When Gilmore Girls first aired, it was quietly revolutionary. At its core this was the story of a young, single mother raising her daughter to take on the world. Rory's path through Chiltern, all those trips to Harvard then Yale, even Lorelai's reconciliation with her parents were all wrapped up in one singular purpose: That Rory would grow up to be great.
Sure, Lorelai's journey from hotel manager to owning the Dragonfly Inn was a big part of it, but for many viewers — especially the younger ones — it was Rory's future that really drove the show. We were Rory, and we couldn't wait to see her succeed.
Season 7 ended with Rory about to jump on Senator Obama's campaign bus as a junior reporter, and we knew that Rory had her bright future secured. But as A Year In The Life revealed, this was all just a pipe dream.
17 Years Of Potential Wasted
There were so many things I was excited to see in A Year In The Life (Lorelai and Luke together! What Paris did next! Jess!!!!!), but Rory's career was what I was looking forward to most. I couldn't wait to see whether she realized her dream to become a foreign correspondent — and how she coped with the fiercely competitive, and often unfair job market.
After going through it all myself, I was hoping for some pithy commentary on unpaid internships, the hoops we millennials are forced to jump through to even be considered for entry-level jobs. That would have been the perfect ironic foil to Rory's starry eyed ambition throughout the original Gilmore Girls, and I expected to see her struggle.
What I didn't expect was that Rory would just be really, really bad at her job.
In A Year In The Life we are introduced to a Rory who has barely had a job since she left university. She's a freelance journalist with only a few notable pieces and can't seem to land another. At first we sympathize with her, because times are tough now. But as Rory shrinks in interviews, fails to come up with any pitches, and doesn't even deign to work at a start-up website because it's beneath her... well, it starts to feel like maybe she doesn't have a career because she's just not very good at journalism.
Which doesn't make sense. Rory was fiercely intelligent, a fantastic writer by most accounts. Sure she had her weaknesses, but she knew how to sniff out a story — unlike the Rory we meet in A Year In The Life, whose only viable idea is to write her own life. Oh, and that's not even her idea, because Jess suggested it to her.
A Year In The Life seemed to only expand on and develop Rory's character weaknesses rather than her strengths, which didn't make us root for her. Instead of the creative and driven Rory we knew from original series, we have this woman who spends more time on an affair with a (pretty much) married man than the career she so desperately wanted. And the worst thing is, this was predicted in the show.
Logan's Father Was Right
Gilmore Girls' major conflict occurred in Season 5, when Rory became so disillusioned with herself that she dropped out of Yale, leading to an estrangement with Lorelai and months of languishing in her grandparents' pool house. This was fascinating because it was the antithesis of what Gilmore Girls was journeying towards: Rory's illustrious future.
Of course, Rory eventually returned to Yale and set her life back on track, all in defiance of Mitchum Huntsburger after he shattered her self confidence. Except, A Year In The Life proved him right.
Mitchum believed that Rory wasn't meant to be a journalist, that her shy demeanor and eagerness to please would lead her to failure. At the time, we knew he had underestimated Rory, that she could learn from this and grow. After all, the entire point of the show was that she would succeed. That we, the younger generation of viewers who identified with her, could succeed in our ambitions.
At the end of the day, that's why this revival was such a disservice to her: Because it was a disservice to us. Rory ultimately couldn't land a job because she had no ideas, she was forced to live with her mother after the big bad world spat her back out, along with the other "Thirty Something Club" — and all of this played into so many negative stereotypes about lazy millennials.
Amy Sherman-Palladino is not a twenty or thirty something, and this was evident in her writing. Before A Year In The Life aired, Sherman-Palladino said she wanted to explore why so many people Rory's age return home. But instead of examining the current culture, Sherman-Palladino went with the simplest answer: That like Mitchum Huntsburger said, we just don't have what it takes.
But this is not the early noughties. We don't have pagers and we don't move in packs or reenact the milkshake scene from There Will Be Blood. We had dreams like Rory's until we had to alter our ambitions.
The thing is, Rory didn't have to become a foreign correspondent. It would have been great to see her forced to choose another path in life — but because of the current cultural climate, not because she just fizzled out. Crucially, Rory's different path should have been one that was still socially important, because that's what the original Gilmore Girls was driving towards.
Instead, Rory writes her own life into a book to the chagrin of her mother, moves back home, and proves Mitchum right. She didn't have what it took to succeed in her ambitions, and that's the most crushingly disappointing thing the revival could have done.
Oh, and thanks to those infamous final four words we're right back where we started: A single mom stuck in Stars Hollow. Christiane Amanpour who?