I started watching Gilmore Girls when the show premiered back in 2000. My dad and I tuned in each week, both obsessed with the pace of the show and the strong female leads, and we watched every episode together until I moved away for school in 2004 (we debriefed every week by phone after that). So when I heard the show was finally getting the Amy Sherman-Palladino-approved ending it deserved, I was ecstatic. Those last two seasons were a slog, and I was dying to know about the final four words.
After binge-watching all four episodes of Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life the day after Thanksgiving, though, I can honestly say the revival broke my heart.
Look, I know it must have been hard for Amy to cram great story lines for every character into four super-sized episodes, and I get that drama makes the best TV, but here’s why I finished the show upset:
None of the strong women I once loved on Gilmore Girls got the feminist or self-actualized endings they deserved, and that stung.
Let me explain.
Let’s start with Lorelai.
When we pick up with her she’s in a roommate-y relationship with Luke, living together but not really sharing a life (they were never particularly good at that). They don’t seem to have the tight bond you’d expect from a couple so ~meant to be~ and they’re still withholding important life information from each other (Lorelai lies to Luke about continuing therapy without her mother, and Luke retaliates by not telling Lorelai that he knows about her therapy because he’d spent a day looking at possible new locations for Luke’s Diner with Emily Gilmore).
In therapy, Lorelai talks about her challenging relationship with her mother (excellent) but can’t seem to dig into what keeps her and Luke so isolated from one another. At one point she says, “We’re happy. He’s happy. Luke and I are happy,” but the words ring hollow.
By the end of “Fall,” Luke and Lorelai get married in dizzying Stars Hollow fashion — in the middle of the night in a fantasy musical sequence. But aside from Lorelai’s Wild-inspired hiking journey to the California coast, and the moment of clarity it brought, our “power” couple never sort out their issues in a real way. They simply get married to bandage over their lack of a real connection, hoping that the on-paper commitment will lead to something similar IRL.
I found myself hoping desperately that Lorelai was following her intuition when she married Luke — like she did when she broke up with Rory’s teacher, Max Medina — instead of ignoring it, like she did when she married Christopher in Paris. But on some level I knew it was the latter, that she’d bought into the fairytale and is now tied to man who was never supposed to be her love interest in the first place.
Lorelai and Luke just don’t feel like they are in a fulfilling partnership and my heart breaks for Lorelai’s not so happy ending.
And how about our beloved Lane Kim!
While you might not agree with me about Luke and Lorelai, I know you’re pissed about the way Lane’s life turned out. I’m confident when I say that 0% of GG fans were happy when Lane married Zack and immediately got pregnant with twins, and I know I wasn’t the only one who hoped they’d be divorced in A Year in the Life with Lane living as a Lorelai Gilmore-esque single mother.
It’s not that Zack is a terrible, awful, no-good human being. He’s fine, I guess. But Lane was such a spirited, talented badass and she deserved a life lived on her own terms, not one defined by bad sex and a grouchy husband. I kept hoping throughout A Year in the Life that Lane might send Zack on his merry way by the end of “Fall” and sweep her boys off to California for a little adventure and rock ‘n roll. Oh, and that she’d somehow manage to find Dave Rygalski and they’d have a feminist, music-making love affair. A girl can dream.
Things aren’t great for Michel or Paris, either.
Paris may be a successful doctor/lawyer, but she’s become the parents she hated: Floundering in a marriage that’s disintegrating, with no time for — or interest in — her children. While I don’t doubt that having kids and two demanding careers — not to mention living in an absurdly steep New York City apartment — would be tough on a relationship, I always believed in Paris and Doyle’s connection. They were direct but effective communicators, did bonding activities together (hello, Krav Maga!), and they made time and space for each other’s dreams. What happened to those two?
And OMG the fact that Michel finally got a love life on the show, only to be roped into having a baby he doesn’t want! Does no one on Gilmore Girls get a say in their own lives? Is there no justice? Something’s gotta give!
And then…there’s Rory.
Where to even begin with sweet, smart, feisty Rory Gilmore. First of all, her bizarre and forgettable boyfriend Paul seems like an unnecessary side story, but more than that, it made me dislike Rory. Why can’t she seem to remember the poor guy? He seems like a very nice and decent person, if a little dull. Ugh.
What got me even more, though, was her affair with Logan. Not only was she repeating her Dean pattern, but this time around it didn’t even seem to weigh on her conscience — nor on his. They were both like, welp, we’re doing this — Vegas, baby! Not cute, you guys.
And her career? Shambles. This previously competent, confident, skilled journalist — who famously turned down the world’s greatest crème brulée to cover a breaking news story while head of the Yale Daily News — can now barely sell a single story, not to mention the fact that she’s a patently terrible reporter. She winds up the unpaid editor of the Stars Hollow Gazette, with no place of her own to live, and blows the only real interview she gets because she arrives over-confident and under-prepared. Not exactly the feminist icon who chose her career over her boyfriend at the end of Season 7.
At the end of the revival we learn that Rory is pregnant, a fate that seems to befall even the most child-resistant of our heroes (remember when Sookie wanted to stop having children after Davey and Martha but Jackson lied about getting a vasectomy and — whoopsie! — they ended up having another baby? Oy).
As Dame magazine writer Ma’Chell Duma points out,
It’s true that we don’t know if Rory will end up having her baby — and BTW, is it Logan’s? Is it the Wookiee’s? — it’s probably safe to assume that after telling her mom the big news and sneakily seeking her father’s input about single parenthood, motherhood is in Rory’s future.
So yes, I’m thrilled that Rory has started writing a book (even though it’s insanely hard to sell a book and even if you do sell it you’re never guaranteed major profits) and she will definitely have all of Stars Hollow in her corner if she decides to go through with her pregnancy, but overall this is not the ending I’d hoped for. Through the drama and the chaos, I wanted to see these characters forge their own paths, as they have so often in seasons past, and make informed choices about their own lives. Not to succumb to the complacent circle of life that seems to befall the inhabitants of Stars Hollow.
Instead, it’s only the male characters who live for themselves:
Kirk is still an entrepreneur; Christopher is more successful than ever; Luke’s business is going strong; Dean has the family and life he’s always wanted; Jess’ publishing house is thriving; and Logan finally seems to have his act together, at least career-wise. Meanwhile our strong female leads flounder and take cues from the men in their lives. Ouch!
I sincerely hope the show’s creators will make more episodes — our Gilmore girls deserve better!