Gilmore Girls 10 years later: A reflection

Like a lot of people my age, I was incredibly excited when Netflix announced that they were rebooting “Gilmore Girls.” I’ve mentioned before that the 2000s were my pop culture heyday, and “Gilmore Girls” was the show around which all other shows revolved for me. As cliche as it sounds, I watched the show religiously – and it wasn’t just me, either. I would come to school and talk about the show in minuscule detail with my friends. Back then I watched everything as part of a group, a larger whole that provided reference to the culture I was imbibing, but that’s a post for another time. Let’s focus on the topic at hand.

So, I was super excited to hear that “Gilmore Girls” was coming back, but I was also kinda wary. I loved this show you guys, and to me, the season seven ending was honestly kinda perfect. Lorelai and Luke were clearly set, Rory finally dumped Logan, whom I’ve always hated (I’m #TeamJess all the way. They should get married, live in a loft in Queens, and run an indie publishing house together.), and it seemed like the Gilmore parents were going to be open to coming out of their New Haven den and joining the lesser mortals of Stars Hollow and the state of Connecticut at large. So I approached the Netflix reboot with some trepidation, hoping that it would, at minimum, not destroy the fondness I have for this show.

Let me say right now that it wasn’t a complete disaster, but it wasn’t what I hoped or imagined it would be. Part of the issue lies in me and my perceptions of the show. When I was watching the original “Gilmore Girls” back in middle school, I identified with Rory so strongly it was a honestly a little creepy. Rory embodied all the qualities I hoped to have: she was smart, well-read, a role model for her peers, and most of all, she was pursuing a journalism degree with genuine seriousness. In a world where smart girls went to med school and writing was a hobby for housewives, this was nothing short of revelatory. It’s no exaggeration to say that I not only saw myself in Rory Gilmore, I wanted to be Rory Gilmore.

Spoilers Hollow five miles ahead

Watching the reboot, I realized that once again, I see myself in Rory Gilmore. Wrestling with a career in writing, feeling aimless as she takes a stab at independence from the 9-to-5 world and tries to do her own thing (write a book, which, OMG, I’m also working on right now! Coincidence, or is Amy Sherman Palladino cyber-stalking me for inspiration? I’ll let you come to your own conclusions). The main difference is that I’m not 32. Not to be all judgey, but I don’t understand why Rory cannot, at her age, have the common sense to rent a place to at least store all her stuff in, especially when her solution involves sending at least a fifth of that stuff to another country. So yeah, this wasn’t the image I wanted to see, the image I wanted to project myself onto eight years from now.

It was disorienting. Or disappointing. A little of both. I wanted to see Rory successful and happy, partly so I that could believe that I too would be successful and happy. But I also wanted her to be happy because I really like Rory Gilmore. She feels so familiar, like an old outfit that doesn’t quite fit but you still wear it because you have so many fond memories of wearing it.

Instead Rory’s back in old, bad habits. Logan, whom I hate and have hated and will always hate, and the being the other woman thing that was terrible but forgivable when she was a naive virgin but is just mind-boggling now. The enforced homelessness is not as cute or endearing as it would have been if this had picked up from when Rory was just out of college. The friendships with Lane and Paris, which were the heart and soul of the show, for me at least, are rigid and stiff. What, no hug for your best friends of two decades after months apart? Jeez Rory, let’s at least try and fake some warmth here.

So yeah, it was disappointing. The Rory part, anyway. Thank God for Emily, Luke, Paris, and Michel. They made this show then and they make this show now. Paris and Michel are hilarious, dealing with their own major transitions – is anyone surprised that the Paris-Doyle union didn’t last? I’m honestly surprised Paris consented to having kids, although maybe she got one of her “top breeders” to carry them – and their freakouts about where life has placed them are sweet and understandable. Michel being nice to children is a moment that will live with me forever. Heck, Paris being nice to children, her children, is a moment that will live with me forever. Emily grieving over Richard (actor Edward Hermann died in 2014) broke my heart, and his death permeates the entire four-episode series.

But even in grief, Emily is the same sharp, witty, scheming woman she’s always been. Master of all that she sees, even when it’s not technically hers. She assumes everything will bend to her will and it does, all the way to the very end.

And Luke. Oh Luke. Lukey Luke Luke. He is the same as ever, and it is as comforting and warm as I imagine the food at his diner is. He is, in many ways, the character that represents the audience, watching the titular Gilmore girls barrel through their lives, making poor decisions and drinking lots and lots of coffee. And he is patient and supportive and loving even in the darkest times. And when he finally fights for Lorelai the way he did in the last season of the original, but then it was too late because Lorelai had already invited the devil indoors (yes, Christopher is the devil in all this). It was a perfect moment. It was what I had hoped that moment in season 7 would be.

If only there had been more Jess, or less Logan, or more Paris, or more Sookie, or less Taylor (what was with that weird musical storyline?), I would have come away feeling better about the reboot.

But there were a few shining moments that saved the whole thing for me. Jess telling Rory to write her story. Sookie’s triumphant return and Michel’s well-earned rant. Emily turning on the club. Emily and Lorelai in therapy, and I really wish we had spent more time there. Emily terrifying children in Nantucket. Paris terrifying children at Chilton. Hep Alien still rocking, and Paris just not getting it. Jess and Luke getting ready for the wedding. Lorelai telling Rory to go ahead and write the book. “Just Gilmore Girls. It’s cleaner.” Kirk getting something right for once. Emily finding peace in Nantucket. Luke and Lorelai finally getting married.

Overall, I’m glad I watched it. I wish Rory would make better decisions, but maybe it’s good for me to see her like this. At some point you have to accept that life isn’t and never will be perfect. People disappoint you. You disappoint yourself. Things don’t work out in your favor, and sometimes you self-sabotage a little bit. Any perfection life does hold is fleeting, so we should enjoy it for what it’s worth. You should be happy no matter what. And of course, I realize that I’m not the only fan, that some people are inexplicably #TeamLogan, and that it’s not the Palladinos’ fault that I project myself onto their fictional characters.

So here’s to next time, and you’d better believe there will be a next time, because no way are we ending there.