If you’re like most Gilmore Girls fans, you loaded up on coffee and binged right through Netflix’s six-hour revival Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life when it premiered over the holiday weekend. And, if you’re like most Gilmore Girls fans, you watched under the weight of nine years of anticipation, desperate to find out what creator Amy Sherman-Palladino’s long-promised Last Four Words were.
Suffice it to say, those Last Four Words caused quite the stir. The perfect punctuation on the series, as Sherman-Palladino desired? A ridiculous whiplash twist? A gleefully provocative ellipsis? A poetic representation of these women’s relationship and also the unexpected nature of life? Or…maybe just a little overhyped?
We’ve already gone deep on those final four words. In fact, the entire internet has gone deep on those final four words. But for all the talk of the last four words, we’ve been ignoring major, shocking, gasp-inducing plots and moments: Paris is a surrogacy maven! Rory’s a really shitty journalist! Matt Czuchry’s hot-ass bod!
When critics were given the four episodes of A Year in the Life to review, we were basically forbidden to reveal any real plot information, let alone those last four words. That means that our review had far more to do with feeling—how satisfying it felt to be back in the alternately quirky and devastating world of Stars Hollow and the Gilmores—than it did with the plausibility or success of any story development.
Now that you’ve had four whole days to watch A Year in the Life—in the age of binging, that seems like an eternity—we thought it’s high time to vent about, praise, and otherwise review some of the revival’s plot points, both major and minor.
Oy with the buildup already. Here are some of our stray thoughts:
- We have mixed feelings about Rory’s boyfriend Paul (Jack Carpenter), the really nice guy that no one can remember exists. On the one hand, it’s a brilliant opening salvo to take the air out of the “which former boyfriend will Rory end up with?” debate by immediately introducing a new partner right off the bat. That no one can remember that he exists is fodder for the kind of daffy comedy that we love from Gilmore Girls, until it quickly wears out its welcome. It soon becomes yet another indictment of Rory’s narcissism, lack of empathy, and incredibly off moral compass—she sleeps with two men and has an entire affair with Logan (Matt Czuchry) while they’re dating. That’s not a bad thing, per se. That a character is selfish doesn’t make her less human or interesting on TV. But it’s certainly a choice.
- Of all the Stars Hollow characters, the update on Kirk’s (Sean Gunn) life was the most fun. Of course he has a pet pig, and of course it was actually bought for him as a crowdfunded gift from the entire town in order to distract him from having an actual child. And the Ooober bit, down to people calling his mother who will call him to have him pick them up and then, naturally, Lorelai having to use the service after so much ridicule of it, was quintessential Kirk—especially when real Uber sends him a cease and desist.
- Why is Emily’s maid played by Rose Abdoo, the same actress who portrays Gypsy? Sure, Gilmore has had the same actor play multiple characters before (Alex Borstein, for example), but it’s incredibly distracting in the revival, which isn’t watched with weeks between episodes but mere minutes. That said, we found Emily’s nonchalant embrace of the maid and her entire extended family, after years of notorious hostility towards the help, to be a quiet, beautiful portrait of both her loneliness and her healing in the wake of Richard’s death.
- We will not speak of that ghastly Life and Death Brigade musical montage—yeesh—nor will we pile on the critique of the Stars Hollow musical as twice as long as it should have been.
- We may never understand or get the full story behind the very public she said/she said between Melissa McCarthy and Amy Sherman-Palladino that eventually resolved with McCarthy returning to the revival as Sookie for only one scene in the final installment—an upgrade from not at all, as we were originally led to believe. The script in the three episodes Sookie is sorely missing from nearly overcompensates to explain away her absence, with lengthy exchanges about Sookie’s six-month sabbatical to work with Dan Barber at Blue Hill Farms going on for longer than anyone expected.
- It was a cute running gimmick that a rotating roster of celebrity chefs all try out to replace her at the Dragonfly Inn, but Lorelai keeps firing them for nonsense reasons. But the fact that McCarthy was missing from so much of the revival became acutely painful when she finally arrives in “Fall,” for the very reason that the all-too-brief scene is such a joy. The scene in which Sookie bakes nearly a dozen wedding cakes for Lorelai to choose from is so touching, and breezily warm and funny. As years pass, best friends can find themselves further apart without losing any of their intimacy when they finally do get back together, sure. But imagine how much richer the revival would have been if there was more of that friendship?
- What is this?
- Also this?
- Michel (Yanic Truesdale) is gay! It is revealed in a very matter-of-fact manner early on in the revival, with Michel mentioning his husband in one of his lengthy rants. (The town also hints that Michael Winters’s Taylor might be gay during the LGBT parade town meeting, but he doesn’t come out.) Michel also gets one of the more believable arcs, with his desire to move on from the Dragonfly Inn bucking the TV tradition of keeping characters around just to keep them around and reflecting a character who actually has career ambitions.
- Everything involving Paris was perfect, from her stature as the surrogacy specialist to the stars to her marriage and then divorce from Doyle (complete with a wink to Danny Strong’s real-life ascension to one of Hollywood’s most in-demand screenwriters) to the fact that her crippling teenage anxiety never left her, as proven by that bathroom meltdown.
- If Rory talked about her “meeting with Condé Nast” one more time we were going to throw our laptop out the window and bill Netflix for the damages. Folks, that’s not how freelance writing works. You don’t have an ambiguous meeting with the entire publisher about writing a story for one of their magazines. It’s the equivalent of getting on a phone and saying, “Hello, I’d like to speak to Africa.” She ends up talking with some sort of Condé Nast employee about a story for GQ. Why not skip the wrath of all the journalists who will be watching and just have Rory’s meeting be with GQ in the first place?
- It appears, based on Rory’s interviews with a gregarious British feminist and work on a story about people who wait in lines, that Rory is a features reporter. Why in god’s name does she travel with burner phones? It’s rightfully mocked, but still confusing in the first place. Unless she was in regular correspondence with members of ISIS, which I don’t think she was for her story about the wait for Cronuts, she would not, as a features writer, have a burner phone.
- The lucky outfit :/
- It was clever to have Rory show up for her meeting at what appears to be a Bustle-like website that was trying to recruit her and have her be embarrassingly ill-prepared for the meeting. It’s the perfect example of how Rory’s ego, talent, and desperation constantly battle each other to her net loss. Who shows up for a job interview exhibiting no discernible interest in—or even respect for—the opportunity and then is shocked to be removed from contention? Rory does.
- That said, what the hell was going on in that office? Sandee (Julia Goldani Telles), the editor, meanders past her employees somnambulantly circling things and pressing buttons on their computers. It’s deranged behavior.
- As much as we liked having Rory back in Stars Hollow, and as much as we appreciated that it served, ultimately, as the catalyst for her to begin work on her book, we thought Rory running the local Stars Hollow newspaper to be a bit of a stretch. (A stretch with payoffs: Every second of Jackie Hoffman’s scene work was a riot.)
- We said this in our initial review, but we found that the standout moments of the revival were the two big confrontations between the respective mother-daughter pairings. That the post-funeral blowout between Lorelai and Emily was wrenching goes without saying. But we found the argument after Lorelai tells Rory she doesn’t want her to write a book about their lives to be just as affecting, particular as it calls for, nine years later, a state of the union on this relationship that so many real-life mothers and daughters have either idealized or been jealous of.
- Much of “Fall” seemed like Amy Sherman-Palladino’s redo and righting of the wrongs from the final seventh season that she had no participation in, and while she, to most judges, stuck the landing, there might be some slight wobbles. Lorelai and Rory, like the original last season, had to have a falling out that caused them to figure out their lives apart, and the fight over the book combined with both of their realizations that they aren’t professionally or personally satisfied was a good one. Deciding to go on a Wild-inspired hike to gain some clarity was exactly the kind of impulsive, part-healing, part-destructive thing Lorelai would do.
- That said, the same critique of A Year in the Life, in general, applies to Lorelai’s Wild adventure: it went on for too long. A few less packing and unpacking and repacking and book vs. movie jokes would’ve gotten us to the emotional payoff faster.
- Lorelai’s phone call to Emily with her real favorite memory of her father was maybe the most exquisitely delivered monologue on TV this fall.
- Lorelai’s epiphany that she wants to marry Luke being triggered by coffee was a little on the nose. We wouldn’t have it any other way.
- There were enough lovely, fitting, genuinely moving moments to make us fall in love with this revival. Still, so many of those moments were muddied with peculiar, often nonsensical details. Emily’s epic “bullshit” monologue at the DAR followed by her moving her life to Nantucket, for example, was a gorgeous depiction of her resilience, strength, and determination. But who was that guy, that old friend of hers and Richard’s, who was always around to the point that Lorelai suspected they were dating, only for Emily to wipe her hands of him when he had to return to his business? It was all very confusing.
- Forget the last four words. The real gasp-inducing moment of the revival—in our opinion—was Matt Czuchry’s shirtless scene. In fact, we appreciated the entire Logan Huntzberger storyline, even when the character was clothed. It’s both expected and disappointing that Rory and Logan have a completely unhealthy affair going on given their unfinished business of “of course they should have ended up together.” And as good as he treats her and as clearly in love with him as she is, it would be the only true measure of her emotional maturity for her to, after over a decade now of destructive decisions involving him, to finally cast him off. How deviously perfect, then, of Sherman-Palladino to set an atom bomb to that progress by making Rory pregnant.
- If the baby isn’t Logan’s—your jokes about it being the Wookiee’s aren’t as funny as you think—it would be a gross betrayal of the loyalty of Gilmore Girls fans.
- Only a revival as successful and beloved as A Year in the Life would surface as much nitpicking from an adoring fan and critic.
- Finally: could there possibly have been a good reason for the Carole King theme song not to play at the beginning of each new installment? It was sorely missed.