Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life Review
By Carly Twehous
Stars Hollow, Connecticut and the spunky mother-daughter duo of Lorelei and Lorelei (Rory) Gilmore immediately captured the hearts of viewers way back in 2000, when it first aired. Back then, Rory was a high school sophomore, who always had her nose in a book, and Lorelei was a fast-talking, coffee-guzzling single mother and hero to all.
Over the course of seven hilarious, heart-breaking, emotionally engaging, and honest seasons, the audience watched Rory grow up and Lorelei learn to let go. Season seven ended with Lorelei and Rory, both recently single, at Rory’s graduation from Yale, with her whole future in front of her. (Spoiler. Oops.)
It might sound like it, but Gilmore Girls has never really been your average chick-flick.
Flash forward to 2016 and we’re back in Stars Hollow for a year in the life of the Gilmore Girls. It’s pretty much the same: Lorelei is drinking coffee at Luke’s, Kirk is trying to make a buck with his own genius rip-off ride-share service, Ooober, and Tayler Doosey is parading around town, complaining about the sewage system.
For a moment, it’s easy to believe nothing’s changed in the past ten years in this fairy-tale town in Connecticut.
Except Rory shows up, fresh off a plane from London, and suddenly we see a very different picture. Rory’s living a double-life that her mother—her best friend—knows nothing about. She’s in a mess of a relationship with Logan Huntsberger, her rich, high-and-mighty college boyfriend, who’s set to inherit his father’s wealth… so long as he marries someone of equal stature and not the likes of Rory Gilmore. Rory’s lost track of her dream of being a world-class journalist and, despite a one-time publication, the only job she can scrounge up is developing a biography of a high-society British feminist (brilliantly played by Alex Kingston), who’s only merit is a strange metaphor about a whale and a rabbit.
Lorelei’s not quite in paradise either, despite the fact that she’s finally going steady with Luke Danes, the hunky diner owner. Following her father’s death, Lorelei has had a rather rough go of it with her mother, the classy and elegant Emily Gilmore. Though their relationship has always been rocky, ever since Lorelei got pregnant with Rory at the age of sixteen, her and Emily find themselves in such an irreconcilable state that they wind up in family counselling.
Through everyone’s faults and failings, both the characters and the audience are faced with the strange, haunting nostalgia of wanting to return to the past, but a complete inability to do so. Rory and Lorelei are frightfully trapped in 2016 and even the Stars Hollow gazebo fails to bring anyone back to the days of flip-phones, Friday night dinners, and dating Jared Padalecki.
Sure, they can visit the sights… take a stroll through Chilton Hall and pick up Red Vines at Doosey’s. They can even put on a musical that’s definitely not a rip-off of Hamilton about the history of Stars Hollow, but it’s not enough.
All it amounts to is digging up ghosts when life is flying forward all around you.
Gilmore Girls has always been about growing up and moving on, ever since the very beginning. That’s the brilliance of it, because it’s the one thing that no one wants to do. Life moves on. Life blows up around you, and even if you go back to the very beginning, nothing will ever be the same.
Returning home, after you’ve escaped Small-town, USA, carved out a life for yourself that the people in the small town will never understand… Well, it’s something of a supernatural experience. The people are still there, the faces are the same, the landmarks and hallmarks are all there, and there’s the same paint chip in your bedroom wall that’s been there since 1997, but, man, everything feels a little off.
Somewhere along the lines, everybody grew up and even Luke Danes was unable to keep cellphones and Wi-Fi signals out of his diner and his town. Even if she’s the one who left to pursue wild and awesome dreams, Rory Gilmore sees the ghosts of Stars Hollow and maybe it breaks her heart just a little bit. Nostalgia’s always bittersweet.
Inevitably, for the audience and for the Gilmore Girls, life moves on and sooner or later, someone’s got to snap out of the past and start dealing with the present.
And, man, don’t that hurt? But they’re Gilmores and Gilmores are strong and are not to be trifled with. Lorelei snaps out of it and takes what she wants and finally gets around to asking Luke to marry her. Emily takes a while, but recovers from her grief enough to repair her relationship with her daughter and make a final break from the high-society snobbish-ness that had consumed her life. Rory takes a chance, falls on her face, and then comes up with a genius plan.
She wrote her own story, and that of her mother, and her grandmother, because it’s the story that’s carved into her soul and one that allows her to grow up and remember at the same time.
Maybe it’s just a little bit perfect, because, when it comes down to it, we’re all stories in the end, right?
A year in the life of the Gilmore Girls is laced with heartbreak and nostalgia, hope, repentance, and Kirk doing ridiculous things. It’s full of klinking whiskey glasses with Jess Mariano, and marriage proposals, and perfect endings all tied up with a little bow. It’s everything we could have hoped for and more.
And let’s be honest here: those last four words couldn’t have been any more perfect.