BY JENNIFER TEDDER
I grew up watching Gilmore Girls with my mom. The show started when we (Rory and I) were sixteen, and it went until we graduated college. We shared so many major milestones: starting a new school; graduating high school; starting college; romantic firsts; alcoholic firsts; the painful, necessary separating of the tightknit mother-daughter bonds, the list goes on. My mom cried buckets when the show ended.
Needless to say, we were excited to hear that Gilmore Girls was returning; we wanted to see Star’s Hollow, Luke’s Diner, the grandparents. My mom wanted to see how Luke and Lorelai were doing after all this time. I wanted to see how Rory was doing with her 32nd year, though I fully expected her to still be winning at our shared life.
We didn’t waste time wanting the 4 new episodes to be good—we assumed that was a given.
We were horribly mistaken.
What happened, Palladinos? What did you do with those well-crafted, lovable characters who had believable motivations and storylines that made sense?! I have so many questions.
1. What’s wrong with Lorelai?
Lorelai made quite a few decisions in GG:AYL, and maybe one of them made sense. The rest? Not so much. Lorelai deciding she wants a baby at the age of 48 in Winter? That was a strange way to waste time. Lorelai deciding she’s going to hike the Pacific Northwest Trail in Summer? See my reaction to her wanting a baby.
The common theme to these bizarre decisions is her uncertainty about her relationship with Luke, but this uncertainty is never given believable roots and so the “fruit” it bears is rotten. When Lorelai returns toward the end of Winter, fully re-committed to Luke, the reunion feels like a cheap ploy. I never understood why they fell out, and their period of separation felt ridiculous, so there wasn’t an emotional payoff when they resolved it. And then the musical montage around the wedding venue ruined the rest of the episode for me.
2. What’s wrong with Rory?
Rory is a floundering 32 year old who is making questionable decisions in GG: AYL, and I’m fine with that. It’s okay for the girl to be directionless after so many years of being perfect. What I’m not fine with is the lack of direction with her storyline. She’s a fictional character, someone should have a clue, but it wasn’t the Palladinos.
In the first two episodes, Rory’s doing okay. She’s had a successful article published, she has another project in the works. She’s zipping back and forth between continents with indiscernible reasons and financial resources. I’m pretty sure she returned to New York City for a dinner date with her boyfriend in one episode. It’s very strange and disjointed, and it’s not good, but it’s okay.
Things start to head downhill in episode 3. She moves home to Stars Hollow and takes up being a jerk. She fat shames people at the pool, she mocks senior citizens for their lack of computer knowledge, she hates on the other 30-somethings who’ve returned to the nest. What on earth, Palladinos?
In episode 4, she’s starting to get it together. She’s dumped her engaged boyfriend and gotten an idea for a book from an ex-boyfriend. (So this actually is interesting: apparently every time you have an idea for a book, the book fairy deposits enough money in your bank account to make one month’s rent and the security deposit. Or maybe Rory is delusional to be looking for apartments in the NYC boroughs, one of the two.)
Then she backslides. She reunites with the engaged ex-boyfriend and engages in the most bizarre musical montage yet. At one point she even steals from Doosey’s market. Then she sleeps with the engaged ex again, breaks up with the whole group of their friends Wizard of Oz-style, and goes back to Stars Hollow.
3. What was wrong with Lorelai and Rory?
I was mostly fine with the depiction of Lorelai and Rory’s relationship, but I had a few minor quibbles:
Winter: What has Rory been so busy with that she hasn’t seen Lorelai in a year? Is it the one article she’s gotten published? The two boyfriends? I’m confused.
Summer (the beginning): Why are Lorelai and Rory acting like monsters at the pool? This is strange. They’re fat-shaming (is this to get back at Sookie for ditching them?), slut-shaming, any kind of shaming they can manage. They have small boys holding parasols over their heads and calling them Khaleesi–what is going on, Palladinos?
Summer (the end): Why are they fighting?! What is Lorelai talking about when she claims to have worked too hard to present a certain image of herself to people to let Rory write a book about their life? Lorelai has always been proud of the fact she was a teen mom who worked her way up. Listen Lorelai, your floundering daughter has finally found a lifeline, let her have it. With her track record, it’ll never see the light of day anyway.
4. What was wrong with Emily Gilmore?
The relationship of the three Gilmore women should have been the backbone of the entire four episodes. Instead, Emily pops up in disjointed segments and mostly looks crazy doing it. She has a wall-sized portrait of Richard painted by accident. Since when is Emily Gilmore anything but precise? She lets a family of immigrants move in with her. This is clearly a reaction to loneliness in a post-Richard life, but it feels vaguely icky, like they’re taking advantage of her, or maybe she’s taking advantage of them. And also, Lorelai and Rory should be filling that void.
I don’t think I have enough information about Emily’s maybe-boyfriend to fill a paragraph. He seemed nice. I don’t remember his name. I don’t know why she started dating him in Spring, and I don’t know why she bundled him off so gleefully and took up whale-harpooning-reenactments at the end of Summer. As with much of GG: AYL, it’s all very strange.
Emily’s therapist is similarly mysterious. I don’t know why Emily stopped going to her. I don’t know why the therapist then popped up in Stars Hollow, desperate to be in a musical. I don’t know why we didn’t see more of Lorelai’s interactions with this therapist. (It seems like that would have been an ideal time to build up this case for her and Luke really being at odds.) Basically, I don’t know why this therapist existed, or why she stopped existing. It’s all very strange.
Surprisingly, I’m fine with the very end of GG: AYL (like the last five minutes, not the last act in general). That would’ve been a great last five minutes if the first 355 minutes had been halfway decent.
On its own, it’s still promising.
I hope that one day the Palladinos live up to that promise.