‘A Year in the Life’ of a Script Falling Short
I was so excited to finally reunite with the Gilmore gals, but Palladino’s reboot (and the famous four-word ending) left me confused and let down.
By Lindsey Davis, Iowa State University
WARNING: Contains spoilers.
Before audiences had the chance to experience the town of Stars Hollow, Amy Sherman-Palladino, the creator and genius behind “Gilmore Girls,” knew exactly how she wanted the series to end, even down to the final four words.
Yet, she and her writer-director husband Daniel Palladino chose to leave the show before its final season back in 2006. This decision left the conclusion of the television hit in hands other than the Palladinos’. For ten years, the creator of “Gilmore Girls” didn’t get a chance to fulfill her entire vision, but with the Netflix revival, “Gilmore Girls: A Year In the Life,” fans of the show can finally experience the ending Sherman-Palladino had in mind since the beginning.
Although I planned to watch the four-part series right after it came out early Black Friday morning so no one could spoil the show for me, celebrating Thanksgiving with my family ended up becoming my priority. Grudgingly, I waited the entire weekend before binge-watching all four episodes back-to-back Monday night. I’ve now had nearly 24 hours to process my feelings on the “Gilmore Girls” rebirth, and I feel let down.
The series begins in winter, as each episode follows one of the four seasons. The opening credits are accompanied by a black screen and voiceovers from the original “Gilmore Girls,” which gives off nostalgic sensations. Then, color and scenery floods the screen. Snow adorns the town center of Stars Hollow and people stroll by the various quaint stores. The camera pans over to a couple touching heads in front of the infamous gazebo, and when they move apart, you see Lorelai Gilmore, mother to Rory, sitting on the gazebo steps with a big smile on her face. If I could identify the best part of the episode, this would be it. All the feels. I missed the Gilmore girls.
The opening scene builds up a false hope for the rest of the winter episode. If you asked me to rate each episode on a scale of one to four, one being the best and four being the worst, the first episode deserves a four. The peak of the 90-minute chapter happens within the first minute when Lorelai and Rory, now “rootless” and travelling all over the place, meet up in the town square and begin chatting in their legendary fast-paced style. I almost wish the creators had built up the tension and excitement of their reunion a bit more. Then Kirk, an eccentric townsperson, enters the scene, and throughout the entirety of the episode he plays a much larger role than I expected. He was everywhere, which seemed off to me since he is just a supporting character.
I also wish Luke, the owner of Luke’s Diner and Lorelai’s partner, would have been introduced better as well, though maybe this is because I’m biased and love Luke. Viewers reunite with the lovable, cranky, flannel-clad figure in the kitchen of Lorelai’s house. Why didn’t we meet him in the diner where he spends all his time? It would have been neat to relate the scene back to the very first episode of “Gilmore Girls” in 2000 when Lorelai begs Luke for more coffee even though she’s already had five cups. I understand the need to illustrate where the characters are at in their lives 10 years later, but the introduction of Luke needed improvement.
The most frustrating parts of the whole chapter are the unnecessary plot holes. For example, Rory is in Stars Hollow one minute and then in London the next. This back and forth happens often and with no forewarning. Rory also has a boyfriend named Paul that we meet briefly and then never appears again; why? Logan, Rory’s college lover, now lives in London and is engaged to an heiress, but lets Rory stay over whenever she’s in town. It’s irritating to know they can’t be together, but still a large portion of the first episode is Rory flying to and from London visiting him. False hope, people, false hope.
Overall, the winter chapter didn’t have a whole lot happen. Maybe Sherman-Palladino simply wanted to reintroduce viewers to the characters and Stars Hollow, but the episode fell short.
Then comes the spring episode, which was better than its predecessor, but still not satisfactory. Lorelai and Emily, the Gilmore matriarch, are in therapy trying to sort out their tense relationship. Rachel Ray makes a guest appearance to cook at the Dragonfly Inn because Sookie is on sabbatical. Mae Whitman, Lauren Graham’s (Lorelai) television daughter on “Parenthood,” also has a cameo. All these random details seem to have no focus and are haphazardly thrown in the episode. Oh, and what’s with Lorelai and Rory being in New York for a large portion of it? Come on, fans only have limited time with “Gilmore Girls: A Year In the Life,” give them more Stars Hollow!
Now for the summer episode. Can someone PLEASE tell me what is with the musical? Stars Hollow decides to put one on, so the middle part of the chapter spends at least ten minutes showcasing a two-person musical with characters who have never appeared on the show before. It made absolutely no sense to me. Once the musical scene was over, nothing more ever came up about it. Was Sherman-Palladino trying to kill time? What was the point? Oh wait, there wasn’t one.
Other than the suffering I endured from the singing and dancing, I did enjoy that Rory took over the “Stars Hollow Gazette” as editor. Jess, another old lover of Rory, also made his appearance. Swoon. After meeting Rory at the “Gazette,” he encourages her to write a book, specifically one about her and Lorelai’s relationship. This detail I did greatly appreciate.
In the fourth and final episode, “Fall,” Lorelai decides to go on the trip that author Cheryl Strayed documented. Though it doesn’t turn out how she planned, she finds what she needs—the heart to mend her relationship with Emily. After returning to Stars Hollow, she asks Luke to marry her. If the whole series ended without a marriage, would it have even been a good show? Though predictable, this portion was necessary.
Sookie and Dean both make appearances in the final episode, which warmed my heart and made me feel a little bit better about my unmet expectations. And then comes the final scene. The final four words. Everything I had looked forward to in the series.
Rory: “I’m pregnant.”
My mouth dropped open, and my heart honestly skipped a beat. I should have expected it, but, still, I felt extremely confused and immediately thought of all sorts of questions. Who’s the father? How’s she going to raise the baby? Will she remain in Stars Hollow?
“Gilmore Girls: A Year In the Life” fell short of my hopes and dreams. I didn’t like the cramming-in of details deemed unfit for nostalgic viewers, and I didn’t like the ending. I wanted to have concrete evidence of who Rory ends up with in life, not the biggest cliffhanger in television history.
All I am left to say is there needs to be more episodes. Thanks in advance, Palladinos.