A decade after the original “Gilmore Girls” series aired on TV, it was almost inevitable that the new web TV series streaming on Netflix – “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life” – was bound to please some fans but disappoint others. Beware — major spoiler alerts ahead!
Let’s face it – we all had hopes and expectations for what was going to happen to the three Gilmore girls: Rory (Alexis Bledel), Lorelai (Lauren Graham) and Emily (Kelly Bishop). Some wanted a continuation of the same story line and the same narrative, without any of them actually growing any older or wiser. But something was bound to happen in the intervening decade.
Here are a few of the plot lines that fans were watching carefully when “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life” debuted on November 25.
The biggest development, of course, was what was going to happen to Rory. When we last saw her, she was a 22-year-old freelance writer starting out in the world. Fans were split on what they thought was going to happen to her. Either she was going to make it really big – something that her mother Lorelai and the whole Gilmore family wanted to happen – or she was going to be caught up in the family’s secrets and misfortunes, and something was going to happen to her and prevent her from realizing her future ambitions.
And, indeed, what we found out after the special four-part series is that Rory at age 32 was very much the Rory of 22. She was still floundering somewhat in her career. Yes, she had some good clips and some good bylines, but she was never quite able to make everything turn out successfully. She was still looking for writing assignments, and not really making enough money to live on her own. For fans who thought she was going to become the famous editor of a big-time magazine or newspaper, this was obviously something they didn’t expect.
Rory’s romantic interests
If fans were a bit let down by how Rory’s career progressed in the intervening decade, you should see how they responded to the development of her romantic life. Fans were split in hoping for #TeamJess, #TeamLogan, or #TeamDean for the revival, and all three of Rory’s old love interests appeared in the revival, even if not in the way fans expected.
Rory had a weird, “no strings attached” relationship with Logan in all four revival episodes, even though Logan had a fiancée and Rory had a two-year relationship with some guy named Paul who served as the butt of many jokes. The revival characterizes Rory and Logan as people with very little concern for who they hurt in their lives. It was as if Rory’s romantic life had followed the same trajectory as her professional career – never quite achieving the goals everyone hoped for.
The role of Luke Danes as Rory’s stepdad
There was always some question as to how Luke Danes (played by Scott Patterson) was going to turn out as the love interest of Lorelai and the stepfather of Rory. It turns out that Luke became a proud father, someone who accepted his new role and his new daughter. This was something that fans of “Gilmore Girls” enjoyed seeing.
The future of Stars Hollow
For fans who weren’t following the trajectory of Rory, one key item of interest was how life progressed in Stars Hollow, the community in Connecticut where the Gilmore family lives. Would it change radically, or would it continue much as it had, over the past decade?
The show’s writer and executive producer, Amy Sherman-Palladino, knew that fans wanted to see a glimpse of the new Stars Hollow of 2016, and she didn’t disappoint. She gave glimpses of Luke and Lorelai’s home life, letting fans see how the two were living.
There were plenty of other scenes – like one featuring a “secret bar” and one featuring a pool hangout scene – that let people see how things were moving along in Stars Hollow.
There were also plenty of scenes letting people see how some of the show’s other characters were faring as well. Michel, for example, was revealed as canonically gay, and Sookie (Melissa McCarthy) ended up leaving the Dragonfly Inn altogether. There was also time spent paying regards to Edward Herrmann (who played Richard Gilmore), who had passed away in 2014 after the series went off the air. Emily Gilmore transformed tremendously after Richard’s death and fans enjoyed seeing how Emily recreated herself as a widow.
Those Last Four Words
But if there was one really divisive issue, it was the final four words of the series. Amy Sherman-Palladino had always told fans that she had “four words” that she had wanted her characters to say in the final episode of “Gilmore Girls.” She never had that chance back in 2007, but everyone knew that she planned to have the characters say those four words this year.
And – plot spoiler alert! – this is what happened…. In the final scene of the series, Rory turns to her mom Lorelai and tells her that she’s pregnant. And then the show just ended, leaving fans to make up their minds about what just happened.
This ending was controversial on so many levels. First of all, it made fans upset – this was what happened to Rory – she was single, pregnant, and largely unsuccessful in life? And then it made fans re-think everything they thought they knew about the show. If Amy Sherman-Palladino had intended Rory to say “Mom, I’m pregnant” ten years ago – what did it mean? Was there a difference between Rory getting pregnant at 22 and at 32? And did it matter that we didn’t even know who the father was?
There was also a sense of being let down. Hadn’t all the sacrifices in people’s lives been made to ensure the very best for Rory? Did it mean that life just wasn’t meant to be, and that Rory would be forced to repeat some of the mistakes of her mother?
Due to all this debate about what actually happened in “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life,” it’s perhaps no surprise that the ratings for Netflix have been phenomenal. In fact, Netflix rarely releases ratings for its shows, but it made an exception in this case. The first installment of the series drew 5.99 million viewers in the 18-to-49 demographic, and all 4 shows in the series averaged 4.97 million viewers.
For Netflix, it was a real success. “Gilmore Girls” was such a beloved TV series when it ran on network TV (2000-2007) that it was almost inevitable that the new show wouldn’t be able to please everyone. By now, of course, the nearly 6 million fans who have streamed the show on Netflix are probably already thinking of how the next installment – if there is one – will go.