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Review: ‘Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life’

Gabrielle Carroll ‘17 / Emertainment Monthly TV Staff Writer

At long last, the revival of the beloved television show Gilmore Girls was released on Netflix this past Friday. Instead of a season of episodes, the girls return to us in the form of episodic seasons: “Winter,” “Spring,” “Summer,” and “Fall.” Each episode is more Gilmore than the last. The quips, pop culture references, and “copper boom” speed-talking is ever present. But the substance of the original series is lacking in ways that leave true Gilmore fans a little disappointed.

The revival’s problematic factors stem from the fact that it picks up ten years after we left the characters, but nothing significant has happened in that time, aside from the death of Richard Gilmore (RIP, actor Edward Herrmann). The first installment, “Winter,” starts out rough, but the rhythm of the show eventually pulls the audience into its familiar world. The characters seem to not have changed much, if at all. With a ten-year gap, this is problematic. Over the course of all four episodes, they seem to be in a time warp, continuing the same conflicts over and over. Rory Gilmore (Alexis Bledel) is secretly seeing Logan Huntzberger (who, surprise, has a fiancee). Lorelai Gilmore (Lauren Graham) and Luke Danes (Scott Patterson) are drifting apart as a result of keeping things from each other. Emily Gilmore (Kelly Bishop) is picking fights with Lorelai, and Lorelai is picking back. It’s as if the characters have learned nothing from their past experiences.

The most enjoyable and compelling storyline is, by far, Emily Gilmore’s. After the death of her husband, Richard, Emily goes on a journey to figure out who she is without him. She is the only character who really participates in any form of reflection that changes them in a meaningful way. She burns bridges and turns tables in classic Emily Gilmore style. Not many housewives go from D.A.R. meetings to giving tours around a whaling museum, but of course, Emily does—and she has views empathizing with her the whole way there.

Lauren Graham and Kelly Bishop in Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. Photo Credit: Netflix
Lauren Graham and Kelly Bishop in Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. Photo Credit: Netflix

Lorelai Gilmore deals with the same old conflicts. She fights with Emily. She fights with Danes. She’s overly controlling at the inn of which is she owner. She even fights with her daughter, Rory. The whole time the audience is left wondering why. The only short term progress she makes is seeing a therapist briefly, something she probably should have done long ago given the trauma of being a teen mom without parental support. Her ridiculous attempt at a Wild-inspired trip may have helped her come to terms with her father’s death, but her conclusion about Danes should have been reached ten years ago.

Rory Gilmore’s arc had the potential for major growth, but as usual, she resisted. She makes the same mistake she made with Dean Forester—sleeping with a person who is taken—again with Huntzberger. She continues the trend of arrogance in her career, first established when she didn’t receive her “guaranteed” New York Times fellowship. Stumbling around the journalism community, Rory finds herself unable to get a steady paying job, or really, the steady paying job she wants. She reaches for the top at Conde Nast and other large publications, ignoring a position at a promising start-up that could give her experience and a paycheck. In her mind, she’s better than that, but in reality, Rory isn’t. She finally agrees to an interview, but is turned away based on her lack of preparedness for it. Instead of taking responsibility for her terrible interview and learning from the experience, she withdraws into her ego, deciding to write a book about her life. It’s a reversion, to say the least.

A good percentage of the revival felt like filler: Kirk’s “ööber” subplot, the Stars Hollow Musical, the Life and Death Brigade, the Wild trip . . . it was entertaining, witty, and fun, but the plots felt forced. Fans finally got to see how the creator of the show, Amy Sherman-Palladino, originally imagined its ending. But this was a revival, not a recreation of seasons past. It makes sense that the last two episodes were better than the first two; those contained less filler and more of the original show’s intended plots. The revival’s four-word ending would have made sense in the context of the show’s final season, but ten years later? Not so much. The focus on those mysterious last four words prevented the revival from telling meaningful stories about beloved characters. They didn’t have to be at the end. They should have been the beginning.

Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life is Currently Streaming on Netflix

Overall Grade: C+

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