Four Seasons with the Gilmore Girls
Full of spoilers. Go watch all 7 seasons and then A Year in the Life if you haven’t.
There’s more than something about the Gilmore Girls. I have no delusions about the fact that the best role I could have bagged on the show is the Blue-Eyed girl’s brown best friend and I don’t think I blindly went along for the ride, letting it flood my brains with the hard charm of American soft power. I’ve lived in America so I know for sure that it was not What I Was Searching For All Along, but because the show had such an influence on me, I almost think it’s the reverse. I’m Americanized because of the show, not the other way around. There’s a difference, maybe one only I can perceive, but it’s there. I used to shop at Trader Joe’s in the U.S., and it has its own version of pop tarts as I only realized much later, so when I actually came across a box of original pop tarts in a supermarket, it was a heartwarming moment. A comforting reminder of the everyday sustenance of the OGGs.
I just finished watching A Year in Life on a sunny Sunday at my parents’ house in my hometown, and when Lorelai gets out the box of pop tarts when Rory is ready to talk to her again in the final episode/season- the advanced video resolution lending added vibrancy to the blue box- it was just as heartwarming. I have no desire to eat like Lorelai or Rory or even Emily. Maybe Luke, if he turned vegan, but it’s the Gilmore Girls. They are a junk-guzzling, privilege-swatting pair of brats, but they’re also a Force of Nature. Rory’s dad and everyone else in the show who acknowledges it are just calling it like it is. Besides, I think their shocking eating habits were almost a deliberate countercultural sortie against saladeers and the Hollywood bunch. The Bush Sisters included. Donna Reed too, even the resurrected one.
Between the two leads, I was always so much more smitten with Lorelai. She didn’t have that angelic Rory baby face. She had caffeinated, rhinestone-lined spunk. She Was, and is, It. I can’t think of one woman in serialized American television that had more of an iconic personality except Lucy Ricardo. Perhaps I’m more Rory at surface level- ambiverted nerd with a fascination for distant war zones, but I’ve always dreamed of the possibility of being Lorelai. Happy with her Independence Inn in Stars Hollow. Talk about names laden with meaning. Finding Luke. But most of all, her ability to just belt out endless one-liners packed with pop culture similes and metaphors regardless of the other person’s bewilderment, or annoyance, or pure hatred of you. Living your life on your wit. Through heartache and disappointment. The important things.
She made coffee iconic. She made coffee one-liners iconic. So much quirkier than being a boozehound, and a more acceptable trait to pass down to your daughter as part of her inheritance. She made being a pain look effortlessly cute. Same reason she never had to stand in line for legendary donuts or shoes. Of course it was disappointing to see what she had done to her face in the reunion series. The way the Gilmore Girls looked was a big part of their ‘presentation’ in the seven seasons. Seeing Lorelai injected with plastic obsession and Rory aging rapidly in her mid-thirties takes some mental adjustment-but at least that part is nature-stamped.
It was great to see the aged version of the Gilmore Girls as a whole though. It’s not just our bodies- our voices change, our dreams and reality. There’s a wonderful line that Emily gets to say: “Sometimes, life forces your hand.” Grief humanizes Emily, if you will. She mothers a whole family of Berta’s- Gypsy doubling as the big-haired, slightly clueless but loving maid who apparently speaks the more obscure dialect of Spanish. Richard is gone and the maids no longer rotate out every other week because they walked too loudly or put walnuts in the salad. There’s no time to dismiss Berta. Easier to use sign language to communicate and let things be. She can mouth off to her humbug DAR buddies in her Emily way and leave the DAR. She takes perverse pleasure in her job at the whaling museum in Martha’s vineyard. She misses Richard and kisses his gigantic portrait hanging in her new address before taking her drink out into the lawn to enjoy it in the light of a lantern, toasting the new air around her. She’s content, happy. Sometimes, life forces your hand. Even a Force of Nature’s.
This is the second time I’m watching A Year in the Life. I related with Rory’s arc even the first time I saw it, maybe even more so then perhaps because my sense of professional frustration was greater even though I had a full-time job. I appreciate Rory’s arc. I was no longer as peeved by the many small and mid-sized ways in which this series didn’t match up to the original during the second viewing. No longer as displeased by the self-ref/v/erential nods to fast-talking Gilmoreness at the town gazebo in the first scene- as if they knew that their celebrity status had rendered a Fourth Wall unnecessary, no longer as exasperated by that incredulous musical number put on by the Life and Death Brigade (but pretty close), to say nothing of the appearance of Sutton Foster as the world’s most beautiful, and hyped up, woman. Thank God she didn’t play Lorelai. Now I’ve lost my train of thought in the true Gilmore fashion. I still have more in common with Rory, and I like the parting note of self-illumination that the creators offered us by way of popular advice- write what you know and write it well. Chocolate chocolate chocolate/intravenous shots of coffee well. But it was Emily’s arc that stayed with me. Grief is frightening, even when whispered or glimpsed at. If a woman as steadfast and fastidious as Emily can wake up at noon, and allow a TV to be installed in her living room-not necessarily in that order- I better start living my life with a little more care. Always with a little help from my friends, and family, and the Gilmore Girls. Maybe Jess will be Rory’s Luke when her kid grows up.
The sun has gone down now, and will rise again tomorrow.
PS. A gem of philosophical inquiry by TJ in the original series. I’m paraphrasing: “Think about a lap. A lap is a funny thing. It’s there when you’re sitting. It’s gone when you stand up. So…where does it go?”