Is it me or did the Sherman-Palladino’s get passive aggressive with a weird reboot ending?
Like every series fan, I got more than a little keyed up when I heard about the return of Gilmore Girls, an old fave that formed part of a near mythical line up on the old WB network. Would it fly?
Nine years is a long time, and scoring back the entire cast (the late Edward Herrmann excepted) for a mini Season 8 was a coup too good to miss out on. I had enjoyed a seven year love her-hate her relationship with Lorelai Gilmore, probably because I saw some of myself in her. Yacky, quirky, vulnerable and funny, she was also wise in the face of tragedy, if not hyper malleable when caught in a tough spot. Her on again, off again relationships, her inability to take a position and stick with it, and her fierce loyalty to her community always kept me rationalizing, wanting to make sense of her in the hopes that she’d come around to what I, the fan, wanted for her. In this, the Sherman-Palladino writing team succeeded in 2016.
The reboot showed us a Lorelai who hasn’t changed much since the show’s first run, and for those of us who caught on to the pathology behind her inertia, it was not only expected, but immensely satisfying on delivery. Still fast talking and coffee swilling, she is plagued by doubts about what the future holds and how she’ll deal with it when inevitable change comes. Aging is not touched upon nor should it be. Lorelai is timeless, blundering through life with steely determination and a calculating glint in her eyes. Both fox and hare, she will go on no matter what the show runners do to her and we love her for that. But when the narrative turns to Rory, something strange happens. Like her mother, she is still where we left her: questioning, seeking, battling to retain her optimism. All good things to highlight, given the current zeitgeist. But for the character, I wanted more.
After a Yale education and years on the international journo circuit culminating in a triumphant feature piece in a major magazine, thirty-two-year-old Rory Gilmore returns to Stars Hollow and her mother. Dislocated, without home and purpose, the gal is down. Will she pick herself up and triumph as her plucky mother did thirty-two years before, when she settled in the mythical burg at sixteen years young with a baby in tow?
I’m not sure.
HUGE SPOILER (BOLDED)
After four ninety minute episodes, writers “came full circle” to quote one of the series stars, ending with four (or three, depending on how you look at contractions) simple words from Rory: “Mom, I’m pregnant.”
Given the propensity for supermarket tabloids to push themes like “Baby and wedding on the way,” “Pregnant and dumped,” and “Christmas divorce,” I shouldn’t have been surprised. But I was. One of the many charms radiating off this series was the sparkling message that a Gilmore Girl could not be kept down. Her errors, missteps and heroic stubbornness would always give way to a solution more positive than the last go ’round.
Rory’s rejection of her Gilmore past with a thorough dumping of privileged boyfriend Logan at the end of Season 7 marked her escape from her mother’s past, which she had little choice but to live as a minor. Nine years later, she is back, older and presumably wiser, but still tripping the edges of the past we thought she rejected. Instead of feeling good about it, I was reminded, yet again, of how dastardly nostalgia comes into play when its disciples spend too much time caught in its tentacles.
Is replicating the main protagonist’s life the penultimate or final plot point in 2016, or has Gilmore Girls been a spec fiction piece in a divergent universe all along? Far from happy ending, it seems to hint at something darker in the Stars Hollow universe: a loop doomed to repeat. Run, Rory, run, and don’t look back!
The reboot has been embraced and celebrated widely, with many fans calling for more. I had so wanted to be part of that club, but find I can’t: At least, not now; not until I figure out what I just saw and what it really means.
Adult, unapologetic and wholly cognizant,
Gilmore Girls Fan
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