Rory is Exactly Herself in Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life’s “Spring”
By Chelsea Hensley
At therapy with Emily, Lorelai offers a retroactive apology that she hopes will smooth the waters. It doesn’t of course because 1) why would it? and 2) they’re Gilmores. This is much what the revival is doing, smoothing over mistakes of the past and even inserting whole developments that it previously avoided. Some of this has to happen (because of season seven), but in plenty of instances it looks more like a lazy way of glossing over the original series’ flaws, and that’s only for the problems that Palladinos realized were problems. There’s still a host of things it hasn’t.
In the previous episode we finally got confirmation that Michel is gay, a point previously only speculated upon. And now Stars Hollow is having its first pride parade, while lamenting the lack of gay people in town (they want a neighboring town to “lend” their gays) in a clumsy attempt to poke fun at the series’ lack of diversity. We even finally get a glimpse of Lane’s dad, Mr. Kim And if I’m not mistaken, there are way more people of color as extras now? But still, no cookies for you, Palladinos. Especially since Gilmore Girls hasn’t figured out to deal with a less than perfect Rory.
“This isn’t you.”
If there’s one thing I wish we’d get from this revival it would be the canon understanding that this is Rory Gilmore. The chorus of “this isn’t Rory” has been common since the show began, a cheap and tired method of excusing Rory’s bad behaviors as just not being her. It’s less about us (can we all agree Rory is often a total mess?) and more about Rory, who never has to examine herself when she can write off transgressions as not being her.
This is having an affair with an engaged Logan. This is having a one night stand with some costumed dude she waited in line with (which is one of the most interesting things that’s ever happened to Rory). If you ask anyone (especially Lorelai) nothing Rory does is ever really Rory unless it’s going to Yale and getting published in The New Yorker. Nevermind that Rory was the other woman with Dean or that she had a similarly hazy notion of fidelity when Jess came into the picture. But it’s probably not cute to actually deal with Rory’s casual cheating, both with and on other people, because we may start to believe it’s her.
Gilmore Girls has never been able to function with an imperfect Rory, but instead of actually trying to make her perfect (which is impossible on its own), it simply ignores her mistakes. There’s absolutely no one holding Rory accountable for her affair with Logan. Even Lorelai, who had plenty to say when Rory slept with a married Dean, pretty much shrugs her shoulders this time around.
And Rory doesn’t care either. With Dean she tried to justify it with the (foolish) notion he’d leave Lindsey. Now she has no opinion on it except annoyance that Logan’s attention may be diverted by the woman he’s marrying. Oh, and that she’ll have to actually stop living with him when the fiancee arrives in town.
When Rory and and Paris head back to Chilton, it’s another excuse for the show to let someone put on their “Rory is #1” hat (in this case, it’s Headmaster Charleston). It gets some time to also revisit those glory days, with Francie turning up to spar with Paris and Tristan, not actually a Chilton alum since he got sent to military school, kind of makes an appearance. And Paris, continuing to be the best thing about the revival, has a mini-freakout in the bathroom (her kicking the door closed is now my #1 Paris moment). But all of this is unimportant compared to Rory and how great she is, and why doesn’t she have her Masters so she can come teach at Chilton?
Perhaps it’s fitting that Mitchum Huntzberger should reappear to put in a good word with Conde Nast (again…all of Conde Nast?) when the book falls through. If you recall, he was the catalyst for Rory’s hiatus from Yale, yet another instance of Rory not being “herself”. Not that any of this is mentioned. Rory tries out writing a piece on “lines” and doesn’t like that. And the overbearing (and kinda creepy) editor chasing her decides Rory, in her extremely unflattering “lucky outfit” with no ideas and no enthusiasm whatsoever, won’t be a good fit. So I suppose her freelance career is over now? How will she keep paying for her trips across the pond? Or for her three phones?
“It was supposed to be Luke.”
I’m coming around to being totally disappointed in Rory’s arc, but Lorelai’s is shaping up to be much better despite its haziness at the moment. After Emily ditches therapy, Lorelai confides that her season seven marriage to Christopher never should have happened (yeah, we know) because “it was supposed to be Luke”. And if you’re a Gilmore diehard, you know that to be true.
But more than how Lorelai’s life is how it was supposed to be, it’s also how she wanted it. Lorelai’s life is practically perfect. Despite Michel’s certainty that it’s peaked, the Dragonfly is constantly booked, and she and Luke are doing well together (even though Luke has no intention of expanding Luke’s–what a pointless diversion that is). Lorelai has peaked herself and now doesn’t know where to go, though she looks like she’s headed for a full blown midlife crisis.
And probably a Luke/Lorelai wedding with how much we’re talking about it. There’s no way the Palladinos would split them up (we already know how that will go over with fandom) so it’s more likely Luke and Lorelai are going to end up walking down the aisle and all will be well in the world. But what about the in between? They can’t get married with Lorelai having Paul Anka dreams so something will have to change, but what will it be?
This is uncharted, but no less good territory for Gilmore Girls. Relationship drama had been it’s focal point no matter who it’s between, but it’s had little in the way of inner conflict. It’s done it every once in awhile (Rory’s Yale hiatus comes to mind), and it’s done good work with it. Which makes Rory’s arc all the more disappointing. Rory’s story is always how it’s supposed to be, but it’s never about what it actually is. There’s nothing inner about it, no self-examination, no nothing. It’s just Rory not being “herself”.