I have never loved a show like I love Gilmore Girls. The protagonists are flawed, for sure, but something about it feels like chicken soup and a bubble bath to me. The characters are complex, the clothes are fantastic, and the dialogue is quick and fun. Emily and Lorelei have such a complicated relationship and you can relate to them and their perspective so much. As I sit here watching A Year in the Life for the third time this weekend, I thought I would write down some thoughts. Obviously, spoilers ahead. Get out now if you haven’t watched it all.
Immediately, I had the biggest smile on my face. I love the meta talk between Rory and Lorelei, I love the pink coat (I went the the basement and found my old pink peacoat which is not nearly as cute as hers and threw it back into my own winter rotation). I was so happy to see Stars Hollow in winter, all decorated, and see the gorgeous lights while the town troubadour played by the gazebo. It genuinely felt like coming home again. I love that they kept Lorelei in boot cut pants too because no one has ever looked better in that silhouette. Seeing Amy Sherman-Palladino’s name flash on the screen was the cherry at the top of the joy sundae that the opening shots brought me.
All the notes were being hit: Luke in flannel, the girls eating garbage, Luke getting angry over nothing… I thought the Paul storyline was sort of funny, but also kind of sad. I felt bad for him, especially when we saw that Rory was cheating on him. Rory is probably the character that I most struggle with. She has so many opportunities and endless potential, and I get the story that is being told, particularly in these 4 episodes, that she is very much her mother’s daughter, but while Lorelei is immature and in some ways got stunted at 16, she is a hustler. Lorelei doesn’t shy away from taking risks and putting in hard work, but it feels like Rory rests too much on her entitlement. Paul is part of this. A sweet and dedicated and kind boy whom she can’t even remember exists? Is the point to reinforce how selfish and oblivious she is? Or just that no one will ever register for her like Logan? Either way, for me it makes it tough to root for Rory. I did like the tap dancing. That’s the kind of quirk I like from my Gilmore girls.
I like that way that Richard’s death has far reaching effects on everyone. Edward Herman’s presence was very missed for sure. The funeral scene was devastating. Luke’s wifi password was a fun storyline, as was the Kirk’s ooo-ber service. Again, these runners are the things that make Gilmore Girls the show that I love so much. The same comment goes for the sewer storyline. That’s so Taylor. The revolving chef storyline was silly, although I understand it was showing that Sookie was missed. I adore the lion dress that Lorelei was wearing in that Roy Choi scene. All of the clothes on Lorelei and Rory are so, so , so good. The Jeep being at Gypsy’s was a nice callback, and a great way to get Kirk to Friday night dinner. Luke and Emily- so much hugging! That was sweet but alarming each time. I thought the Berta storyline (that’s Gypsy!!) was possibly offensive in that it seemed that she was taking advantage of Emily, but also the relationship was good for Emily, helped her smudge that bottom line and realize who she was without Richard. So, I don’t know what my final thoughts are on that but I adore that camel pea coat on Rory so I will just focus on that instead.
Again, the funeral flashback was so heartbreaking. The giant painting was too (with Emily saying that she was a screw up). The music cues throughout were spot on and I love the Tom Waits song that plays here. “And they all pretend they’re Orphans/ And their memory’s like a train/ You can see it getting smaller as it pulls away/ And the things you can’t remember/ Tell the things you can’t forget that/ History puts a saint in every dream.” All the small touches like the picture from the re-marriage celebration and the Chuck Berry record, Digger at the funeral, Rory following Emily around… all perfection. Oh, and Emily’s little smile when Lorelei says she’s staying at the funeral. But then. Ugh. That story that Lorelei tells. Horrible. And the fight they have. Gutting. And again, I can fully see both women’s sides. Everything they all say is valid and true. Emily’s dressing down to Lorelei is SPOT ON, but you can also see how it would really hurt Lorelei, and then be the catalyst for so much that happens after. Lorelei realizes that so much of her and Luke’s lives have been predicated by her choices. It’s absolutely bizarre that they haven’t discussed children in 9 years. I love the confirmation that Michelle is gay and has a husband, but there is a troubling gay subplot at the town meeting that is totally tacky and true to the vibe of the original show, but it’s 2016 now and it seems tone deaf.
Paris! Oh how I love Paris! The Buffy line had me laughing out loud. Paris’ intense energy is one of my favorite things about Gilmore Girls. This job is perfect for her. I am so bummed about her and Doyle, though. Nice meta touch that he’s a screenwriter now, as he is genuinely a pretty famous screenwriter. Paris rocks some power heels throughout the episodes and I am loving it. Her clothes look so expensive, which is a perfect note.
Naomi stealing food is the exact type of thing that rubs me wrong. It’s that total privileged entitlement that Gilmore does so often. Again, I understand that Naomi is supposed to be nightmare, but this particular behavior I think we are supposed to find charming and I don’t. And then there’s Logan. This type of behavior from Rory is not even surprising anymore, and I think that this is really the crux of the story, after watching through fully. Rory has always been taken care of, by Lorelei and the world, but she has never had to really take care of anything or anyone. Logan wanted to marry her, and I feel like he still would, but Rory always keeps him at an arm’s length, just like Lorelei did with Luke. I really do see the parallels and get the story, but I still always want Rory to make better more empowered choices, like not cheating on her boyfriend or sleeping with someone else’s fiancee.
Lorelei is in and out of London like someone who is not financially struggling, right? That’s partly why those notes feel so forced. Everyone keeps offering to help her out so she’s never really struggling, and I never believe that she is. So she goes off to ride an ooo-ber with Kirk and Paris and Taylor has a great wifi rant, winning over Luke, and again, these are the right notes and they make me so happy, as does the random female troubadour and the OG (her brother) chasing her out of his town. Fun little joke about whose team Rory would be on (she and I are Team Paris always). It was nice to see that Lane and Zach have a house, and to see that the band is still together and the twins still exist (you never know if season 7 would have been just a fever dream). Zach looks… older than Sebastian Bach and we will leave it at that. Hep Alien sounds amazing, even if Paris could not look less impressed while they play. Also, I want the sparkly decal top Lorelei wears in the phone call with Rory in this scene.
And then Emily is in jeans and a Candies top! This was a scene that was in the trailer and it was funny there but in the actual episode it’s kind of sad. You can see how much Lorelei is struggling to help Emily and how difficult it is with their complex history. She gives her good advice about how she can’t really access joy right now and that it’s going to take time. So when she calls to say how thankful she is, and Lorelei seems so happy and flattered, it’s an amazing moment. Until you realize what she just agreed to. And then Dolly plays! Remember when Lorelei serenaded Luke in the highlight of season 7 with Dolly? Nice subtle callback. Dolly Parton and Gilmore Girls are 2 of my favorite things. And that’s Winter! Wasn’t it so good?
Spring begins quietly at the therapist’s office. When I saw Daniel’s name on the screen, I admit I groaned a bit. He has actually written some episodes that I love, “Bracebridge Dinner” anyone? But he tends to do excessive quirk in a way that rings false to me. After watching them all, I will say the most problematic bit of this is actually in Fall, an Amy episode. So, the elder Gilmore girls are in family therapy and having a rough go of it. They basically wait out the clock as we pan to a gorgeous outside scene.
And then we are back in Stars Hollow for a town event- an international food fair. Kirk and Taylor are running it, which is perfect, and Kirk says “dick”, which is shocking and hilarious. Again, the outfits on the girls, especially Rory, are envy inducing. Mrs. Kim is there, bossing around a choir, and Mr. Kim is there? What? That’s some Daniel foolishness for sure. Sandee of Sandee Says is played by Julia Golden Telles, who is Sasha on Bunheads, the show Amy made after Gilmore Girls (and the terrible Jezebel Jones) which starred Kelly Bishop (Emily Gilmore herself) and Sutton Foster, who appears here as Violet, the lead in Stars Hollow the Musical. The basket bidding is a funny callback, and the girl resembles Melissa McCarthy enough to call back to Jackson’s proposal in “A-Tisket, A-Tasket” but it’s also kind of one of those selfish things that Lorelei does, bidding on it at all, although it’s shown there is no competition.
I got bizarrely happy to see Mitchum Huntzberger, since I always felt he was totally right on how he read Rory. This is when we get the confirmation that Logan is cheating to be with Rory too, as well as that he’s actually engaged to Odette. Scumbags, both of them. Rory at least seems properly unnerved to see Mitchum and have him see her having a romantic lunch with Logan. It’s telling as well that Logan has brought Rory to a family restaurant. Was he hoping to be caught? Does he just not care? And then we are back at a town meeting. Miss Patty is no longer on the stage with Taylor, is is because she got so thin? She’s practically unrecognizable in the scene with Babette. This is the off-putting scene about “gays” wanting to march but there aren’t enough in Stars Hollow. Andrew wants a neighboring town to just lend them their gays and then Gypsy tries to get Taylor to out himself, even though it’s cannon that Gypsy was in love with Lorelei (in interviews since, see: Gilmore Guys). So, the whole scene made me feel icky. And then we are back to discussing the Dragonfly and the fact that it needs to modernize and grow (a storyline that plays out throughout the episodes). And we also hear about the Secret Bar, another thread that pays off later.
Luke is always so scared that Lorelei wants more from their life and that she’s going to leave. Again, this is a communication issue but it seems earned. The real Paul Anka dream sequence is very funny and another wonderful callback. And there is Rory, in a cute wrap dress playing house with Logan. The next therapy session, with the Trombone Stan story is so funny, and the way it’s shot is so reminiscent to the great scene in Season 6, “Friday Night’s Alright for Fighting”, when they are all at Friday night dinner and it plays like a Mamet play. This letter storyline, however, feels unfinished, and it bugs me.
Kirk’s second film isn’t nearly as funny as his first one. It’s nice to see Maury again. And then we’re back at the Inn, and there are the Gilmore Guys! Another chef cameo; I find them distracting and silly, to be honest. Lorelei’s outfit is great. I don’t know how any of them wear these heels but they look fantastic.
Everyone is at Emily’s. I actually am glad that Berta is there and Emily isn’t alone all the time. Speaking of Richard leaving Luke money, I would imagine that he also left Rory and Lorelei quite a bit. So, again, I’m not quite buying that Rory is in any genuine financial struggle or that she can’t buy more underwear. I was thrilled to see Paris and Rory back at Chilton with the Headmaster, and even happier to hear that she chipped in $100,000 to the improvement plan. And are we supposed to feel badly that Rory is offered a job teaching if she gets her Masters? Come on! That’s an opportunity many would love. He basically tells her she can teach anything and have a permanent and steady position. It’s funny but implausible that the therapist is driven to a cigarette break by Emily and Lorelei. Emily’s derision of Luke and Lorelei’s relationship, that without a wedding their union is like a roommate situation, is offensive and Lorelei is right to walk out, or attempt to do so.
Paris freaking out over (not) Tristan was silly and seemed out of character. 32 year old Paris is too good for that. She is successful and gorgeous and wearing amazing heels (again)! It was funny to see Francie again. She plays a very different character on Shameless so it was nice to see her with her red hair and snotty Poof-energy again. But she is right that Paris “rules the world”. Paris Geller forever and ever! Paris has always been one of the most pro-sex characters on the show so this was in character (what she says about Doyle) but man, do I miss them together. Just reunite, kids! You were the best couple on the show! I’m glad to see Rory offer to help them out with the kids since she’s crashing at their house.
Rory finally has her Conde Naste meeting (thanks, Mitchum) and is wearing another great dress in this scene. I think they do a good job of showing that she is feeling totally unmoored in these episodes. It’s completely rude of Emily to quit therapy without telling Claudia or Lorelei. That’s old Emily right there. “I don’t need to pay someone to not agree with me.” Sigh. But I like that it allows Lorelei to explore some of her own issues. Emily and Luke looking at franchise locations is again old, terrible Emily. It’s almost nice to see her acting like her old self, but it’s also overbearing and horrifying. Luke and Lorelei are still lying to each other, did they learn nothing from the April situation? But again, these are things that make Stars Hollow feel like Stars Hollow and these characters feel like old friends.
Now a cameo I loved: Jason Mantzoukas! For Gilmore Guys fans, you know that Zouks is a huge fan of Gilmore from back in the day so he must have been so happy that this opportunity presented itself! And Rory is off the book, moving on to a spec piece for GQ. I loved that the tap dancing returned as well. The girls look beyond perfect in New York and this is a super fun bit, featuring a nice cameo by Mae Whitman, who played Lauren Graham’s daughter on Parenthood, and I like the bit about Lorelei basically living a charmed existence. Would Rory really sit on the ground in that fancy skirt? Well, no matter, I think the more important take away is that she falls asleep. Again, this is not a girl who really dedicates herself to her craft. They are staying in the fanciest hotel in Manhattan that I have ever seen! Rory has a one night stand, again to show that she is sort of flailing and searching for something. It’s sort of an odd character beat and I guess is to have Sandee call her a loser later, and continue forcing Rory to feel trapped and foolish. I guess narratively that tracks. I like that Lorelei lets Rory know that her relationship with Logan is definitely worse than sleeping with the Wookie, and I guess she’s too old to get a full lecture like she did when she slept with Dean, but Rory is really not invested in the sanctity of marriage, is she?
Sasha! I mean Sandee (see what I did there) takes Rory on a tour of the weird online site that has been courting her. Rory comes so unprepared, again, expecting things to just be handed to her. She can’t sell herself because she has nothing to sell. She just thinks she deserves things for being her. I agree with Sandee that it’s “a little weird” that Rory has come with no information about the site or her own talents. Rory does not handle rejection well in this scene which is surprising, since she usually holds it together better. And then she throws out $900 worth of phones because what is money anyway? And she’s moving back home!
OK… as I’m about to hit 3000 words, I’ll finish Summer and Fall later. Did you love the reboot as much as I did? What are your thoughts?