Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life always had some large shoes to fill. The bar was high, and the nostalgia was potent. The universe established by seven seasons has garnered a feverishly devoted fandom which expected nothing less than magic from creator Amy Sherman-Palladino and the Gilmore Girls reboot.
Ultimately, the show didn’t deliver magic so much as it delivered a sobering reality check.
While A Year In The Life is a familiar and heady concoction, its characters no longer feel timely or relevant. With Emily Gilmore’s so-casual-it’s-meant-to-be-charming racism, and Lorelai and Rory’s unabashed self-centeredness, it’s become increasingly clear that the show which once went down smooth gets caught in our throats when placed in the modern television landscape.
That’s not to say that the show does not deliver a welcome dose of Stars Hollow charm alongside its well-worn and comfortable characters. Like a magic trick, the series repeatedly allows old characters to crop up and reveal details of their new lives, filling in the gaps since the show’s cancellation and appealing to the fan-fic nature of the whole conceit. While it’s a tried-and-true formula, it’s effective nonetheless.
Despite the somewhat disappointing results of A Year In The Life, the show did manage to create some nagging questions that are still floating around in my subconscious:
Did Rory ever find her underwear?
One of the verbal refrains in A Year In The Life is Rory bemoaning the fact that she can’t find her lucky outfit and that all of her possessions are scattered around Connecticut in various boxes. She even semi-drunkenly laments this fact to a perplexed Jess, telling him that she doesn’t have any underwear (HONEY, JUST BUY SOME). Despite the incessant complaining, we never actually find out if Rory gets all of her clothing back.
An no, this doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of the show — but it does support my theory that both Gilmore Girls run through their possessions like spoiled toddlers.
Was Rory seriously dating Forgettable Paul for multiple years?
While the running gag about Paul’s utterly forgettable personality was (vaguely) amusing, it also teetered on the verge of absurdity. Is it believable to have a forgettable suitor of a few months? Sure. A few years, however? This just makes me concerned for Rory’s mental health. Did she get concussed or something? Is the Rory Gilmore we know and love really so self-absorbed that she’s in a “relationship” with someone she can’t even remember? I’m not totally sure, but it feels like the writers were too lazy to create a new, fully-formed character for Paul, and settled instead for making him a two-dimensional punchline.
What ever happened to Zack and Lane’s hopes and dreams?
The more you think about this one, the more depressing it becomes. Lane’s impressive musical prowess was always one of the show’s shining beacons of girl-power light, considering the fact that she taught herself how to play the drums after hours (in the dark) at the local music shop. Lane always dreamed of becoming a rock musician, and, for a while, Hep Alien gave both herself and her random paramour, Zack, that very opportunity. But then, the whole band storyline took a backseat to the standard Marriage Plot — i.e., Lane and Zack got married, for some mysterious reason (sex?), and promptly became pregnant. This was basically the end of their story arc. The whole thing seemed like either a cruel plot device, or a way-too-real commentary on what actually happens when you pursue your loftier goals.
In A Year In The Life, I was sincerely hoping that perhaps the show would offer some sort of retribution for Zack and Lane’s frustrating ending. It didn’t.
How much money did Lorelai waste on her Wild (the book) trip?
Sitting down and wondering about the economics of Gilmore-land is probably a fruitless endeavor (as mentioned above), but it’s impossible to ignore the fact that Lorelai drove cross-country, stayed in numerous motels, and purchased an impressive amount of hiking equipment in order to hike the Pacific Crest Trail — which she never actually does. It really sort of puts her criticism of Logan’s spending habits into perspective, doesn’t it?
Do Paris and Doyle ever reconcile?
Paris and Doyle were just bizarre enough to make perfect and total sense. They were just insane enough to be in sync. And yet, Doyle’s hyper-meta transformation into an L.A. screenwriter seems to have torn the two asunder. But, if I know Paris and Doyle, I have a sneaking feeling that these two aren’t quite finished yet.
Did Rory ever finish her piece about waiting in line?
I mean, no, I didn’t really care about reading it, but if she didn’t complete it then I’m pretty sure she just had sex with a Wookiee for nothing.
Does Luke’s Diner even have WiFi?
Luke keeps trolling his laptop-savvy customers with fake WiFi passwords, but does a real WiFi password even exist in Luke’s Diner? I have a hard time believing that Luke would willingly install anything that would modernize his establishment in any way — let alone a feature which would actually encourage customers to stay longer.
Why did they force Rory to be the “other woman” yet again?
Fair warning: in the original Gilmore Girls days, I was a staunch believer in the redemption of Logan Huntzberger. Despite his playboy tendencies, he seemed to genuinely be able to set aside his wild ways for Rory, and ended up actually pursuing long-term commitment by asking her to marry him. In the reboot, however, Logan and Rory’s relationship has somehow evolved into a toxic one, and I have difficulty believing that either of these characters would willingly enter into a “no strings attached,” adulterous relationship with their former partner. Rory’s already tried that with Dean, and it obviously didn’t work out so well. In the original series finale, Logan was unable to forgive Rory’s rejection of his proposal, saying that he didn’t want to “move backward” in their relationship. Why, then, would either of them agree to this regressive Trans-Atlantic tryst?
How much did Melissa McCarthy get paid for her five minutes of screen time?
It must have been one kabillion dollars or some completely untenable rate, because WOW, NOT NEARLY ENOUGH SOOKIE HERE, YOU GUYS.
Was that Life and Death Brigade thing a dream sequence, or did it actually happen?
As I watched this scene, I was perpetually convinced that this steampunk nightmare was going to end with Rory waking up suddenly, thereby ending my second-hand embarrassment. And then, somehow … that never happened.
It’s almost always a shame when a formerly solid show decides to insert an unnecessary musical sequence into the storyline. This was no exception.
So … what’s next?
A Year In the Life could have easily been one long session of fan-service, fanning the flames of viewers’ nostalgia and giving us the opportunity to wander through Stars Hollow yet again. To its credit, the show tempered those impulses, and forced us to deal with the possibility of character growth in new and occasionally frightening directions — culminating in the shocking reveal of Rory’s pregnancy.
Now we’re left with even more questions than we had before. Namely: is Logan actually the dad, and, if so, will he be an analog for Rory’s own dad, Christopher? Is Jess finally going to make his full circle transformation into Luke? Are you allowed to drop the bomb of a main character’s pregnancy without the promise of future episodes, or does such a maneuver banish you to TV Prison?
Now that Rory is pregnant, it seems like the show could actually have newfound legs, as well as a compelling new story. That is, if the pregnancy reveal hadn’t been shoved to the end of the reboot like an infuriatingly explosive footnote.
Does this mean we’re getting more episodes? Or are we just meant to sit around and muse about how fitting it is that the show is repeating its own grand tradition of single motherhood? While I doubt Netflix can resist the lure of another fan-based cash-grab, Amy Sherman-Palladino is a tougher egg to crack, and has essentially only said “maybe” to the possibility of future episodes.
But, one thing is still certain: where Amy leads, we will (probably) follow.