I vividly remember the moment that Gilmore Girls ended.
It was spring of 2007 and Samantha’s living room was cluttered with a scattering of used tissues, empty take-out containers, and pairs of mothers and daughters with red-rimmed eyes. For those 42 minutes, the room, tucked away in a small Connecticut town much like our beloved Stars Hollow, remained completely silent. Well, silent apart from the rapid-fire dialogue and infamous ‘La La’s bellowing from the TV in front of us one final time.
As that crane shot pulled away from Luke’s Diner and the screen faded to black, I couldn’t comprehend it. I knew all things had to end at some point, but as the living room re-awoke, I couldn’t find the words. Emma was the first to break the silence, uttering a simple, slightly cracked: “that’s it?”
That was really it.
No more Lorelai. No more Rory. No more crazy Kirk or overzealous Paris Geller. It was the first of many TV-related heartbreaks that I’ve since experienced over the past nine years.
Gilmore Girls was the first show I fell head over heels for. The love affair started one particularly brisk snow day in sixth grade. My mom and I had burrowed ourselves into her bed, armed with hot chocolate and freshly baked cookies, and watched the entire first season on box set — an impulse purchase from FYE the week before. I guess Lorelai was right: magical things do happen when it snows.
That Hanukkah, Mom got me the next four seasons. Although, realistically, the present was as equally for her as it was for me. Together, we powered through five seasons ahead of the season six premiere, binge-watching like champs before binge-watching was even a thing.
As I made my way through high school and then college, Gilmore Girls became a staple in my life, a show I’d always go back to when I needed something familiar or a new perspective on a situation. I swear, there is a Gilmore Girls episode for everything in life if you look deep enough.
What I always loved about this show, aside from the pop culture references, quick-fire jokes, and natural chemistry between the cast, was that the characters weren’t perfect. All three leading ladies are extremely flawed, but you love them anyway. Yes, Rory is spoiled and at times entitled (and at 32, still is), but she’s also ambitious, a hard worker, and a go-getter. Instead of making her idealistic, she feels real. That’s probably why I’ve spent my life unintentionally emulating her fictional one–both in her successes and in her mistakes. Well, aside from stealing a yacht; I never did that.
More than that though, the moments that have stuck with me (and have also become ingrained in collective pop culture history) aren’t an assortment of big, overly dramatic situations, but rather small, human, flashes that are so relatable you can’t help but laugh or cry along with them — “I’m ready to wallow now,” anyone?
So, in January 2016 when Netflix officially announced Gilmore Girls was coming back for the revival, it’s safe to say I had a little bit of a moment. And by a little bit of a moment, I mean I texted my roommate not to be alarmed if she walks in and finds me in the fetal position “because Gilmore Girls is being resurrected.” Then, I proceeded to cry into the rice pilaf I had been making before I heard the news.
What I always loved about this show, aside from the pop culture references, quick-fire jokes, and natural chemistry between the cast, was that the characters weren’t perfect.
The next 11 months felt like nothing but a countdown to the moment I would look on Netflix and see ‘New Episodes’ under the Gilmore Girls picture. When the day finally came, my mom and I took our seats on the couch, shunned my dad and brother (who had been home for two days from college) from entering the living room, and forbid them from speaking in any audible tone. Then, we took our trip back to Stars Hollow.
Winter, the first of the four 90-minute episodes, opens with an audio collection of best moments and greatest lines over the names of the core cast. Then, came the ‘La La’s’ which lead into the Stars Hollow sign and a happy Lorelai sitting on the town’s beloved gazebo surrounded by snow, waiting for Rory. I’ll admit, the first 15 minutes or so are a bit rough as the cast finds their footing again. But, as you reach the 20-minute mark, all the awkwardness disappears and we’re back in their world, and being introduced to Paul, Rory’s nice, considerate, but forgettable boyfriend who becomes a running joke throughout all four episodes. Of course, this was a shock to many fans, myself included, as no one could picture Rory with anyone besides from Dean, Jess, or Logan. Which, *spoiler* given her controversial affair with Logan, I guess she also agrees with.
In comparison to other revivals of beloved shows like Full House or Boy Meets World, the focus isn’t on nostalgia. There’s no throw in of random catch phrases and limited reminiscing on the old series; the fully formed world is enough of a satisfying callback and, thankfully, the writers realized that. It feels like we just picked up where we left off, as if these people didn’t lay idle in the imaginary land where characters go when their shows are canceled but rather, continued on with their lives and we’re just catching up to them now.
Unlike that time the writers of Girl Meets World tried to make Topanga Lawrence own a bakery (as if that would have fulfilled her), the characters’ positions nine years later make total sense to who they were. For example, Paris, who was famously pre-med but terrified of sick people, now owns and runs a successful fertility and surrogacy clinic. Or, Logan for instance, has given up his spoiled rich boy antics and joined the family business, which again, makes total sense for his pre-established trajectory. Although a self-proclaimed sell-out, which acts as an evident parallel to Rory’s father Christopher, he’s still the loveable, selfish, and spoiled party boy he always was. As for Kirk? He’s still… as unique as ever.
The revival goes deeper than the original series ever did, which probably connects to how television has evolved with streaming services and the monumental budget this was given. Everything we loved about the original is bigger; the funny moments are laugh-out-loud funny and the sad moments are gut-wrenching. It reminded me time and time again why I loved these characters so much.
While the entire four episodes neared perfection, there were a couple things I could have done without. For one, that stupid ‘Stars Hollow Musical.’ While the moment in Summer where Lorelai breaks down to a song called ‘Unbreakable’ from said musical was beautiful, the fifteen minutes prior that was dedicated to it was a waste of screen time. With only six hours to spend with the characters so many loved, most of that musical time should have been dedicated to another moment between say, Jess and Luke or Lane and Rory.
On top of that, while I loved Emily’s transformation through the grieving process following Richard’s death and her reconnection with Lorelai, I just don’t know if I can really see her giving up her lifestyle of 50 years in Hartford society to become a tour guide in a whale museum. Has she ever mentioned a love of aquatic life before? I mean, hey, it is a total departure from everything she’s known and that’s an exciting new adventure she can go on, but I don’t know… whales?
As for that ending? Sure, a lot of fans were mad but honestly, I’m on board with it.
Beware, MAJOR spoilers ahead.
Amy Sherman-Palladino, the mastermind behind this masterpiece, has famously been holding on to the “last four words” since the show’s conception. At the conclusion of Fall, we finally heard them: Rory’s pregnant. And, chances are it’s Logan’s.
I think that that is the most perfect ending we could have hoped for. It leaves room for there to be more should Netflix, the cast, and the writers see fit. But, it also acts as the closure to one rotation of life cycle and leaves their world, again, able to continue on without us.
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Photos: Entertainment Weekly and Netflix