You can't bring a cult classic as big as Gilmore Girls back without stirring the pot a little. And after the four episode mini-series aired on Netflix last Friday, boy were there opinions.
When everyone returned to the office this week - and I mean everyone, from the tech sites to the lifestyle writers to the advertising team to management - Gilmore Girls was the main topic of conversation. So I asked everyone a simple question: tell me what you thought of the mini-series.
Understandably, there will be spoilers. So if you haven't seen the mini-series yet, or haven't finished watching, come back when you have! Otherwise, it's time to break down what the hell is going on in Lorelei and Rory's life, and those fated, final four words.
Tiffany Roma, Allure Campaign Manager
Gilmore Girls to me isn’t just a TV series. It’s a whole world that replicates my own, or maybe, I replicate it. It has raised me and showed me what normal really is – ironically. The old box set DVD’s used to have a little hand out filled with all the references they’ve made in that episode and we would go and my sister and I would look each of them up. This revival was something I really needed because I wanted to hear Amy Sherman-Palladino’s voice again.
When she wrote the dialogue, the sum was more than its parts. We understood the characters because of the references they made and the way they reacted. Every part was plotted and every word counted for something. That is where we got the pace from and that was what made Gilmore Girls different. I needed that clever mind that knew each character as much as I did to show me where the Gilmore Girls ended up.
So perhaps I hyped this way too much, but I was really conflicted about how I was going to watch this. My original plan was to watch it all in one go, but after the first episode, I couldn’t overwhelm myself like that. I needed time to process, soak it all in and digest what happened. Consequently I have only seen 2 out of 4 episodes.
In a word, the revival so far has been comforting. The amount of people who showed up was amazing. Notable mentions were Bootsy, Cesar, Trubador guy and Gil! Francie & Tristan were also nice surprises. I think the flick back to the original writers has made all the difference in the dialogue and pace. Now that we are older, I understand more of the references – which is very nice. I love how dynamic and complex each of the characters have become - they each have a fuller back story - but Emily and Michel in particular have really surprised me. The first episode did a good job of giving us an overview of the current situation in Stars Hollow. Lorelai’s life is as dramatic as ever and Rory is exactly where I thought she would be.
I needed to see Rory falling back on Logan because this is what she always does. She goes back to her old boyfriends and it’s always OK, no matter the moral dilemmas, because she feels this ownership or entitlement to the people she has history with. There’s always that one person who just knows her when she doesn’t know herself and she always falls back on that.
I’m excited to finish the series as the first two episode have been a little slow, so I have high hopes for the next two. I still have so much I want to know, I need Amy’s answers.
Jessica Arrowsmith, POPSUGAR Beauty Editor
It was quite an emotional watch for me as it brought back so many years of fond memories and an attachment to a cast who’ve stayed with us over the past decade. It was so special to have the entire cast return (sans Grandpa) and come together again for one of the most special television reunions ever.
Although so much was answered and it felt as though a void was filled, there was definitely no closure and lots of unanswered questions. Which I like: it means there’s room for more to come. Which is a hope (I think) every [Gilmore Girls] fan needs in their lives after such a special revival.
Also, how amazing that the entire cast came back for it? I think it speaks volumes for the family bond they created on set and is relatable to the audience as it reflects a similar love to our own families – no time has passed, although it well and truly has.
Alex Walker, Kotaku editor
I'm including a headshot of Liza Weil, otherwise known as Paris, because I wanted to acknowledge her efforts through the first three episodes.
Thank God for Paris.
If TV has taught anyone anything, it's that you need to have a strong opening. The Gilmore Girls Revival was anything but that. Beyond the opening scene, which was full of nostalgic long shots, speedy repartee from Lorelei and Rory and the occasional breaking of the fourth wall, the first episode was a painful exercise in extravagance.
Until Paris arrived, cutting through with her description of army wives as breeders, slamming toilet doors with stilettos or breaking high schoolers to the point of tears. She was brilliant, but also likeable - something she never fully achieved in the original series.
I haven't watched through all of the original GG episodes yet; by the time A Year in the Life landed, I was hovering somewhere in the fourth season. By that stage, there were already moments where Lorelei was difficult to watch, because she dovetailed from being a reminder of the strength and force of nature that was my own mother to becoming a completely unlikeable human through her excessive and unnecessary hostility towards Emily and Richard.
In the original series, Emily was by far and away my favourite. Fortunately, her character remains untarnished. Her arc centres on dealing with the grief of his loss, but for the most part she remains a source of humour, wisdom and clarity that the Netflix revival badly requires.
Especially when it comes to Rory, who seems to have no direction or moral clarity.
I hadn't expected to come out of the mini-series disliking her as much as I do. She seems to have learnt so little, despite years of her mother instilling from the closest possible distance as many life lessons as possible.
The arc of recovering from an unsuccessful career as a freelancer writer/journalist is fine, even if it results in a lot of scenes that waste time and introduce characters who seem to serve no other purpose but to provide Rory a lesson in alcoholism. It's the intersection with Logan, the discovery that Rory finds she was meant to write a book chiefly about the life of the Gilmore Girls ... and then she ends up pregnant, bringing the series full circle.
I don't subscribe to the view that the Gilmore Girls are terrible people - but Rory, in the four part mini-series, provides plenty of ammo for the argument.
That aside, the final episode offered plenty of closure and channelled the spirit of the originals enough to save the mini-series. While the first three episodes were painfully self-indulgent, the horrific rehearsal of the Stars Hollow musical the worst offender, the writing, charm and wit improved by the end to offer the closure and comfort that Gilmore Girls is famous for.
Lorelei and Luke, after the former half-indulges in a Wild fantasy, finally get the closure the original series couldn't provide. The fractures in Lorelei and Emily's relationship, after some meandering sessions with a therapist that end up going nowhere, have begun to heal. Emily resumes her role as the proud matriarch, even restarting the weekly dinners (to an extent) with Luke and Lorelei by offering to buy out the neighbours across the street.
But the questions left open remain on Rory. Why, after berating Paris in Yale for her inappropriate relationship with a professor, did she have an affair with a married man - and then continue to do so with Logan? While having a boyfriend of her own (who she kept forgetting, and then forgetting to dump) ?
If another series continues, it will be with Rory: what happens to her child, the influence of a still interested Jess, the remnants or possible revival of her writing career. That much is obvious.
But Rory because has come out of the mini-series so unlikeable, making so many questionable decisions, seemingly losing all of the empathy she displayed while growing up in Stars Hollow, I'm not sure I'd want to watch. Especially if every episode is going to be an hour and a half long.
Tegan Jones, Kotaku/Gizmodo/Lifehacker Commercial Editor
I have always felt like I grew up with the Gilmore Girls.
Over the past 16 years the show has been my safety blanket – perfect to rewatch during times of stress, heartache or even just to have on in the background, the familiarity a constant source of comfort.
Being the product of a single mother, an estranged father and having a penchant for reading and obscure pop culture references – I always saw so much of myself in Rory. I loved my mother fiercely and desperately wanted to make something of myself through education and writing.
Unsurprisingly, I had been hyped up for the revival since it was initially announced. After mainlining it over the weekend, I’m not so sure how I feel. Rory had always been my moral compass, even when both she and I occasionally failed. But this adult incarnation is not at all what I expected or hoped she would be. She hadn’t seemed to learn her lesson when it came to forming attachments to unavailable men (which no one seemed to have a problem with?) and despite all of her talent and promise, she was struggling through life as a freelancer.
Wasn’t she capable of more? It was all too familiar.
But perhaps that’s the point. Rory isn’t perfect. The show was firmly making fun 30-Something Club of Stars Hollow, but Rory may just be a stronger embodiment of them, and our generation, than many of us fans realised.
And perhaps there’s more Lorelai in her than even she thought. Her abandonment issues, which have only ever been lightly touched on in the show, finally seem to be catching up with her. And it seems to be manifesting itself through both her career and relationships. She chooses both men and jobs that don’t require a solid, permanent commitment. She is a freelancer with a part time boyfriend that she always forgets and an engaged lover. As disappointed as I am, upon reflection I think perhaps this makes sense: her character feels more real and rounded, and her less than idyllic upbringing seems to be finally having an impact.
I found myself far more drawn to Lorelai, who also feels life catching up to her in the wake of her father’s death. It may have taken roughly 45 years, but she finally seem to grow up. Unsurprisingly, Emily remains my favourite Gilmore Girl of all. Although none of us many know what it was like for Lorelai to grow up with her impossible standards, I have always loved her.
Seeing Emily go through a full circle of grief and come out the other side as her own person was a delight. As was her getting to say the DAR was bullshit a whole lot.
All in all I think these stories were worth being told – thought I don’t think they needed to be 90 minute episodes. There was prominent drag and scenes that could have easily been shorter. The worst was definitely the musical: I absolutely get that Amy Sherman-Palladino adores Sutton Foster (who was the lead in her follow up to Gilmore Girls, Bunheads) but this was self-indulgent to the extreme.
I genuinely hope we get another Netflix bankrolled season, particularly after how this one ended, but I hope that it packs a punch in both storylines and pacing.
Amanda Yeo, Kotaku/Lifehacker/Gizmodo Early Morning Editor
I do not have the time to recount, in detail, all the ways that Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life failed both us as a society and me as a person who likes to believe that people are generally good. It would be like shining a blacklight in a foam party and trying to document every stain before the last train leaves. What I will do however, is recount them to the best of my ability, and stop when I feel like my aneurysm is imminent enough that I should lie down.
Gilmore Girls was about the relationship between Lorelai and Rory, yes, but it was also about Lorelai giving Rory every opportunity she could, of Rory having ambitions and the fortitude to work toward them, of Rory getting into a prestigious school on her own merit then graduating from Yale and going out to set the world on fire as a hard hitting journalist, making a life for herself even better than her one in Stars Hollow. Instead, she is forced back to the small town, defeated, forever a big fish in a tiny pond unable to compete in the world despite all her education and drive.
Further than that, 32-year-old Yale graduate Rory is established as an unsuccessful freelance writer, who wrote one piece for the New Yorker and tries to ride it for the better part of a year. We get a glimpse of it when Luke puts the piece on the back of his menus at Luke’s Diner – it is, at most, around 500 words. I wish to live in this magical world in which one can ride the goodwill of a 500-word freelance article for a year.
Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life brought forth those witty, fun characters that we remembered with nostalgia and fondness, blew away the foam and shone that blacklight on them so you could see the ugly reality. It was like going to your high school reunion and realising that all those cool kids that were so nice to you were actually massive jerks, but you were too close to it all to recognise it at the time.
Let me count just a small handful of the ways:
- Rory has a boyfriend of two years, Paul, that she cares so little about that she literally forgets him. Constantly. She forgets him so hard that she has to write down notes to herself to break up with him. And then she forgets those notes and never gets around to it, so he’s hanging on for almost the entire Year In The Life. It’s played off for quirky laughs, as opposed to the utter disregard for another person that it is, and it made me hate her. To have such little respect for your partner is disgusting.
- There’s a whole delightful scene where Lorelai and Rory make fun of fat people at the pool, because fat people should cover up and not burden these thin, attractive women with their physical presence I guess. Meanwhile, the targets of their repulsion are nothing but delightful toward our Gilmore girls. Were we supposed to like the Gilmores? Also, what’s with the children that the Gilmores have acting as their servants that is just never explained?
- The musical. At one point, Taylor (who doesn’t appear to have aged a day, bless him) decides that Stars Hollow: The Musical will be a terrific attraction to drum up tourism. What proceeds is the longest, most unnecessary subplot I have ever witnessed. There is a good maybe 15 minutes that is dedicated to simply showing the Musical — which is supposed to be bad, and at least succeeds in that regard.
- Rory and Logan’s relationship, which was basically "it’s not cheating because we say it isn’t", was abhorrent. Rory is in a relationship with Paul. Logan is engaged to Odette (who we never learn anything about in an effort to prevent us from hating our supposed heroine. Doesn’t quite work, though). Yet they meet up at every available opportunity to do the do and act as though they aren’t in committed (to a certain degree of commitment) relationships with other people. And it’s pretty clear that neither have discussed an open relationship with their partners, considering the pains they take to hide it. Is this supposed to be romantic, or admirable, or ... not reprehensible?
- Apparently money can solve everything, because when Rory is sad, Logan and friends show up and take her on a montage in which they break into Doose's Market, steal things and literally throw money about, then buy entire establishments and change them to their own whims. On impulse. Apparently this is charming, and not completely dismissive of everyone who is not them.
The Gilmore girls (as well as Logan and his friends) traipse through life with little to no regard for the feelings of others, always blameless, always, "I didn’t mean any harm, I didn’t realise." That’s just not good enough. It has been eight years, but the characters have remained stagnant.
Gilmore Girls should have remained in the past. Winter, spring, summer or fall, I would not follow where they lead. It would be like following a cat.
That's what we thought of the Gilmore Girls revival. What did you think? Let us know!