Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life Roundtable Discussion (“Winter”) [Contributors/Guest Posters: Chelsea, Bibi, Hope, and Jaime]

Original Airdate: November 25, 2016

Your favorite fast-talking mother-daughter duo is back in action. The Gilmore Girls revival — also known as Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life — brought us all back to Stars Hollow to catch up with our favorite characters as they are in 2016. The miniseries stirred a lot of mixed reactions in fans, especially with those fateful final words.

Some of the ladies on our staff wanted to talk about the highs and lows of the series. Enjoy the first of our Gilmore Girls roundtables, and see what they had to say about the plot and characters. First up, “Winter”!

Who were you most excited to catch up with in the Gilmore Girls universe?

Chelsea: I missed Paris and Emily the most. They’re very similar characters in nature and I was excited to see where they would be now, particularly Emily because of the passing of the wonderful Edward Herrmann. Richard and Emily were always a package deal and it was so hard picturing one without the other.

Bibi: I missed Luke and Sookie the most. Luke has always been the most honest, loving, firm voice of reason in Loralei’s life. Sookie was always just as outrageous as Lorelai and through the ups and downs, they always had each other’s backs.

Hope: I’d have to say Luke and Lorelai. The only thing I asked going into the revival was for them to be together. They are probably my favorite TV couple in the history of TV couples and I wanted them together and happy, period. It wasn’t fair that they were reunited for a mere five minutes in the season seven finale.

I was also looking forward to seeing what Paris and Doyle were up to, because they’re perfect and I love them together (the whole divorce thing really bummed me out. I’m going to believe they eventually work things out). I was also looking forward to seeing what Lane and her family were up to.

Jaime: I have to agree with saying Luke and Lorelai. Of course Rory, Lorelai, and Emily are the heart of the show, but I knew they’d be in relatively good places with each other. But Luke and Lorelai’s relationship was left so open-ended that I really didn’t know what to expect, and I was the most nervous about seeing what the status of their relationship would be at the beginning of the revival.

Let’s check in with the girls: What do you think of where Rory is in life? Emily? Lorelai?

Chelsea: I’m pretty disappointed with where Rory is and actually quite proud of where Lorelai was in life. I’ve done more writing online than Rory has, and that’s just laughable. She went to Yale and followed Obama’s campaign but she only has one major article in a decade? That just seemed really fake. Lorelai felt just right with her relationship with Luke and her place in Stars Hollow. The only thing that felt forced were the Inn problems, but it gave Michel time to shine. And there was never going to be a good way to write Melissa McCarthy out for the bulk of the series.

Emily is the only character I felt like had real challenges in this series and a reason to grow. Her life changed so much, and part of her heart and soul was missing. She had to figure out who she was without Richard and it was the perfect journey to center the show around.

Bibi: So I was surprised with where Rory was in life. Here was this prodigy that spent her entire life working hard so that she wouldn’t end up like her mother. She had her life all figured out and we just assumed she’d be wildly successful. At 32, Rory isn’t anywhere where she wants to be and that would be okay if she was working toward her goal. But she seemed very distracted and not really that motivated to be a writer. If she doesn’t want to write, then she shouldn’t; but I think she’s pushing herself into something that she isn’t entirely sure she wants to be her life.

Lorelai has pushed herself so much and ended up having her own business, is in a relationship with Luke, and really is much different from when we were first introduced to her character. She is doing quite well.

Hope: I was disappointed in the revival’s representation of Rory. I’m not saying she should have been super successful, because this show is supposed to be realistic, but I find it hard to believe that she didn’t accomplish more in eight years. Having her still be with Logan (and cheating on poor forgettable Paul), and continuing to be with him even though he’s never going to treat her right... it made her seem weak, and I hate that.

Poor Emily. She’s frazzled and heartbroken and has a steady maid (hi, Gypsy) for the first time, ever.
Lorelai’s obsession with surrogacy went a little far. Sometimes she forgets that Luke is perfectly happy just to be with her. I wish there was more of an explanation as to why she and Luke hadn’t gotten married in the last eight years. I’m not sure I’m entirely understanding her reasoning, and that gets in the way of understanding what’s going on in her mind in the present.

Jaime: I really liked seeing how content Lorelai was. Of course she has challenges, and she grows during the course of these four episodes, but it was so great to see how far she’s come since the first episode of the original show: she’s in a happy long-term relationship, her job is more or less stable, and she’s really become the functional adult we always knew she could be.

I’m sort of torn on how I feel about Rory’s position. On the one hand, the real world is hard, and even the smartest teenagers can end up unhappy and lost. On the other hand, I just don’t think they presented her career ambitions realistically. Could she be a freelance writer who’s struggling for work? Sure, absolutely. Could she be a freelance writer who just starts to worry about her success after working for eight years and only recently writing anything of note? Uh, no, probably not, that’s not how that works. I get what they were going for, especially in trying to relate to the current state of affairs for millennials, but in trying to create an impressive yet misguided Rory, they missed the mark.

As for Emily, I think she had the most interesting storyline right from the get-go. We’ve never had to deal with anything as huge as losing a Gilmore before, so Richard’s death created a conflict we’ve never seen before on the show. Watching her handle her grief and trying to predict how Emily would react to the new world around her was one of the best parts of the revival for me.

Should we get this out of the way now? Let’s do it: Dean, Jess, or Logan? (And don’t worry, we can review how things may change for you in the last episode.)

Chelsea: I’ve always been Team Jess because I love the bad boys with hearts of gold. We did get to see a little bit of adult!Jess in the original series — how he grew up so much and dealt with his teenage anger and family issues. He felt like the most mature of Rory’s flames. Dean and Logan are man-children and I did not enjoy them on the original run. I will say I LOVE Matt Czuchry though. He’s WONDERFUL on The Good Wife and I loved seeing his face (and other bits) in the revival.

Bibi: Jess is the best person for her, period. He grounds her, pushes her, encourages her, and makes her want to be the best version of herself. He is a constant source of support and not a pushover. I think Dean was a good learning experience for Rory and most first loves are. Most first loves don’t last without growth and I think the two needed to be with other people to truly grow in relationships.

(Also, I agree with Chelsea. The Good Wife is one of my top two favorite shows of all time. Matt was extraordinary in it.) As Logan, he is equally fantastic, but Rory is basically dating her father, as most women who have absent fathers in the home tend to do. Rory is creating this warped sense of reality and a future with Logan. Logan proposed to Rory and I think it is good she didn’t accept. He has good intentions in a lot of ways, but he also thinks money can fix or solve any problem, and it can’t. They have chemistry, that can’t be denied, but can they truly grow long term. He supports her, but in some ways, it feels a little like he supports her because her career is more like a hobby and he knows that ultimately if they were to end up together, he would just take care of her. Maybe it’s just me.

Hope: I know his chances are slim to none, but I’m Team Marty. He was sweet and kind and had the same taste in movies as Rory, and they made such good friends. I truly believe he would have treated her well. Fight me on this.

Anyway, I’m not a huge fan of any of her boyfriends, although I’d much prefer she end up with Dean or Jess (who, in later seasons, seemed to grow into the person I think Rory always thought he had the potential to be, and I can see some similarities between him and Luke) than with Logan. I’m not even going to try to mask my strong dislike of Logan. Anyone but Logan.

Jaime: Fight me: I’m Team Logan. Here’s the thing. Do I necessarily think Logan is the only person deserving of Rory? No, certainly not. But I think he was the best partner for her because when she was with him, Rory got to explore different sides of herself and figure out what she truly wanted out of life and a partner. Yes, Jess always challenged her and called her out to be truthful and honest to herself, but I think in some ways she and Jess are too similar. It wouldn’t have necessarily been their downfall or anything but I think ultimately she needs someone different from her; sometimes it felt like the show was putting Rory in a box of always being the smart, curious, creative teenage genius, and I think Jess represents all those ideas. But why can’t there be more to her? Why do only those traits have to define her? That’s a freedom being with Logan allowed that Jess never did.

That said, I wasn’t necessarily going into this cheering on Logan. If she was going to definitively end up with someone, I didn’t actually want it to be Logan or Jess (or Dean, I guess, but come on, like anyone thought she would end up with Dean). It was ultimately a bigger disservice to say Rory had met the only meaningful people she’d ever meet by the time she turned twenty. But, you know, that doesn’t mean I wasn’t squealing when we first saw Logan in “Winter.” What? I’m only human.
Chelsea: I will literally fight Jaime on anything, including and especially this topic.

What do you think about the scene of Richard’s funeral and subsequent fallout with Lorelai and Emily?

Chelsea: It felt a little forced and out of place for me. I know they wanted some sort of conflict between Lorelai and Emily, but it felt so out of character that Lorelai wouldn’t have a fond memory of her dad to share. I could see her struggling if it was her mother she had to think up a memory for, but this felt so wrong. I did not like it at all.

Bibi: I wish they would have re-written it or cut it. Emotions are high during funerals and people tend to say things they don’t mean when they are grieving, but I felt like they created an additional layer of conflict that didn’t need to be there. I feel like we (the fans) already miss Richard so much. He was such an integral and cherished part of the show. I felt like we should have honored him and his legacy in a different way. Lorelai and Emily will always struggle, but this didn’t seem like the right fit.

Hope: I didn’t find the funeral as completely heart-wrenching as I expected it to be? I wish there had been words — maybe a eulogy — at the actual funeral, instead of just music. I feel it would have been rawer if they (perhaps Rory) spoke some words about the character that could also have acted as a tribute to Edward Herrmann. I thought Emily overreacted to Lorelai’s story, but what else is new? Rory’s “You couldn’t have said he was well-read?” was perfect. I agree with Chelsea — Lorelai had a better relationship with Richard than Emily, and I think she would have been able to find a better anecdote, even if she was drunk.

Jaime: I agree that it should have been a better tribute to Edward Herrmann. I guess their intention was to give us the funeral relatively quickly so they could establish it as the dark cloud over the Gilmores’ year, but I think there could have been more emphasis on what actually happened, as opposed to just kind of quickly watching the women experience it.

As for Lorelai’s speech, I agree again — it definitely didn’t work as it was. Lorelai has always been emotional and flighty, but she’s not a cruel person, and she’s almost fifty now. She knows how to act, especially in serious situations, and it just felt like too much. Plus, the crux of Lorelai and Emily’s conflicts have always been that they just fundamentally view things differently — Emily will get upset at Lorelai making jokes, or won’t understand how Lorelai felt about something. I think their issues after the funeral would have been better if Lorelai’s speech fit the usual pattern of their disagreements: if she made an ill-timed joke or even just said something as simple as “he was well-read” and had nothing else. Then that works better to move them going into therapy together: this way, it’s not the result of Lorelai doing something truly heinous and unforgivable (or excusable), it’s just the biggest example of their inability to see eye-to-eye.

What did you all think of “Winter”? Sound off in the comments below and the ladies will be back again soon to discuss the next episode of the revival!

1 comment:

  1. Did the opening banter seemed forced and without rhythm to anyone else? I know it's what Gilmour Girls is famous for but it felt like they were trying to throw way too much at it.

    I think there is part of Lorelai that might want another child (another person to invest in now that so much of her life is settled) and I can see her being really worried that she has been the one determining their life, totally over-riding Luke. She usually gets her way. But the way these worries were presented felt a bit off. If she really thought she or Luke wanted a child to raise together would they have really left it at one conversation of a couple non-sentences? Those two have had some great conversations and I can't believe that such a big thing was left so vague between the two of them. It means that it wasn't a big enough desire for them to bring it up in any real way so to change gears to looking at surrogacy seemed way off.

    Rory's actual work situation was really unclear to me. What has she been doing for 9 years? What has been successful? What has been a failure? I can't see her being scattered and jumping from thing to thing for so long. It seems not to fit with her nature. I can see her being in a serious career track and then realizing it is not what she wants but the emptiness of her work history made it feel like they were just fast-forwarding past real set up for her conflicts.

    I agree mostly with Jamie when it comes to the Dean, Jess or Logan question. Dean never felt like a real option to me. He was super dreamy and all at first but their values and ambitions were just never going to work together and he was a first love, important but not long term. As for Jess and Logan, I think both were important in her life but I always felt like they were little shadows of Luke and Christopher. Rory's choices shouldn't just be a facsimile of her mother's. Please say she can have options other than boyfriends from before the age of 23. Thank heavens I did not end up with anyone I was interested in before the age of 23. (I know some people meet their person at uni but those doors seemed closed after graduation and I hoped for something else for her.) The show presents the only other possibility as some non-entity called Paul that is basically a running joke? I think their real problem is that Paul represents anyone Rory could have gotten involved with in the 9 years we didn't see. We would have no investment in such a character because we didn't see their backstory. No such newbie would have held a candle to previous love interests. I think it would have been more promising to give a little hint that she meets someone new and interesting in the course of the year we are watching. But that probably would have been too much to add in to all the other stuff going on. Oh wait, cut out most of the Logan story and give him a cameo like the others! (Joking, not joking ;) )