Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life.

I wrote a few months ago about my excitement and general love for Gilmore Girls. The original series was a part of my childhood, as I’d always watch reruns on ABC Family with my mom and sister. It taught me the importance of mother daughter relationships, whether it was with your own mother or a chosen one. I learned how friendships between girls shouldn’t be torn apart because of ambition or boys and the necessary addition of coffee to any diet. This show has its flaws, that I will freely admit. There were jealous boyfriends with fragile masculinity, a few too many subtle gay jokes, characters will flaws and insecurities, just to name a few.

I had a lot of expectations for the revival, something I desperately wanted to avoid. But I finally finished A Year In the Life last night and I have so many mixed feelings. There were so many moments that I loved and many moments that seemed so true to the characters and story. But I ultimately felt disappointed by the revival, in large part because I had gone into the show with expectations that weren’t met.

The episodes felt incredibly different from the original series but that mostly seemed to be the timing of the show. The revival was four 90 minute episodes, each spanning a few months. Even with the fast talking known of the show, this aspect made it different from the original. There were also down moments in the revival, with characters standing still while talking when they would have been doing something and moving around in the original. Also, I could have easily done without the ‘Berta’ storyline, as it felt really weird in ways I just can’t name.

To be honest, my favorite episodes were the ones written and directed by Amy Sherman-Palladino herself. These episodes, especially Fall, felt the most true to the characters and stories. (The Life and Death Bridge scenes in Fall were by far my favorite parts of the entire revival.) Even Emily’s dramatic departure from her life after Richard’s death seemed appropriate. Throughout her episodes, Sherman-Palladino managed to find that balance between the nostalgia of the original series and being firmly rooted in the present.

It was amazing to see so many of the characters come back in their own ways, all of which seemed incredibly true to their characters. Of all the minor characters, the return of Jess and Paris were by far my favorite. Paris continues to be ambitious and intense, her best moments coming from her anger and breakdowns. It could have been very easy for her to become a villain in the show, as pinning two ambitious girls against each other is a very easy narrative, but instead, she became a friend and encouragement for Rory. And Jess, while a troubled youth with his own problems in the original series, grew into a thoughtful and responsible guy.

There’s been a lot of contention about Rory in this revival, as she seems like an unlikable character with no regard to how she treats the people around her. She’s the side chick again, cheating with an engaged man. She keeps forgetting about her boyfriend, to the point where she keeps she has to repeatedly remind herself to break up with him but ultimately forgets until he does so first in a text. And while she says she’ll respect her mom’s decision on the book, it’s clear that she’ll probably write the book regardless because it’s what she believes she needs to do.

But I’d argue that Rory hasn’t really changed since the original series. She’s ambitious and does whatever she wants, regardless of the outcomes and potential consequences. In the original series, she sleeps with Dean while he’s still married under the guise that he’s still her guy and then runs off to Europe with her grandmother when Lorelai challenges her on it. Margaret Lyons wrote about the terrible attributes of both Lorelai and Rory a few years ago, writing in particular that:

Rory’s worst attribute, other than her slouchy posture, is her lack of impulse control. She misses Lorelai’s college graduation because she had to go into the city to see Jess. She steals a yacht. She sleeps with Dean. She kisses Jess. Rory’s strongest motivator is want — if she wants to do it, she does. Her wants always win. … She wants to drop out of college? Boom. If she wants to avoid a problem or a conversation, she does — why confront the consequences of your actions when you can just go to Europe and pretend you’re not a mistress?

That attribute is still strong in Rory in the revival. And because of it, she’s never really able to let go of the men in her life. Like with Dean, she continues to sleep with and be around Logan, long after she knows he’s engaged and living with his fiancée. She was jealous and possessive of Jess during the original series, when she was still with Dean but the two of them had kissed. Rory, more than anything else, seems to have this intense desire to have something that’s not hers. And on the rare occasion that people would call her out on that (or any of her other flaws), her world crumbles.

Throughout the entire revival, I kept thinking about the unlikable female characters that exist across mediums. In all their wit, coffee, and obscure pop culture references, Lorelai and Rory are far from the most unlikable characters in existence but they do have unlikable characteristics. They’re both flawed, a bit selfish, and stubborn but all of that is what makes them full characters.

Once finished with the revival and hearing those last four words, my first reaction was disappointment but the more I thought about it, the more it all made sense. And honestly, I don’t think there should be any more. As Emily Yahr writes, “the best way to kill the magic of the show is to overexpose it.” Like many I’m sure, there are so many questions that I have about where the lives of the Gilmore Girls will go. But I desperately want for the show to not get overexposed and I know that the ending is where Sherman-Palladino wanted the characters to end up.