When Kelly Bishop, who plays grand dame Emily Gilmore in Gilmore Girls and its just-launched Netflix revival, Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, learned what the infamous last four words of the series were, she had an unexpected reaction.
They were kept top-secret, she told The Daily Beast. She finally asked someone what they were, and, "If it's true, this is a really lousy thing to say, if it's really true that those are the last four words then my reaction is 'Eh.' That's it."
Now that fans finally know what those last four words are, too, it's likely that they mirror her reaction.
Series creator Amy Sherman-Palladino has long teased these last four words, the intentioned end to a show she never got the opportunity to bring to a close. Due to contentious negotiations, she left the original series before its final seventh season, leaving the show to wrap without the singular vision of its creator.
Without its leader, the final season suffered. In the nine years since, Sherman-Palladino has even said she couldn't bring herself to watch it. And she has said, over and over, countless times—and, sure, mostly because fans and journalists won't stop asking—that she had four specific words in mind to end the series with.
And when Netflix announced it was bringing the series back fans geeked out: more zippy banter! More coffee! THE LAST FOUR WORDS!
Whoo-ee have we all been building up to the last four words. They will be perfect. The have to be! They're the last four words! You've heard, right? That there are four final words that will give this series a wonderful ending. They will blow your mind. Civilization as we know it will never be the same. They are the four words! They are everything.
Here they are. Rory: "Mom?" Lorelai: "Yeah?" Rory: "I'm pregnant."
Eh. That's it.
Buildup is a bitch.
It's honestly not even Sherman-Palladino's fault. Today's media culture is designed to whip people up into hyperbolic frenzy, a culture of hype that nothing can live up to. Let's face it: at this point unless the last four words contained the GPS coordinates to Scrooge McDuck's vault of gold coins, they were going to be a letdown.
Is it possible, then, to assess those last four words divorced from the years of anticipation? Arguably, though the devil's advocate might argue that it contradicts the ethos that leads to revivals like A Year in the Life in the first place. It's s critical mass of nostalgia combined with curiosity and excitement that distributors like Netflix and creatives like the cast and creators of a show to bring it back.
In other words, if we didn't spend nine years caring what those four words were, there wouldn't be A Year in the Life.
And here's the thing: "Eh" isn't necessarily bad. It's not a negative reaction. It's not an indictment of them. It's a pure reflex, one that doesn't mean they're not, at the very least, interesting. In fact, they may be bold, and maybe even logical—if not particularly profound or transformative.
To recap those last minutes: it is Luke and Lorelai's wedding night. They plan a wedding in Stars Hollow's town square, which is set for the next afternoon but, in a moment of certainty of their love the night before, they decide to round up the reverend and do it that night instead.
They wake up Rory and all dance through a gazebo decked out with twinkling lights in an exceptionally precocious musical montage that would be absolutely insufferable were Luke and Lorelai not finally getting married, goddammit, and so you were weeping at the beauty instead of rolling your eyes.
Afterwards, Rory and Lorelai are sitting on the steps of the gazebo, the same steps they were sitting on in the first scene of the revival. Lorelai just finished talking about how happy she is. "Mom?" Rory says. "Yeah?" Lorelai replies. "I'm pregnant." Lorelai turns to her in shock. Cut to black.
If a final scene is meant to cause a stir, this one certainly succeeds.
It has the effect of everyone looking at each other eliciting a symphony of gasps and huhs and WTFs, living rooms in simultaneous face spasms with eyebrows raising willy nilly. You want to get a reaction with these last moments, and the most audacious of creatives will challenge the audience to respond viscerally, even if that means every laud of creative genius is contrasted with a jeer and an eye roll. Think The Sopranos, speaking of cutting to black.
It's sure to be polarizing. It's also a kind of fascinating choice.
First of all, can we talk about Rory is totally stealing Lorelai's thunder? Geezus, kid, this woman gave up her entire adult life, always put her happiness on the back burner, so that you could have every luxury and advantage that a 16-year-old mother would have to work 10 times as hard in order to give you. Can she have one freaking day that is just about her?
Rory, of course, is the worst, and this is such a Rory thing to do. But that's the funny and deceptively brilliant thing about characters who are the worst. We only are irritated by them because we see so much of ourselves in them. It takes a clever writer to craft a character and resist the temptations to script out all the ugly narcissistic, selfish tendencies we all have without even realizing it (hence the narcissism). In that respect, Rory is a great character.
And now she's pregnant. It's to be assumed, of course, that the father is Logan. The timeframe matches that Rory's final tryst before saying what are to believe is a final goodbye to her engaged ex-boyfriend that she's been regularly sleeping with for an extended period of time (ugh, Rory!) would be the one that led to her pregnancy, and not her roll in the hay with a Wookie in New York City. We hope.
It's jaw-dropping news. It gives added weight, too, to the meeting that Rory has with her father, Christopher, the day before Lorelai's wedding. At first it appears that she wants to warn him about Lorelai's marriage so that he's not blindsided, and also ask him if it's OK that she put him in the book that she's writing about her life. But the questions she has for him, about how he felt about Lorelai's decision to raise her alone, suddenly take on new meaning: Rory is trying to decide how she will handle raising a child, and how her choices will affect the happiness of Logan, man she's always had affection for.
It's also important to remember that Amy Sherman-Palladino had these words, and Rory's pregnancy, in mind for a finale nine years ago, when Rory was 21 or 22 years old, just out of college, and about to join Barack Obama's presidential campaign bus as a reporter. She had just turned down Logan's marriage proposal. Every decision she had made was for a free, independent life. A baby at that time would have changed everything for a person so young, for whom that wasn't a consideration—as is the case for so many women and couples who encounter this surprise at that time of their loves.
Viewing it as an end to the series as we knew it then, too, is poignant. For seven seasons, we learned how Lorelai had sacrificed for and taught Rory. To, at the most promising time of her life, have everything come to a screeching halt, to have to put all those plans and the future aside to have and raise a kid, would be repeating the same chain of events that Lorelai experienced when she was young.
Viewers could have viewed it any number of ways: a testament, as the show has always taught us, that you can't plan for what life throws at you. A slap in the face to the sacrifices that Lorelai had made to Rory. A commentary on the pressure we put on women to delineate priorities between personal and professional ambition. Or a heavy-handed reminder of how similar this mother and daughter are.
But these four words didn't happen nine years ago. They happened in this revival. Rory is 32. She's at a career crossroads. She's had an intimate relationship, however appropriate, with the same man for over a decade. Her two best friends have multiple kids. Her entire narrative over the year has been a search for a purpose and direction in her life.
Getting pregnant ain't that weird!
It's still a shock, yes. But it's hardly the oh-em-gee game changer that it would've been nine years ago. And, I'd say, it's even more interesting because of it!
It's punctuation on what's been a rare and provocative examination of a thirtysomething who's a byproduct of the twentysomething culture we've spent the last decade obsessively wringing our hands over and analyzing.
And while we can flip to any channel and see the plight of wayward millennials tackled in myriad ways—Lena Dunham is the rare pop culture figure to get two shout outs in Year in the Life—it's refreshing and rare to see what happens to that generation once they graduate out of the easy-to-mock twentysomething phase.
Stars Hollow's "Thirtysomething Gang" of adults who made a go at being a success in the world before losing their way and heading back home are a terrifying, hilarious running gag, sort of haunting Rory, who, as always, proves an awkward fit with her peers. It's repeatedly made clear how immensely talented and ambitious she is, but it's never convincingly explained why she so often has trouble translating that into traditional success, routinely leaving her with her tires spinning.
Maybe that's more realistic a situation than we'd sometimes like to think, even if it contributes to some of the more frustrating tenets of Rory's character: never entitled, but often selfish; so much potential, but a tendency for self-sabotage; a brain that is routinely overrided by her heart.
There's always been a sense that Rory doesn't have a sense of reality, or at least loathes living in reality. With those four words, reality comes crashing down on her. How will she handle it? It's fascinating.
Is "fascinating" a word we've spent nine years waiting to use? It's better than "eh." And, as more and more Gilmore fans finish their binges we expect it's one of the kinder ones that will be evoked. More likely, as those viewers get to those last four words, we expect to hear some choice four-letter ones in response.