Like many women my age, I spent a happy portion of my teenagehood immersed in the fantasy world of Gilmore Girls, a reality in which life's troubles were punctuated by quickfire witticisms and copious amounts of coffee. When the revival, A Year In The Life, was announced, I quickly started rewatching the entire show, happy to learn that it was almost better than I remembered. And the reunion was sure to be better than that.
Boy, was I wrong.
This weekend I forced seven of my friends to sit through the six hours of Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life. The marathon claimed several bottles of wine, seemingly gallons of coffee, and our sanities, probably. The first episode started out strong, and we all teared up at the flashback-style intro, but as "Winter" turned to "Spring" it soon became apparent that this attempt at a nostalgic, fan-satisfying event was one giant mess. And here's why.
What Is Chronology?
Despite the fact that the original series and the revival revolves around the idea of the seasons passing, A Year In The Life had no coherency when it came to actual chronology.
Let's start with what we missed, or rather, what we didn't. The revival is set roughly nine years after the end of #GilmoreGirls, and yet it is oh-so easy to jump back into the story. Nothing has changed. Lorelai's still running the same old inn (without even thinking of expanding until the end of Episode 4, when this decision should have been the driving force of the entire show), Luke's still running the diner, Rory is running back and forth from London to Stars Hollow, for no apparent reason other than her ongoing affair.
The only major life event in the missing nine years was Richard Gilmore's death. No-one got sick. No-one did anything radical with their lives. We didn't wonder, or even care, what we didn't see onscreen — and that's a huge writing mistake. But hey, maybe nothing happened in almost ten years because these people are just really really boring.
Then there's the continuity errors. Emily invites Lorelai to therapy at the end of "Winter", when everyone's still bundled up against the cold. At the beginning of "Spring", we find Emily and Lorelai in their first session, in cool dresses. Nothing is made of the fact that it took them months to get to the appointment. Similarly, Lorelai announces at the end of "Summer" that she's "doing Wild" — months later, at the start of "Fall", she tells Luke in a phone call that she's only been alone 12 hours. What?!
Oh, and let's just quickly marvel at the scene in which Rory, at midday on the East Coast, called Logan in London, where it was inexplicably 2am. There is a five hour time difference between these places. That's not difficult to Google.
This is nothing more than lazy writing and a lack of script editing and honestly, it's not the worst thing in the world. But oh, there's more.
The Town That Time Forgot
I used to love Stars Hollow. It was this quirky, beautiful place, filled with strange but ultimately kind people. Somehow, in the nine years since the first show, this town became oppressive and arrogant, so bloated with privilege and upper middle class wealth that it isn't just out of touch, the very ground it rests on seems to have had a fundamental disagreement about the laws of gravity with the rest of the Earth, taking Stars Hollow floating off into a different reality in which fat-shaming by the pool is cute and funny and there's only one gay in the village.
(Seriously, what with that town meeting? Maybe the reason there aren't any LGBT people in your town is because you keep referring to them as "the gays" and will force them to march in a Pride parade, regardless of what they actually want.)
Sitting by the pool, glorifying colonialism with their faux child slaves (where are the parents of these children?) Lorelai and Rory casually make fun of overweight people — pausing only briefly to ridicule a woman for daring to wear a bikini. We're left wondering when the Gilmore girls became mean girls. Wasn't this show feminist, once upon a time? Now, Rory's having one night stands with Wookie cosplayers because apparently this is 2007 and women have no place in nerd culture.
There was no actual reflection on real current events. No conflict derived from an influx of a new, diverse population to Stars Hollow. Lorelai might have watched that overlong musical in horror, but we weren't surprised. This play (a joke which overstayed its welcome by at least ten minutes) was the logical product of a town that has intentionally isolated itself — and we wore Lorelai's exact expression the entire way through A Year In The Life.
Same Lorelai, same.
No Tale To Tell
But we could forgive all of this. We could chock the bad continuity up to a hiccup in production, explain away Stars Hollow's bigotry by arguing A Year In The Life is a scathing commentary on Suburbia. And yet, there is one giant flaw in the revival that we can't ignore: There's no story.
The entire six hours of the revival is a meandering wander through two lives with no purpose. Rory is terrible at her chosen career, and has no articles to pitch to major publications despite the fact that she studied Journalism at Yale. Lorelai has a successful inn and a supportive boyfriend, and yet for some reason that isn't actually resolved, is unhappy in her life.
The charm and the humor of the original show is almost completely absent. We aren't invited to root for the eponymous Gilmore girls because they just keep getting upset over nothing. Aside from Michel, who is a delight, Emily is by far the strongest part of the revival — her journey from grief to finally finding her own identity outside of the ridiculous DAR world is fantastic.
It's just a shame we didn't get to see most of it. The sweet, poignantly ironic story of how Emily found her herself after she started living with her maid's family, is completely hidden behind unnecessary scenes of Rory's affair, and Lorelai making outdated pop culture references.
That DAR scene was fantastic, though. I never knew anyone could eat a biscuit so scathingly. #lifegoals
So, was this worth waiting nine years for? Not really. Was it the worst that it could have been? Of course not, but it wasn't the best. A Year In The Life could have really shaken things up, shown us a Lorelai who had truly grown as a person, a Rory who was an amazing journalist but couldn't land a full time career because of a cruel job market. We could have had a plot revolving around a major life change or a family illness, or the mystery of what really happened in the intervening years.
Instead, the Gilmore girls bicker about nothing as interesting plot opportunities — the inn expansion, the therapy sessions, Lorelai starting a family again — fly by like so many forgettable Marvel superheroes.
At least Kirk was funny.