After almost ten years off the air, Gilmore Girls has returned. Everyone is older, nobody’s much wiser, and Stars Hollow is thinking about switching to a sewer system. I’m so happy we’re back.
The Netflix iteration of Gilmore Girls is either four 90-minute episodes or eight regular-sized episodes, depending on how you think about it. Creator Amy Sherman-Palladino, back after a contractual dispute ousted her after Season Six, is going with the 90-minute idea: “Winter,” like later episodes, feels like one long episode rather than two short ones, and—in true serialization style—it introduces new questions but doesn’t answer them.
Especially the big question: what’s Rory doing? She’s never been a master at wise life choices, and she seems to be truly struggling with the mid-thirties slump that I’m sure many of us have experienced. She’s a writer, which means she’s struggling. (Thanks, internet.) She’s either homeless or living la vida peripatetic, depending on who’s describing it. She has a two-year-long relationship with a man neither she nor her mother can remember, and she’s cheating on him with Logan.
(Ugh! Not Logan!)
Throughout the episode, Rory says she has “irons in the fire,” which is code for “nothing yet, but I’m grinning through the fear.” As Billie would say, this week’s Most Obvious Symbolism is the “lucky outfit” Rory can’t find. But she has plenty of places to look, which is telling: she is storing boxes with Lorelai and Luke, Lane, Emily, and even Logan. She has a strong support system, her “superproud” people are rooting for her, and I wish she’d be more open about her struggles.
But she gets that reticence from her mother. Lorelai may cultivate a flighty, insouciant persona, but she inherited a WASPy stoicism from her mother. It’s no wonder that she’s having anxiety nightmares about dirty bathrooms. Does she want kids? Is she sick of being in a long-term relationship and all the little in-jokes (Felix, Oscar) that reveal familiarity and, perhaps, boredom? Lorelai has many wonderful things, including a steady relationship with Luke, but where does she go from here?
That’s the question haunting Emily Gilmore, too. In the wake of Richard’s death, Emily has to figure out how to be something other than a wife—a position she held for over 50 years. (Holy cow.) She can KonMari her way through her grief, but she also needs to figure out who to be and what that new self means for her relationship with her daughter, which is, as always, fraught with resentment.
The flashback to the funeral emphasized just how much the loss of Edward Herrmann has affected this new set of episodes. When Lorelai was unable to think of a story to tell about her father, it was awkward. But the worst part was the fight between Emily and Lorelai in the kitchen: they are both in touch with their emotions, I think, but unable to express them to each other in a way that doesn’t drive the other one crazy.
The Gilmore women are the heart of this show, but it’s the supporting characters I was happiest to see. There’s something relaxing about their brand of wacky, and the pull of nostalgia is strong. Michel is married, and his husband wants kids. Gypsy still doesn’t sugarcoat. Taylor is Taylor, and Kirk is Kirk, but now he has a pig. Paris and Doyle got married, had kids, and are in the middle of what I’m sure will be a miserable divorce. We got some new supporting players, too, including Alex Kingston’s delightful lush Naomi Shropshire.
Having rewatched Gilmore Girls earlier this year, I turned on this episode most excited to see where the characters wound up and to immerse myself in the quirky, fast-paced world that Sherman-Palladino excels at creating. I wound up having more emotions than I expected—the fight between Lorelai and Emily made me cry—but I’m also incredibly impressed by how perfectly each actor has returned to their character, and each line of dialogue feels true to this immersive reality.
Tacos and Tater Tots:
• Kirk and the Ooo-ber joke was funny, then less funny, and then funny again when it came full circle and he hated hearing the word, too.
• Lane describing how her husband Zack just looks like his father was hilarious. I kept thinking “Yeah, because he lived in a world of supernatural beings for a few years.”
• Was Lorelai wearing a dress covered in dinosaurs?
• Apparently the dog Paul Anka is played by the same dog. How sweet is that?
• Paris complained that Doyle became a screenwriter. It’s true, he did: and he’s darn good at it.
Is this worthy of a four out of four Stars Hollows? I think so.
Josie Kafka reviews The Vampire Diaries, Game of Thrones, and various other things that take her fancy. She is a full-time cat servant and part-time rogue demon hunter. (What's a rogue demon?)
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