearly a decade after the finale of the original series, this revival follows Lorelai, Rory, and Emily Gilmore through four seasons of change.
Review: 4 out of 5 Dogwoods
(Minor) Spoiler Alert!
Stop, do not read any further if you have not seen all of Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. Seen it all? Great, let’s talk about it.
Coming back to Gilmore Girls was like coming back home from college for the winter holidays; it’s warm, it’s comfortable, and it’s nice for a short visit. For seven seasons, then an afterlife in syndication and streaming, Gilmore Girls poured its audience bottomless refills of small-town quirk and the highly caffeinated repartee of Lorelai and her daughter and best friend, Rory. Gilmore Girls returns with enough novel ideas, authentic developments, and integrity of character to justify its existence, along with being pretty darn fun throughout.
So many things are much like we remember them: Miss Patty’s ballet studio, the Sam Phillips “la la la”s on the soundtrack, the troubadour in the town square, the forceful fights between Emily and Lorelai, a solid Paris meltdown, and so many pop cultural references. That’s the Gilmore Girls we’ve known and loved, and many of the show’s best, most enduring qualities were front and center in these four episodes. At the end of the day, however, it all really works because, for all its winks and callbacks and nostalgia, it also recognizes that things have changed.
Then there were the weak spots of the revival. Rory has developed into an entitled flake, attributes that were grating at 22 but appalling at 32. If you want to be a writer so badly, Rory, consider writing literally anything. When we last saw Rory, she was off to cover the Obama campaign. Times sure have changed! The freelance-writing market is a tough one, certainly, but Rory’s convinced that somehow one published “Talk of the Town” piece entitles her to … I’m not sure what. Never pitching again? Never having to be polite? Never actually writing anything but somehow getting paid to fly to London and be Logan’s mistress? (Ugh, don’t even get me started on that relationship.) In my opinion, Rory was the weakest aspect of the revival.
That being said, I am ready to excuse Rory’s character and her failings because I think the real answer behind Rory’s miserable flailing is that show creator and writer Amy Sherman-Palladino had this story-line in mind for Rory ten years ago, when she was 22. A Year in the Life was conceived as a kind of do-over. The creator, Amy Sherman-Palladino, left the original series after six seasons (along with her husband and writing partner, Daniel Palladino) in a contract dispute. Gilmore Girls sputtered on for one tongue-tied final season, but Ms. Sherman-Palladino wasn’t there to execute the ending that she had planned down to the series’ last four words.
For ten years ago, Rory’s storyline and the ending to the series, down to the last four words, is simply perfect. Ending the series with those last four words is arguably a cliff hanger, but I also think it makes perfect sense and wraps up the series nicely… if it were to happen ten years ago; Rory’s story-line at age 32 is a little less believable at this point in time.
Let’s at least be relieved that the show handled Richard’s death well and gracefully, given the death of actor Edward Herrmann in 2014. The scene with Lorelai, Emily, and Rory in the back seat of the car going to the funeral just about broke me, and Emily’s story line had the most emotional weight and credibility. I bought her downward spiral and was elated to see her claw her way back to a life she wanted.
Like Lake Wobegon or Mayberry, Stars Hollow is snow globe town; an idyll where everything is low stakes. Townspeople argue, but mostly over things like an international food fair or a proposed sewer system. They have decent, not overly demanding jobs, of both the blue collar and white variety. Young adults who fail to launch in their careers and life can come home to their parents’ cozy houses (a running joke in one episode). Stars Hollow is not just a safety net, it’s a giant, fluffy feather bed.
This is an eternal fantasy, but it’s well timed for the Thanksgiving weekend and fast approaching holiday season. Gilmore Girls represents an ideal in many ways, but we still need to believe in a plausible ending — or continued existence — for Lorelai and Rory. If you can forget most of the seventh season and treat this season as the authentic and true ending to the series, then A Year in the Life remains (mostly) believable and enjoyable.