Monday, December 5, 2016

Something Good From 2016: Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life

This year has been amazingly awful for me. I won't bother to enumerate, nor will I pretend there aren't still 3+ weeks to go. But I talked to a non-TV friend (commence eye rolls) over the weekend and I mentioned watching Gilmore Girls as a post-election cocoon and how fortunate it was that we got 6 more hours of the show as a sweet postscript to the series, about a decade after its conclusion.

Side note: The Apprentice began after the first couple of seasons of GG and became sufficiently part of pop culture that I thought it would make for an excellent season-long series of jokes to have Paris compete on the show (or a knock-off). After this past October, I'm even more sure that was a brilliant idea and that I am (was and will remain) a genius.

Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life does not assuage much of the shit storm (on-going) of 2016 (fuck, it isn't even a fair trade for losing Alan Rickman), but I think it's probably good for me to try to find something like a silver lining where I can. It is so much more than a sentimental "Rory's getting married" reunion movie (spoiler alert: she's not) a la the Bradys or some Facts of Life-type holiday special where everyone's back but Jo. Actually, GG gives us a double dose of Jo, in giving more visibility to its female mechanic (but shhh, spoilers).

With the remarkable fourth season of Arrested Development in 2013 (a dizzying spirograph of a story that would never have made it to network TV); excellent comics-to-screen adaptations of Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage; and one of the year's other strange high points for me, Bojack Horseman, Netflix has become a source for really inspired, complicated works. Also they have a new Full House.

Here's what I loved about the reunion (and keep in mind that I apparently fizzled out before the final season since I didn't know Christopher and Lorelai got married in France):
  • Paris, easily one of the best characters on the show and one I expected to be back without question, was back and as Paris-y as ever, even if her whole raison d'etre seemed flimsy, stupid even. Still, in enumerating how she came to be in her place in the world, they described Paris perfectly. Actually, it doesn't hold up to scrutiny so don't think too hard about her finishing law school, medical school, having 2 children and starting a successful business in a mere 9 years. They did miss an opportunity to have at least one of those post-grad degrees be from Harvard, thus restoring the Gellar legacy. And yes, I know her last name. 
  • Doyle, exactly as Paris, just a bit less on the extent.
  • Kirk, he is annoying as fuck but once you embrace the trope, "a film by Kirk" is fucking great.
  • Taylor, and the whole gay innuendo at the town meeting. Also having a town meeting. 
  • Emily, although I'm not sure I liked how the character's story played out, I'll admit that her clash with Lorelai over the funeral story was so perfect that nothing else really mattered for me.
  • Luke and Dean, they really weren't all that three-dimensional on the show, but they looked good in flannel, so continuing that seemed fine here. Actually, I thought Dean and Sookie having short, simple scenes with their primary costars worked really well. I'm happy with a few minutes of simplicity and great acting (not that I don't love Paris, but c'mon). “You taught me what safe feels like” is some really nice dialog.
  • Paul Anka and Paul Anka, obviously.
  • Louise Goffin, Carole King's daughter and the other singer on the show's theme song, as the rouge troubador. It made me wish Sam Phillips had made an appearance (did she ever? [she was in 2006's "Partings"; one of the town's many would-be troubadors flocking to Stars Hollow to fill the void]... she was also Katya in one of the unnecessary Die Hard movies).
  • Jess, and the role he played in one of the key Rory plotlines (as opposed to the speculative role he played). It maps to how he motivated her back to Yale. BG John once asked me if I was Team Dean or Team Jess (before there was even a Team Logan) and I remember being torn. For some reason the way things played out for Rory with Dean around season 4 or 5 was both surprising and comforting (probably because she's white [which everyone in the cast is, aside from the one plus the Asians]--had she been played by Eva Mendes I'd probably have characterized it as ghetto even though Eva Mendes is probably from a much nicer neighborhood that the perfectly nice white subdivision in Lawrenceville where I spent my high school and college years... wait, is Eva Mendes white?). 
  • Mr. Kim, because I think we all assumed he was deceased.
I didn't miss Max Medina (because I never liked Max Medina), and I thought Jason and Christopher were given suitable presence respectively. While I was mostly #TeamChristopher (and partially #TeamDigger), “You let her do it” was a fair summary. It's the awkward, unsettled moments of the show that always felt real. I missed Dave Ragowski and am still not sure whether that was actually Tristan.
But the show failed Lane. She deserves more. So much more. She deserves what Paris got--both in terms of the size of the role and in giving the character some success beyond the dead end she'd been written into. Hell, have her running the town instead of Taylor or something.

In addition to the Paris storyline, I thought the musical subplot and the Wild subplot were both triffles (the musical was filler better spent showing Lane's awesome life; Wild just seems silly given Lorelai, although that was the point so never mind). That they included so many actors from Parenthood in that part of the segments was fucking awesome.

I was trying to explain the show to the non-TV person and I was able to double down on convincing her when I pointed out that the penultimate scene in the show's finale was played out to the Mighty Lemon Drops' "Inside Out"... cause fuck yeah!

I read something today that suggested that Rory was foreshadowing the ending when she asked Christopher about letting Lorelai raise her alone. Before I read that I would have guessed Jess but under scrutiny there's no reason why I should think that. But it does confirm #TeamJess for me. If Logan is Christopher and Jess the Luke proxy it's kinda perfect and I'm not sure I want that. I want Emily letting her maid (HER MAID) and extended family live with her at the Vagina Shack while she harpoons whales because you don't see that coming.

If this year has taught me anything, it's that you do not see shit coming.

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