I love Gilmore Girls. As a man, that gets ridicule from certain people. That's, of course, totally fine. I don't care what television shows people adore as long as it's meaningfully balanced in their life and isn't a core component of their identity. Content with just loving a show and leaving it at that? Great, sign me up (no matter what it is)!
With my love for Gilmore Girls, I was understandably very hyped when Netflix announced that they were doing a revival. The fact that Amy Sherman-Palladino was heading it didn't matter to me since I was just fine with the final season of the show. The show itself had been going off the rails since before she left so I suppose I never chalked up its decline to her departure. But... more Gilmore Girls. They weren't picking it up where they left off, they were moving ahead in time equivalent to real life. It's an idea I am very keen on and unfortunately do not see often in the television world.
This hype brought me disappointment. I really, really, really did not enjoy Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. It was bad. They ruined the main characters, the jokes were awful, and it just seemed pointless. It was not an adequate addition to the Gilmore Girls timeline. It was just bad. When I read that everyone's favourite episode was Fall, the last one, I wondered why.
I know why. It's their favourite because that meant it was finally over.
The below should be considered spoiler heavy.
They Ruined Rory Gilmore
Many people would say that Rory was a bad person during the main show. I'd disagree with that... but I would definitely agree with the claim in A Year in the Life (now abbreviated to AYITL). She was not a good person. What's worse is that the show portrayed her as good old Rory with absolutely no attention given to just how terrible she was being.
Cheating on Paul (is that the guy's name?) with Logan was treated as just a regular thing. No big deal. When it's revealed to Lorelai, she's fine with it. She's not mad. She's not incensed. She's fine with her daughter cheating on her long-term boyfriend.
AYITL then tries to make you, the viewer, feel bad for Rory that Logan's girlfriend moved back home. Really? It's ridiculous. No. I am not going to feel bad for Rory. Rory made her bed and now she can sleep in it -- alone.
Lorelai Had No Purpose
This fact is interesting given that Lorelai lacking purpose was a big plot point in the latter half of the mini-series. But... that isn't what I mean. I mean the character, her placement in the 'story', has no point. You could remove Lorelai from the show and it would have either stayed the same or improved.
That should not be a reality when Lorelai is arguably the primary character, if not sharing the primary seat with Rory (who is awful).
The plot points about Emily, about the inn, about marrying Luke... it's all meaningless. None of it adds anything to her character. She's just there to be Lorelai and she doesn't do that very well. Like that scene with telling a story about Richard? What's up with that?
Old Characters Were Included Because of Being Old Characters
Gilmore Girls was enjoyed so thoroughly by thousands of viewers for years upon years for a large part due to Stars Hollow. It was a community. Lorelai and Rory were the main characters but you wanted to watch them interact with the community. Each supporting character had a purpose, they each had lives that existed outside of the main plot.
What's more is that these lives would develop as the plot did. The town would evolve and change, as did its people. They evolved gradually and with context, much as you'd see someone in your real community evolve.
This was not the case in AYITL. Most of the characters from the original show were included in AYITL but most of these inclusions felt empty. They were caricatures of their former characters instead of being those characters. You recognized their faces but not their personalities and their place in Stars Hollow.
The Best Characters Were Paris and Emily
Say what you want about the main characters and the lack of a reasonable story, but Paris and Emily did superb jobs in their roles. Paris did wane near the end but her performance, in general, was very strong. They made solid attempts at redeeming the mistakes of the writers as seen by Emily still giving her best with the nonsensical servant storyline and moving to Nantucket.
Most of the Story was Pointless
Which brings us to my next point. The vast majority of AYITL could be removed and nothing of value would be lost. Most of the things that happened in the last episode should have happened in the first episode, setting the stage for a heartfelt evolution of the characters we had come to love and admire.
This isn't what we got. Instead, we received three episodes and a half (movie length, mind you) of pure drivel. We received glimpses of the characters as a sort of update about their lives coupled with completely inane storylines that held no meaning or otherwise took away from the very same characters they're telling us to care about.
Insulting to Fans
The mini-series honestly felt like it was insulting you. It genuinely seemed like the writers saw all the fans, acknowledged them, and deliberately messed with the Gilmore Girls universe just to spite them. The moments of stereotypical Gilmore Girls were few and far between, with most scenes feeling more like parody caricatures.
They presented this and marketed it like a faithful continuation of the original Gilmore Girls. AYITL was the exact opposite. If this were released closer to the show's original air date, it would go down as the season that ruined it all (much like how many people consider season 7 to have done that, except even worse).
My facial expression while watching media is usually stone-faced. I'm unhappy to report that AYITL broke that streak as my face was contorted into an expression of bewilderment and disgust throughout all four episodes. I'm fortunate in that I divorced AYITL from Gilmore Girls before watching it, allowing me to see the original series in the positive light I did and still do to this day.
Doesn't Build to the Future
Fans wanted the revival to either build to the future (what happens next?) or to give a definitive end to the Gilmore Girls story. The revival did neither. While Rory did get pregnant, does it matter?
It's a serious question, as unfortunate as it may sound. They did their very best to alienate the viewers from Rory's character and then expected us to not only care about her pregnancy reveal, but to be excited for it. Why? Based on Rory's position in life, she will utterly ruin any child she births. I'm not looking forward to that idea; not only do I not agree that Rory would be in this position at this point in time, but I don't watch Gilmore Girls for the gritty hard-knock reality.
That's not why it's popular. That's not why it's loved. The writers shouldn't have insulted us by thinking we would line up for such a fate.
The Final Four Words
The final four words. "Mom, I am pregnant."
Don't get me wrong, it's a nice sentence. With a proper approach to the Gilmore Girls legacy, it might have been quite impactful too. Might even get a few tears.
But based on the foundation AYITL presented to us, and based on Rory's character, and based on the absurdly elongated hype about the darn thing, it's a very lackluster end and a very lackluster prospect for the series.
The idea of there being a "final four words" is ridiculous to begin with, but Amy Sherman-Palladino cited this aspect of the show as being a defining reason for returning and working with Netflix to get a revival mini-series produced. You would think, then, that they would do their very best to set up the mini-series for presenting this reveal.
They did the opposite. They did their very best to make these final four words as meaningless and laissez-faire as they possibly could.
In conclusion, ouch. Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life was so disappointing for me. This isn't a situation where there were a few glaring errors and it'd be fine if they were fixed. If I had the power to change the series to be more in line with what I think Gilmore Girls is, everything would be changed. Nothing as it was would be in the revised version. It is that bad, that disappointing, and that insulting.
They failed. It's really as simple as that. They failed at continuing the legacy, they failed at presenting the final four words in an endearing way, and they failed at reminding us why we love the show.
Netflix has teased another return of Gilmore Girls with speculation over Rory's baby and the baby's dad. I'm not excited. I don't care. Based on how Amy and her cabal of writers handled this return, I do not trust them with an official return of the show. They burned us.