Revisiting ‘Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life’
Why the Four-Part Series Was So Disappointing
Now that fall has arrived, it’s officially time for another ‘Gilmore Girls’ rewatch. The entire series is considered comfort viewing for many, but for others, it’s somewhat difficult to cozy up to the new episodes that were released in 2016.
Reunions and reboots of our nostalgic faves are commonplace nowadays, but ‘Gilmore Girls’ was in a unique position in that viewers never got to see the ending that creator Amy Sherman-Palladino had intended for the series; So, when it was announced that the show was coming back for new episodes, fans everywhere were ecstatic. Palladino would finally get to redo the series finale. She would pick up right where she left off. And she did.
Many plot lines from season six carried over into the new episodes. We got to see Lorelai in therapy, Luke and Lorelai’s ongoing conversations about marriage and whether or not they should have kids, and even Rory’s insecurity about being a journalist in the presence of Mitchum Huntzberger.
It would have been interesting to see how all of this played out in the show’s original run, but unfortunately, they continued these storylines about ten years too late. We expected characters to have grown in the time since then.
Take Jess, for example. He was arguably the most flawed character in the series, but also the most compelling to watch because of his character development. This is why it was so satisfying to see how put together he became in contrast to those who always looked down on him. However, it was also heartbreaking to have his last scene be one longing look at Rory, when he once said that he’d never sit around waiting for the girl he liked to change her mind and notice him. His defiance was a sad insight into his attitude towards relationships as a teenager. Now, despite everything else in his life going well, we ultimately never got to see him work through the romantic issues that caused so many problems in the past.
Emily was one character that had a great transformative arc, which I think can be attributed to the fact that her storyline was completely new and not tied to an idea from the past. Much of Emily’s life in the original series was about how she lived in relation to her husband, Richard. After the unexpected death of Edward Hermann, a different story had to be told revolving around the elder Gilmore. Her carefree attitude was one of the highlights of the new episodes. It’s not far off to think that we wouldn’t have seen Emily’s personal growth as a character if Richard was still there for her to lean on.
This brings us to Rory, whom fans have been the most critical of. She had the potential for an Emily-like journey of self-discovery, but what we got instead was the same entitled girl who hadn’t learned from her past mistakes. It would’ve been nice to see Rory making good decisions and if not thriving, then struggling but persevering in the career that she had been so passionate about when she was younger. Unfortunately, she’s held back by those last four words that were planned for the finale years ago.
The theme of “full-circle” that Sherman-Palladino had envisioned for the show also regressed Rory as a character in the process. Seeing Rory, and even friends Lane and Paris end up just like their mothers meant that all those years we saw them trying to go down a different path were for nothing.
Now that the revival has come and gone, we are still left wondering where our favorite characters could have ended up if their stories changed along with the times.