Sunday, 27 November 2016
Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life review - a trash fire with few redeeming qualities
The Gilmore Girls revival - we've all been waiting for it, wanting to revisit Stars Hollow, hang out with our favourite characters (Emily and Paris, for what it's worth), see who Rory ends up (#TeamJess).
Well, I'm here to tell you the wait was not worth it. Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life - made up of four episodes by the show's creators Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino - is a trash fire with few redeeming qualities. It's horrible and awful, and it features terrible characters who act in terrible ways. In short, it's ruined the original Gilmore Girls forever.
Warning, there are spoilers ahead for all four episodes...
The best part of the revival could have been about the way Emily, Lorelai and Rory dealt with the grief of losing Richard. Indeed, for me the most moving part was in Fall, when Lorelai called Emily to finally share her favourite memory of Richard - it was emotional and just felt right for both characters.
Unfortunately, everything that came before ruined that, not least Lorelai and Rory's complete disregard for Emily, who has just lost the man she's been married to for 50 years. Instead of making sure they spend time with Emily, check in with her, invite her to do things with them, they are completely absorbed in their own lives.
Lorelai, unforgiveably, wrecks Richard's funeral by sharing ridiculous, mean stories about him. I know she's grieving, but I found this disrespectful towards Emily and Richard, and disrespectful to the Lorelai of the original, who I don't think would ever have acted this way in such a situation. And to then bed in, have a go at her mother and refuse to apologise or see how Emily is doing for MONTHS afterwards is just awful behaviour. Lorelai has Luke, she has her job, she has Stars Hollow. Her mother has no one but her servants (more on them later).
And Rory, let's not try and pretend Rory is any better. SHE LEFT RICHARD'S FUNERAL EARLY to fly to London, where she is doing no work and having an affair with Logan. This is cruel behaviour, yet everyone lets her get away with it because it's Rory and she's so wonderful.
As a very minor point, how come Jason turned up to Richard's funeral, yet Christopher couldn't be arsed to be there?
I put career in quotation marks because Rory doesn't seem to be doing any work. She's written a few pieces here and there, and one New Yorker article that everyone adores for some weird reason. Anyone ever think the New Yorker piece was so good because of its subject? After all, none of the rest of Rory's work seems to garner such praise.
I'm a journalist, and I know plenty of freelance journalists, and if they operated the way Rory did, they would be living on the streets because there's no way they'd ever get any work. Why does she have no ideas beyond a book that Naomi Shropshire pitched to her? And the whole Naomi Shropshire plot proves Rory has no journalistic judgement - everyone keeps telling her Naomi is unpredictable, and Rory sees it for herself, yet she still pursues the book even though the story is not worth it. And the way she deals with Naomi towards the end of their relationship is unprofessional.
In fact, Rory is just plain unprofessional all the time. When she goes to talk to Sandee of SandeeSays she's completely unprepared. She's clearly done no research on the website, and just expects Sandee to take her on because she's Rory Gilmore. I don't care if Sandee has been chasing her, you still go in prepared and ready to pitch yourself as an excellent employee. And the phone call with Sandee afterwards is cringe-worthy, and shows Rory throwing all her toys out of a pram like the child she clearly is.
And the piece about lines. Who takes their mum to work? Who falls asleep interviewing someone? Who spends their day as a journalist wandering around NY in heels with a tiny bag, no pen and no notepad? Someone who's a crap journalist, that's who. By the end of Summer my notes just said "TERRIBLE JOURNALIST".
Gilmore Girls has always been eyewateringly white. I could buy that in Stars Hollow there are only a few people of colour (although the Kims and Michel were always treated as novelties, which is a whole other issue), but it became a real area of concern when Rory went to Yale and everyone was still white. The revival had the opportunity to correct some of the wrongs of the original. Instead, it went full tilt racist. Yep, I said it.
For a start, there are Emily's family of servants. I understand she doesn't want to speak to anyone because she's grieving the loss of Richard, but the "funny" plot about not knowing what language they speak is racist and disrespectful, no matter that eventually Berta and her family become Emily's family because her own daughter and granddaughter are trash.
The only other new character of colour with a decent speaking part is the woman Lorelai meets when she goes on her Wild experience. She's the one character of colour who seems to be treated okay by the show.
Apart from, all the other new characters of colour we see are servants, drivers, chefs who get fired by Lorelai, or people whose job it is to remain completely silent and drone-like (there are some staffers at SandeeSays for example) yet still be highly visible, just so Gilmore Girls can say it has characters of colour.
I know this show was made pre-Trump, but the creators are completely out of touch with the narrative around race that's ongoing in America, and it catches horribly in the throat.
This was one of the worst parts of the whole revival. At the beginning of Summer we join Lorelai and Rory hanging by the pool, where they proceed to spend a good five minutes fat shaming a variety of characters. It's disgusting and I was filled with rage at the whole scene (so much so that the enforced child labour - including of a child of colour - paled in comparison). The Palladinos should hang their heads in shame.
So. Much. Privilege.
Look, I don't think I can talk about the scenes with the Life and Death Brigade, because I'll never be ready, but they were an illustration of how this show views privilege - as something to either be celebrated, or completely ignored. There's no explicit acknowledgement of the privileges Rory and Lorelai (and many other characters) enjoy, but Rory and Lorelai's privilege is evident in so many scenes, and it's distasteful.
The money is one thing. Emily and Richard were always embarrassingly rich, as was Logan's family. And Chris came into money as well and then started spending it like no tomorrow. I assume it's Rory's trust funds that enable her to fly back and forth to London with alarming regularity. The wealth is not the privilege I find objectionable. (Although -
Paris and Doyle: "Our house is so impossibly huge because we're so rich and successful that our (foreign) nannies keep quitting on us. Poor us, in our massive, expensive mansion in NY.")
Rather, it's the way Rory and Lorelai put themselves before everyone else, think they're far above everyone else, and treat people horribly, and everyone lets them because they're pretty and chatty and funny, and oh, they're just Rory and Lorelai, you know? They're cute, let's let them get away with it because they're just our Rory and Lorelai. That's the privilege that sticks.
Well, as Emily would say, bullshit.
The way Rory and Lorelai treat people is awful. I mean, poor Paul. I assume the plot with Rory having a forgettable boyfriend was meant to be funny, but it's really, really not. It's mean, and born from Rory being in a position where everyone wants her and it's okay to treat them terribly because they'll keep coming back.
One of the ways in which Lorelai's privilege manifests itself is the way that she just keeps throwing chefs out of her kitchen to further the pain she feels through Sookie's loss, yet there are no consequences to her actions. More celebrity chefs keep coming in, and she keeps being rude to them, yet gets off scott-free.
And rudeness. Why are some of the characters on this show so rude? The scene with Naomi accosting waiters in the private members' clubs (that much of the London action takes place in private members' club and expensive restaurants is another illustration of the privilege Rory has) is just plain rude.
I was a little worried that we were going to get a cameo from Lena Dunham, given how many times she was mentioned. It's a true illustration of how blind Rory and Lorelai (and the Palladinos) are to their privilege that they cite Dunham - the embodiment of white female privilege - as someone they love.
Rory and Logan
Ugh. Why, why, why? I don't get any of this storyline. Why do the Palladinos love Logan so much? Logan has always been a terrible human, and it's no surprise he'd cheat, but why is Rory still someone who would have an affair? Did she learn no lessons from her previous experiences? Why do the Palladinos think we'd feel for Rory, instead of thinking she's a trash human being who has no compunction about hurting people by cheating on them, unless of course she is the one being hurt?
I just can't.
And the rest
There's no way I can cover everything I thought was terrible, but here are a few more things:
-all of Luke and Lorelai's communication problems still exist. How in nine years have they never spoken about having children? And when Luke says he's fine with not having kids, why does Lorelai still steamroller over him and take him to the clinic?
-why did Lorelai tell Luke he'd never get to go to his own child's graduation, even though they'd been talking about April 30 seconds before? And why did Luke say it was okay, because he went to Rory's graduation, even though they'd been talking about April 30 seconds before? Why did April not get to go to Luke and Lorelai's wedding? She's not mentioned in Luke's list of family that Lorelai spends a lot of time going over. (Neither is Jess.)
-and why was Emily not in town for Luke and Lorelai's wedding? We know she knew about it and was on the guest list, so why was she in Nantucket the night before? Wouldn't she have been in Stars Hollow?
-poor Kirk - the town got together to get him a pig so he and his girlfriend wouldn't have children? Where does the town get off? Who are they to decide? This is eugenics, people.
-that is not how you pronounce Aeschylus.
-how is Paris already in charge of a fertility clinic, and apparently so good at her job? She's four years out of medical school, she wouldn't even have finished her training by then surely? And how is Paris both a qualified lawyer and doctor by the age of 32?
-when Rory calls Logan the UK's country code wrong. Why did no one on this show check? It's not a difficult piece of research to do, but I guess it shows just how lazily made the whole revival was.
-I'm so disappointed Lorelai backtracked on the book. Saying no initially was one of the few decent things she's done this whole series, because Rory was completely unreasonable about just expecting her mum to be okay with it. Also, it's a bit rich that Rory says this is the thing she's meant to do, considering the idea was all Jess'. We already know Rory has no ideas. (Also, this is just a crap plot - Dawson's Creek already did it way back when.)
-I used to be #TeamJess. Now I'm #TeamJessButNotWithRoryBecauseShe'sATrashHuman.
-why was the Stars Hollow: The Musical bit soooo long? Actually, I know why. It's because the creators are lazy and they just wanted to fill space instead of staying true to the characters and writing something meaningful. I ended up skipping most of it because I didn't need to watch it to understand the metaphor of Lorelai then finding herself through listening to a song.
-I know I said I couldn't talk about the Life and Death Brigade but... "Look at us, we're super rich and fun and we still haven't grown up and think it's okay to BREAK INTO A GROCERY STORE." Like, Rory, this is your hometown, why do you think it's fun to play around and break into Doose's? Do you have no respect?
-Poor Sookie. It seems like we were meant to dislike her for abandoning Lorelai, but it just felt so untrue to the character that all I could think was that it was the Palladinos dislike for Melissa McCarthy manifesting itself - I don't know what went down there, but McCarthy's involvement was initially denied, until she said she hasn't been invited.
And I'm done. For now. Join me in the comments and tell me what you hated, or indeed, loved.