Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life

This is a very difficult review to write. I don’t want to spoil anything for those who haven’t yet seen or finished the season, but there’s so much to talk about.

When Netflix announced they were collaborating with the original brainchildren behind Gilmore Girls (Amy Sherman-Palladino and Dan Palladino) to create a 4-part series entitled A Year In The Life,  I wasn’t exactly thrilled. Revivals and sequels tend to be a bit blah and can put a bitter spin on what was once a fan favourite. But at the same time, I was so excited to see where it would lead.

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For the people who have never seen Gilmore Girls, it centres around three generations of bold, independent women and the men who flit through their lives. GG aired in the 00s and the mother-daughter relationship depicted between Lorelai and Rory has never been touched by any other TV drama. The complexities of their strained relationship with grandparents Richard and Emily is something that has never quite been emulated either.

The things I was most apprehensive about were how the writers would work with the death of Edward Herman, Richard Gilmore, and the flourishing careers of many of the original cast. For example, Melissa McCarthy has taken off since the series ended and I figured that, with her busy schedule, they’d struggle to write her in with the back story that Sookie deserves.

The show was finally launched on 25th November, split into the four parts and aptly named after each season.

Within seconds, the viewer is plummeted into the fast-talking world of the Gilmore Girls. The writing style picks up where season 6 left off (we don’t talk about the travesty that is season 7), like being wrapped in a warm blanket that smells like Pop Tarts and Watermelon Lipsmackers – which was how I always imagined the Gilmore house was scented.

Of course, the cast are 10 years older and it honestly threw me for a few minutes. Having binge watched the entire 7 seasons in preparation for this, hearing Lorelai’s deeper voice and Emily’s frail frame confused me. The lack of the towering presence of Edward Herman was also deeply saddening, especially as Richard’s death is the catalyst for the entire series. He was always the teddy bear protector and conflicted anti-villain (is that even a term?) whom I never thought the show could do without.

It started with Winter, the smell of snow and a 30-something Rory returning from a meeting in London. Lorelai and Luke are happy together, but she feels like something is missing in her life. Rory is between jobs and struggling with her floundering career as well as the sense of failure that comes with her lack of success. Whilst Emily, having lost her husband, is an emotional mess and is trying to find a new reason for living.

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With Spring, each character is questioning their motives and decisions that have led them to the crossroad. Lorelai is trying to make sense of her life, trying to make things fit. Rory is sinking further and further into denial, ignoring the problems right in front of her face. Emily loses her sense of self and becomes more withdrawn in her loneliness.

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Summer is arguably the weakest of the seasons. Lorelai goes on an emotional adventure, Rory tries to take control but only makes things worse and Emily makes some changes.

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Fall ends the year on several high notes and one incredibly annoying cliff hanger.

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The character development was not all it could have been.

For all intents and purposes, Lorelai is still very much a sassy smart-mouth, with a proclivity for coffee and rants, but there is no real change in her. As the saying goes, people don’t change and I don’t agree with that. 10 years is a long time and I had expected more from how she was written. Her relationship with Luke is something that I can understand. When you’re two independent people, it can feel like you’re living two separate lives but it’s how you bring it together that matters and this season captured that for me with Summer.

Rory, for once, I did not 100% dislike. It was more a 70-30 hate/love. Now she has matured into her intelligence and the writers have stopped making life easy on her, she’s more of a likeable character. She still makes horrible choices and its painfully clear that despite the big blue eyes and sweetness, Rory is not a perfect person.You can dress up her naivety all you like, but she is spoiled and self-absorbed. Nothing has changed in that regard. Her ending was just further proof that she is her mother’s daughter and I was very disappointed in it.

As a teenager when the show originally aired, I didn’t quite understand Emily. She was written as the big, bad snob who only wants to control her family. Later, re-watching the series, I can now see that she was a scared woman who was trying to cling on to her wayward daughter in the only ways she knew how. Her character arc in this series is definitively the best. Her grief and pain were written and channelled beautifully, her ending was one of the happiest TV moments I’ve  ever witnessed.

For the most part, the series was true to the lives you expect the Gilmore Girls to lead – with a few exceptions. Without giving anything away, we see a mini Life and Death Brigade reunion and it’s absolutely ridiculous. The original LaDB were dramatic at best, but this particular scene was overindulgent and unnecessary. Having never been a fan of that specific storyline in the first place, it really annoyed me to have it dredged up when these people are now adults in their early thirties who should know better than that. Any concept of outgrowing their childishness evaporated with that scene.

There is also a Lorelai storyline that I can see the point of it, it has merit, but it doesn’t fit with her character at all. Which is meant to be why she does what she does. I can’t get behind it. There could have been a better way than to do it.

As for the supporting cast, I was pretty impressed. Lane has done what I always expected, and actually secretly wanted, in taking over her mother’s antique shop. She is still married to Zach and playing in the band with Brian and Gil (who hasn’t aged a bit, it’s bizarre). Taylor is still, well, Taylor except a little bit more campy. Michel has finally been outed and has a relatable story arc that I think most people have gone through. Sookie is in the season for all of 5 minutes and I was so disappointed. We have a brief Dean (smh) cameo in which he now has the perfect small town life. Paris’ life is gutting as she was one of my favourite characters. There’s Logan and that’s all I’m saying on that subject. And Jess who has outgrown his crybaby, emotionally stunted ways and become a mini-Luke (which is not necessarily a bad thing).

The series ends of a major cliff hanger that I saw coming from the beginning of Winter and honestly, it really pissed me off. I love when series and films end on a high note but the storyline can only go one way. We know enough about the Gilmores to know whats going to happen (or at least I have an excellent idea) and its obvious that there will be a second season. Which is great for us fans, but if the next season isn’t done amazingly well, it will ruin the franchise and I just can’t deal with that.

That being said, Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life was a solid sequel. I hadn’t realised how much I’d missed Stars Hollow and my fave, Babette. But it wasn’t all it could have been.

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