Just finished watching the four episodes of Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, and I feel the need to rant.
SPOILERS AHEAD!!! Don’t say you haven’t been warned.
Okay, first of all…there is a lot to love in the revival. Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel are in top form as Lorelai and Rory, and the supporting cast seems to have slipped back into their old roles quite comfortably. (Particularly Liza Weil as Paris Gellar, who steals every single scene she’s in. I wish she had been featured more prominently in the series.) And Kelly Bishop was, as always, pitch-perfect as Emily Gilmore. Because of the real-life death of Edward Herrmann (who played patriarch Richard Gilmore), Bishop was given a meatier and more complex storyline than she ever had in the original series. The scenes between Graham and Bishop were the best in the revival–and yes, I’d even say, better than the original series. They had me both laughing and crying multiple times. If either Graham or Bishop don’t pick up an Emmy nod for their roles, I will be very disappointed.
But then there was Rory. What the hell happened to Rory Gilmore?
Before I go on, let me caveat this with some of my own personal biases. I am around the same age as Rory. I, too, was the nerdy, ambitious girl with awkward social skills. I also loathe the stereotype that millennials just can’t get their shit together because they were awarded too many participation trophies growing up. Every time I hear it, I grind my teeth–and then remind myself that Paul Lynde was singing that he didn’t know what was wrong with these “kids today” back in 1963, so obviously this suspicion of “youngsters” isn’t a new phenomenon.
In 2000, Rory Gilmore was introduced to us as a hard-working, intelligent, driven 16-year-old beginning her time at a competitive private school. She later becomes valedictorian of her class. She gets accepted to both Harvard and Yale, but chooses Yale because it’s closer to home. Then after graduation, she gets offered a job as a reporter embedded with Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.
Fast forward to 2016. Rory is adrift. She’s doing freelance work in the journalism industry, but she cannot find a more stable position in the industry–or even manage to find regular freelance work, for that matter. She tries several things, including writing a biography of an erratic British feminist and taking over as editor for the Stars Hollow Gazette (for NO salary!) before deciding that her calling in life is to write a memoir of her and Lorelai’s life.
Sadly, her personal life is in even worse shape. She’s dating a guy named Paul, who is so unmemorable that she literally cannot remember to break up with him. She’s also having an affair with her ex-boyfriend, Logan, who is engaged to a French socialite.
Now, it’s not like Rory hasn’t stumbled in both her personal and professional life before. Once upon a time, she cheated on her first love, Dean, with bad boy, Jess. Then Jess left town, and she lost her virginity to Dean–who was married to someone else by that time. On the professional front, a bad performance review during an internship causes her to steal a boat, get arrested, and drop out of Yale. Talk about an overreaction!
That said, while she was losing her virginity to married guys and stealing boats, she was in her late teens and early 20s. I think most of us did some stupid things when we were that age.
But young Rory was, for the most part, exceptionally mature and driven. Thirtysomething Rory seems to be anything but.
And this is my main complaint: I think Amy Sherman-Palladino got it wrong. The trajectory Rory took just doesn’t seem to make sense, given everything we know about her.
Rory has spent almost a decade working in the ultra-competitive, ever-changing journalism industry. She’s been published in several prestigious publications, but she can’t manage to get freelance work? She goes to an interview with a Buzzfeed-esque website, but she doesn’t even have one pitch ready? I was never convinced that journalism was the right path for Rory. But after nine years, she wouldn’t have stopped and said, “Maybe this isn’t working out for me. Is there something else I can try instead?” Rory was intelligent and driven and, oh, by the way, pretty much the epitome of class privilege. But she hasn’t been able to figure out something better than groveling to write articles on spec about waiting in line?
I can be a little more sympathetic to her ongoing affair with Logan. Who wouldn’t want someone who makes them feel good and still treats them like they’re at their best, when Rory feels anything but. What I don’t understand is how the child of a single mother who got impregnated as a teenager would, apparently, forget to be on birth control. (Could she not afford her Obamacare premium?) Not to mention the fact that she and Logan are both sleeping with other people,* so wouldn’t you be worried about STDs? Honestly, Logan always seemed like he’d be a petri dish of venereal bacteria to me.
*I am assuming Logan is the father of Rory’s baby because, both timing-wise and story-wise, he makes a hell of a lot more sense than Paul the forgettable boyfriend or the unnamed Wookie.
As any good Gilmore fan knows, the last four words are the four words, the very ones Amy Sherman-Palladino planned from the very beginning of the series. And I get what Sherman-Palladino was trying to do. Everything comes full circle. When the series started, Lorelai was a single mom without the involvement of the baby’s father, and now Rory’s facing the same fate. Lorelai and Rory have parallel stories.
Except Lorelai and Rory, for all their closeness, were never the same. Lorelai was the flighty wild child, while Rory was more grounded and serious. Lorelai was endlessly talkative, while Rory was quieter. Lorelai blew off school, while Rory was always studying. Lorelai got pregnant at 16, while Rory didn’t get pregnant until 32–not a teen pregnancy by any stretch.
But by 32, Lorelai was raising a teenage daughter entirely on her own. She was the manager of a successful bed and breakfast, and on her way to owning her own business. Meanwhile, at 32, Rory can’t even manage to find her own underwear.
I just don’t buy it.