Major spoilers ahead. If you haven’t watched the "Gilmore Girls" revival yet and want to remain in the dark about what happens, stop reading now.
About 15 minutes after I finished watching all four episodes of "Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life," I saw a friend had simply commented "What?!?!?!" along with a photo of the TV show. This was my response:
Loved every hot mess minute of it, but I'm with you, "what?"
And what a lovely hot mess the revival was. It was perfect simply because it existed, but it was not without its faults. Still, I got to spend time with characters I care deeply about and got to know them better. I laughed. I cried. I cringed. I smiled. I rewound. I ate. I sang. I picked my jaw up off the floor. I re-watched.
The show ended in a way that I never saw coming, but I should have. I've re-watched the original seven seasons enough times that I shouldn't have been floored by the last exchange between Lorelai and Rory.
Rory: I'm pregnant.
Lorelai looks aghast and then we go right to the ending credits.
And that's it. With no promise of any more episodes coming our way, we are left with the news that Rory is going to be a single mother like her mother had been. Lorelai's main life's goal — since the age of 16 when the strip turned pink and she stopped being a child — was to set her daughter up to have the life she never had. Rory, however, ends up following in Lorelai's footsteps... sort of.
Consider this: Amy Sherman-Palladino, the creator of "Gilmore Girls," always knew what those last four words of the series would be. She also anticipated that the series would end when Rory graduated from college, and it did, but Sherman-Palladino was not around for the last season due to contract issues with the show's studio, Warner Bros.
Fans waited nearly a decade to hear those last four words, and that decade makes a difference in the impact those four words have. While my initial reaction to Rory's impending single motherhood may have been "What?" her pregnancy at age 32 certainly does not pack the same punch to the gut as it would have had at age 22.
The girls come full circle
In the very first episode of "Gilmore Girls," we are introduced to the Gilmore girls — all three of them. There's Lorelai and Rory, of course, but there is also Lorelai's mother Emily. Lorelai left home at 17 to live life on her own terms with her 1-year-old daughter in tow. In the 15 or so years in between then and the events in the pilot episode, Lorelai and her parents have had a very strained relationship. Still, there's a subtle scene in the episode that makes it clear that Lorelai and her mother have more in common than they realize.
Did you see it? Lorelai and Emily throw back the champagne in their glasses exactly alike. It's quick, but I don't think the parallel is a coincidence.
The end of the first episode blatantly spells out the parallel between Lorelai and Rory, as the two of them sit in Luke's Diner, drinking coffee and eating chili fries, and Luke tries to stop Rory from copying her mother's eating habits.
Luke: Rory, please put down the cup of coffee. You do not want to grow up to be like your mom.
Rory: Sorry. Too late.
If Sherman-Palladino really did know that she would be ending the series with Rory's pregnancy, that scene takes on a different meaning. When Rory was 16, she was fated to be a single mother some day, just like her mom. Only that fate was supposed to happen in her early 20s, not her early 30s.
Rory, who we know had a trust fund that was set to kick in at age 25 (and whose grandfather recently passed away and surely left her money in his will), is not at all in the same position Lorelai was in when she became pregnant. Sure, she talked about being broke, but it's hard to believe there wasn't money coming from somewhere; she certainly flew back and forth to England frequently.
Aside from having an established (albeit momentarily faltering) freelance writing career that has her restless, she has the support of her mother and her grandmother. And, unless the father is the Wookiee she had a one-night stand with, the other probable fathers — Logan or Paul — would certainly step up financially.
While Rory's pregnancy is momentarily shocking, the question left on everyone's mind is not, "How will she be able to provide for a child?" Rather, the question is "Who's the father?"
Lorelai and Luke finally tie the knot
Are you wondering where it was in the revival that I sang? It was during the perfect, magical Lorelai and Luke secret, middle-of-the-night wedding.
Look up foreshadowing in the dictionary, and you may just find this photo. It took 14 years, but these two finally got married. (Photo: Gilmore Girls Facebook page)
Ever since they stood together under the wedding chuppah that Luke made for Lorelai's marriage to Max early in season two (a wedding that never happened), there was no doubt these two were end game. The "will they or won't they" went on for four seasons until they danced to the song "Reflecting Light" at Luke's sister's wedding, and then it was clear they would. I sang every word of that waltz-y song by Sam Phillips (the same musician who does all the series' signature la-las) that was used again when Lorelai and Luke snuck into the town square, perfectly decorated by Kirk for their wedding the next day.
Fourteen years after they first started dating, they finally made it official, as it was always meant to be. I love that there was no real threat of the two of them breaking up during the revival. Luke was concerned that Lorelai's restlessness meant she was going to leave him, but I don't think we, as the audience, were ever supposed to be concerned about that. There was enough that came between them during the original run — Max, Christopher, Rachel, Nicole, Lorelai's parents, Luke's daughter April, their difficulty communicating — that we didn't need break-up angst during this revival.
Emily strays from her circle
If there was one true surprise that was never foreshadowed, it's Emily Gilmore's transformation. Feeling lost and restless after her husband Richard dies — something that was not planned for in the original series but was made a necessity in the revival due to Edward Herrmann's death two years ago — she finally sees how frivolous so much of her society life was. After declaring her formerly beloved Daughters of the American Revolution to be "bullshit," she sells the mansion, moves to Nantucket, taking with her a maid that's she's been able to keep for an entire year along with, seemingly, the maid's entire family, and gets a job in at a whaling museum.
If there was ever anything that foreshadowed of that, please let me know.
I do have to believe, though, that the influence of Lorelai and even more so Rory over the past 14 years helped Emily slowly realize that life is more than etiquette and tea parties (even if those tea parties are often fundraisers).
You'll notice that I used the word "restless" to describe all three Gilmore girls in the revival, and it's the thread that weaves their journeys together throughout this one year in their lives. Each has her own restless issues. By the end Lorelai and Emily have resolved theirs, while we are left wondering how Rory's will resolve, particularly with the newfound information that she is pregnant.
Of course, the revival brought almost all of Stars Hollow's beloved, quirky character's together again. Some of their short storylines were sweet; some a little sour. But, I was happy to catch up with them all. Here are just a few moments to point out from all four episodes.
What made me smile
- Kirk's smile when he read Lorelai's "It's Perfect" text.
- Jess's longing look at Rory through the window toward the end. I do not need Rory to end up with a man, but I do like the idea of her being with Jess because they are right for each other.
- Dean living a happy life.
- The return of the Life and Death Brigade. Yes, the steampunk sequence was a bit over the top, but that's what the secret group is all about. Rory saying goodbye to Robert, Colin and Finn like they're the Lion, Scarecrow and Tin Man — it was just right.
- The way the camera pans around Luke's truck as the song "Reflecting Light" plays, Lorelai and Rory sitting in the truck bed, as they drive into the center of town. It mirrors the way the camera panned around Lorelai and Luke dancing to the song the first time. It was so well done, it gave me chills.
- Lauren Graham's real-life boyfriend Peter Krause showing up as the park ranger who does not succumb to her charms no matter how hard she tries.
What made me think, 'This is a hot mess'
- Kirk feeding his pig with a baby bottle while reading Lorelai's "It's Perfect" text.
- "I slept with a Wookiee."
- The entire Stars Hollow Musical. It's the only part I think should be taken out and the time used more wisely.
- Rory calling Mitchum Huntzberger "nice."
- Stars Hollow's 30-something group (and their parents).
- Paul. I have no idea what purpose he served except to make Rory look awful and everyone else simply seem stupid.
- April. The character was a little tough to take as a young teen. As a young adult, she's incredibly tough to take.
- The celebrity chefs Lorelai kept firing at the pop-up restaurant at the Dragonfly Inn — Roy Choi and Rachel Ray actually make appearances. It's also mentioned that Anthony Bourdain, April Bloomfield, Ina Garten and David Chang have all apparently made a go of it in the kitchen, all to be fired by Lorelai. Yes, the show is known for its pop culture references, but this was just too much for me. These people would not be doing pop-ups at a small country inn for weeks at a time.
What left me with questions
- Will Paris and Doyle really divorce? I thought for sure they would reconcile by the end. I really want them to reconcile.
- What happened to Lucy and Olivia? I know they were not Sherman-Palladino's creations so maybe she had no desire to write for them, but I'd have liked a passing mention.
- Did someone really write an awful letter to Emily on her birthday one year? Emily is so adamant at the therapy session that Lorelai wrote it and Lorelai swears she didn't, but then we never hear anything else about it.
- Was that really supposed to be Tristan at Chilton, or did he just look enough like him to freak Paris out? I know it wasn't the original actor, but if it was really supposed to be Tristan, shouldn't we have gotten a scene with him after the bathroom freak out?
- Why hasn't Hep Alien gone further with their music career?
- Where has Mr. Kim been all these years? If he was really around, why didn't we at least see him at Lane and Zack's wedding?
I could go on and on about specific small details, but I'll simply leave it at this. "Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life" is a satisfying continuation of the show I have loved dearly for so many years. Was every note pitch perfect? No, but I was perfectly happy watching almost all of the off-key parts (musical excluded).
Many people are wondering if there might be more episodes, and The Hollywood Reporter asked Sherman-Palladino. She said that the shows "specific journey" has been fulfilled in her mind. If there is more to come, "it has to go out to the universe now."
If the universe says yes, I'm in.