In Which Rory Gilmore Contemplates A Voyage Into The Known

Yale Was Not A Good Choice

by ETHAN PETERSON

Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life
creators Daniel Palladino and Amy Sherman-Palladino
Netflix

That last season of Gilmore Girls, when Amy Sherman-Palladino was no longer working on the show, was quite depressing. Nothing, however, could be as sad as the condition these women find themselves in when Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life begins. Lorelai was the brightest light in a cute but sometimes grim New England town. Now she looks completely bored by the place she selected to raise her daughter so long ago. Even the most mediocre people seek appropriately-sized challenges for themselves, but Lorelai doesn’t want kids, or a new job, or anything more from her boyfriend than to lie next to her as she watches the Hallmark Channel. An inspirational mother and hotelier has given up.

Things are even worse for Rory Gilmore. She has not found one man of any persistent intelligence. It is far more believable that Rory would be stuck in an endless loop, given that the only male figure she had to look up to during her childhood was barely ever there at all. Her relationships with men conform to the only way of interacting she knows: babbling endlessly to her mother. Some men like a woman who talks a lot, but most do not like to be talked to like the girl’s mother.

Rory’s Yale boyfriend Logan was always a problematic and underwritten character. His wealthy father made a point of putting Rory down, and she weirdly accepted this determination. Somehow, it seemed to enhance her view of the man’s son. Logan lives in London, and when Rory is there she stays in his apartment. He promises not to discuss the other women he is schtupping, and she is cautious about prying too much in his drawers and closets. When we learn he is not really serious about Rory, it is expected and reflects even more poorly on her judgment.

Emily, the girls’ mother and grandmother, is the only one who time has altered at all. The role played by Edward Herrmann of Lorelai’s awful, distant father was one of the best characters on the show. It seems strange to eulogize his passing given that he was pretty much a monster to Lorelai and nothing like the loving father he should have been. We witness a long funeral scene with sweeping music, and various other lawyers talking about what an irreverent piece of shit Richard was. In the wake of the death, Emily lives in a massive house with an entire Portuguese family who has presumed on her grief.

Minority characters are always completely subservient to the white ones in Palladino-Sherman’s writing, and Rory’s friend Lane never got half the scenes she deserved during the run of the original show. She has had two children with her husband, but we never even get to learn the names of the boys or speculate on the kind of relationship Rory might have with them. Kids have changed everyone I know, but they don’t seem to alter Lane or Rory’s other friend Paris, who ironically runs a fertility clinic.

Everyone on Gilmore Girls look none the worse for wear, until you probe deeper. Lauren Graham in particular is still a vibrant and beautiful woman; even though Luke still has a certain mercurial charm, it feels like she has not completely found the right man. Alexis Bledel enters middle age even more self-possessed; it seems a mystery that she cannot find a man who complements her. They really should have cast her real-life husband on this joint, and maybe they still will.

One running joke has Rory ignoring a boy with no self-respect, who believes he is dating her and getting to know her family, named Paul. It is cruel in the way that jokes on Gilmore Girls always were. One character would make fun of another, and this seemingly offhand jibe would represent some deeper unhappiness, and the immensity of the problem would balloon when you least expected it. Sherman-Palladino excelled at writing scenes like this, which ostensibly started as one thing but because something completely different through the flow of his signature patter.

We are supposed to believe that Rory has seen some of the world: the parts that her mother was never able to. At one point, Rory romanticizes a vagabond life, and we realize how much she needs this valuable perspective, a journey that would allow her to see what kind of man she could love who would love her back. Instead by the end of Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, she is tied down exactly like her mother. God this show made me want to cry.

Ethan Peterson is the reviews editor of This Recording.


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