From the slow-burning first episode of the new series which embodied the nostalgic element of Gilmore Girls, it would be accurate to describe this episode as representative of the speed of the show. Showrunner Amy Sherman-Palladino has a lot to say, and a lot of Gilmore Girls history to get through, so we barely get a chance to breathe before the next plot point is introduced. From excruciatingly silent Mother-Daughter therapy sessions and secret London rendezvous; to hurried cameos (Jackson the Veg Man and Tristan from the Gilmore Girls Universe, as well as references to Sherman-Palladino’s past show, Bunheads) and throwbacks (basket-bidding, Paul Anka dreams, and Kirk films); and to unwieldy curveballs (Lorelai may have written the world’s most spiteful letter, which is never brought up again). Can I get anyone a coffee to keep up?
The hurry in this episode is no-doubt due to the long shadow left by the death of Richard Gilmore (Edward Herrmann). Everyone is older and they can feel it, leaving all the characters to flounder. The Inn is stagnating without Sookie or growth, leaving Lorelai (Lauren Graham) to fear the departure of her other dear friend, Michel (Yanic Truesdale). Taylor Doosey (Michael Winters), long-time lover of Stars Hollow, is feeling the inadequacies of his life, even if that is just Stars Hollow’s inability to pull big-name stars. Notably, Rory’s (Alexis Bledel) career has stagnated, and despite the several opportunities she is given, she passively fails her way through all of them. She is a far-cry from the Rory of Chilton, bright-eyed and eager, and yet she is all the better for it. The only character who isn’t feeling the antsiness is the lovable and secure Luke Danes (Scott Patterson), but even he is spiraling over his fear of change in his relationship with Lorelai.
For the audience, this can feel stressful. These aren’t the nostalgic and content Gilmore Girls of old we’re watching, but characters who have changed over the eight years of non-syndication. With remakes and revivals of old culture we have loved becoming all too common nowadays, many have wondered if it is worth it bringing shows back if certain ideals are smashed. Rory is no longer a wunderkind heading off on an internship to Obama’s press committee, but a rootless passionless freelancer. For those overachieving perfectionists who see themselves in Rory, it is hard to watch her become a millennial stereotype. However, I don’t think it’s a bad thing that Rory isn’t achieving her goals, because it just shows another level to her character, who was originally too perfect and now has flaws.
It is Paris Gellar that shows Rory’s dilemma better, though, and that is due to Liza Weil’s sheer brilliance. Despite the short amount of time onscreen, she still maintains a powerful presence on the plot. Her life is falling to pieces from divorce, and it only takes a brief sight of her teenage crush, Tristan (formally Chad Michael Murray) to send her over the edge, barricading the toilet with her foot and declaring her briefcase, a symbol of her power, as empty. She, like Rory, has not reached her goal in adulthood (either to rule the world like Stalin or not care what other people think, it is not entirely clear). We’ve always known that Paris’s anger was a defence mechanism, but to watch her yell zingers whilst in the midst of a breakdown is what we all love about the show. It’s further proof that comedy makes Gilmore Girls. Sure, the drama is great, but the weird and wacky is what revives us.
Ultimately, this episode has flaws. Sherman-Palladino has placed the viewer on a conveyor belt through the history of the show, trying to fit in too many references to the past, when all we really just want to experience is the show for what it was. No matter the slightly unrealistic desire for no conflict, the message of this episode is strongly received. There are big changes ahead for the Gilmore Girls.
Gilmore Girls: A Year In the Life is available to watch right now on Netflix. If you haven’t got round to it yet, check out our writers’ favourite episodes so far, the best Rory and Lorelai moments, and how to prepare for your revival binge-watch.