Amy Sherman-Palladino can’t get singing and dancing out of her “bun” head.
There was so much to digest while binge-watching Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. I had questioned whether I would watch it as fast as I did (for fear of having too much of a good thing at once of course). Unfortunately, watching them all within 24 hours made everything all the more clearer: A Year in the Life isn’t good.
How could this happen? The original creator was back in charge! This is her vision! But then I thought of another genius. A man that has defined our generation and created something that will outlive us all. His name is George Lucas. He created Star Wars. He also gave us the Star Wars prequels… Jar Jar Binks, y’all. Also, it wasn’t the best when Dan Harmon came back to Community after that fourth season either, but I digress…
Besides the revelation of just how awful a character is and possibly always was (Rory, it’s *RORY.) the biggest miss-step Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life makes is time.
“Time is a flat circle. Everything we have done, or will do, we will do over and over and over again—forever.”
Isn’t that the truth, Rust. It’s been nine years since we’ve seen these characters, but they are making decisions and acting as if this was literally the next season of the show in the same year in 2007. These are the actions that all of these characters should have made a decade ago. Rory, Lorelai, Michel, Sookie, and Luke. The only noticeable difference of time passing is in three characters:
1) Paris having children and kicking ass at everything as the business woman we knew she would be.
2) Dean having multiple kids and being married.
3) The passing of Richard Gilmore (the impeccable Edward Herrmann) and how Emily copes with that.
Remove those characters and there would be no difference in all of the other characters since 2007. The only difference would be the weight loss of Miss Patty and that’s only a physical difference!
It works if Rory is a 23 year old going out into the world for the first time. At 32, it’s just lazy and entitled and her own fault. It’s sad. Her announcing she’s pregnant as a woman in her 30’s packs all of the emotional punch of playing a game of tic-tac-toe with an 8 year old. You know the moves and can see the outcome a mile away.
The similarities with her mother aren’t there because Lorelai had Rory at half her age and went out on her own without her parents silver spoon in her mouth anymore (but really, Lorelai was an entitled brat too if we’re being honest). Rory’s not going to miss out on opportunities because she’s pregnant. She’s already missed them in the nine years that have passed. Why? Beats me. Rory is the product of her own doing. She was raised properly, she’s educated, and if she ever needed money or a place to live she would have it. So those final four words fall flat.
And that’s where Amy Sherman-Palladino really dropped the ball.
She may not have been a part of Gilmore Girls the last two seasons, or even watched them from what I’ve read, but she owes it not only to her fans, but to the characters she’s created. Luke already went through the motions of a diner empire and had the same relationship struggles with Lorelai. When we repeat these same stories after so long we become tireless and don’t you expect more?
Let’s talk about Stars Hollow: The Musical.
Besides Rory sucking, this is the one thing that everyone seems to agree on. People hate it. It’s long, serves no purpose to the plot, and is completely self indulgent.
And I agree with all of that… besides the hating it part.
I actually think it’s my favorite scene from A Year in the Life and I’ll tell you why. This scene is where Amy Sherman-Palladino’s heart is. It’s musicals. Song and dance theater. She hasn’t gotten Bunheads out of her own bunhead. Broadway star and Bunheads alum Sutton Foster (Younger) is full of energy and talent as Violet in Stars Hollow: The Musical. Along with Christian Borle from Smash the two are dancing pilgrims and soldiers and lovers as the story of Stars Hollow unfolds. This is the most fun of any of the scenes in all of Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. It may be long, but you didn’t laugh at ‘Love Revolution’ like me? Wasn’t it, well, fun?
Could we have spent more time advancing the plot instead? Of course we could have! But here’s where I’m okay with the musical: At this point in the series we already knew the plot wasn’t advancing at the same breakneck speeds as the classic Gilmore dialogue. It was repetitive and meandering if anything, and the irony wasn’t lost on most of the fans from the reactions I’ve seen. Would you rather see a long version of the musical that’s weird and original or spend time with Lorelai going through a brought on existential crisis. Again.
Or would you rather be with the lazy and entitled, Rory?
Someone that throughout an entire year of the series learns nothing and in nine years has somehow learned even less. She wrote one or two freelance articles in a decade, comes underprepared to a job interview that she believes is beneath her. When she gets an assignment from a bigger company she literally falls asleep in the middle of it before she has a one night stand with a source she interviews.
Rory is the absolute WORST.
So, yes, I’d much rather be listening to the Stars Hollow musical in the town this little snot grew up in that treats her like royalty and that she refuses to say she lives in again. “I’m not back!” It’s that or we could spend time with her complaining about how she has no money, but can totally fly across the globe to specifically bone her engaged ex boyfriend, while she’s been dating poor Paul for over two years.
And Paul, sure he was forgettable, but think of his few scenes and how super nice that guy was. That old tool he gave Luke? What a guy! If Rory wasn’t having an affair and cheating on him (or lazy, entitled, selfish) then I would totally think Paul being the butt of a joke was more funny. But now it just comes off as being mean. Cruel even. That’s not Sherman-Palladino’s strong suit. Remember the guilt and remorse Rory felt for having an affair with a married man while she was in college? Where did that character go?
So why on earth did Sherman-Palladino make the choices she did for Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life? Not a rhetorical, I seriously would love to know.
And keep in mind that Lorelai was only able to start her journey of actually figuring her situation out from the performance she sees of Violet’s ‘Unbreakable’ that was added to the musical. The power of song and meaningful lyrics is able to do more for this character in three minutes than what I’m assuming is the same amount of heart to hearts with Rory, Sookie, Luke, and the occasional moment with her father and even Emily she usually would have since we’ve last seen her.
**Where do we go from here?
Does anyone have any further interest in the world of Gilmore Girls? If so, why? I’ve watched the series a handful of times like many of you have. It was something that was comforting and reminded me of good times, but it was also, you know, good. Not Veronica Mars revisiting good, but I love it. After A Year in the Life I don’t have any further interest in the story unless it’s a spin-off about Emily Gilmore in Nantucket or Jess walking around giving people good advice. I mentioned in my Fall recap that I thought more Gilmore was on the way because they couldn’t end the series on an Angel-like cliffhanger. Could they?
After more thought, I think Amy Sherman-Palladino could leave it alone. Why? She just doesn’t care like she once did. After the extended Stars Hollow musical, the guest appearances from Bunheads stars, the Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride influenced Life and Death Brigade sequence, and the other music inspired moments, it’s clear that Sherman-Palladino needs to do a full-fledged musical. Or get a revival of Bunheads in the works. I’m fine with either.
*To be clear, Alexis Bledel is amazing and radiant and as gorgeous as ever. None of this ill will is meant towards her or her performance as Rory Gilmore.
** Speaking of musicals, Once More With Feeling is the best. My personal favorite episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (from my least favorite season).