Last night was about (binge) watching the new season of Gilmore Girls :a Year in the Life, on Netflix.
The return of the acclaimed series raised high expectations : the last season closed in 2007 without its creator, Amy Sherman- Palladino, who is now back on track for these 4 new episodes (6hrs in total, perfect for a cold weekend) ; each one matches with a season starting with Winter, hence the title A Year in the Life.
Following the ups and downs of 3 generations of women in a small town in Connecticut, Gilmore Girls was originally a successs thanks to its witty dialogs, its smart pop-culture references and its strong leading duo, played by Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel. After almost ten years off the screen, many issues were at stake for the G.G fans with this new (and final ?) season : what will be the future of the star-crossed couple, Lorelai (the mother) and Luke ? Will Rory (the daughter) find her way out into the world? How will the fairytale town of Stars Hollow adapt to the new digital age without compromising its magic spirit ? And, most of all, what will be the 4 final words of the show, which have been kept secret for so long by Amy Sherman-Palladino?
Some of these pressing questions were well-answered thanks to the extended format allowed by Nextflix : it looked like a Gilmore Girls movie that was cut for T.V. Therefore there was plenty of time to deal with all the issues at stake : the death of the patriarch, Richard Gilmore (matching the passing of the actor, Edward Hermann, in 2014), is fully embraced in the story, and leads to some of the best moments and dialogs, notably between Lorelai and her mother, Emily Gilmore (still incredible Kelly Bishop, 72), who decide to go to therapy together… The relationship between Lorelai and Luke is also fully dealt with, although we don’t see the whole final big event promised by the last episode (no spoilers here, but truly disappointing …).
The entrance of some secondary characters also lead to pure moments of joy and sparks : Paris Geller (Liza Weil), Rory’s best friend, a stubborn and competitive life- achiever, who has not lost her impressive speech delivery, nor her tantrums ; Michel Gerard, the bitchy French concierge at the Dragonfly Inn, played by a Yanic Truesdale who appears as wrinkle-free as his character demands. And of course the town of Stars Hollow, which looks reassuringly unchanged, from the romantic gazebo on the main square to Miss Patty’s ballet studio and Luke’s diner (the latter has wi-fi, but still no phones allowed…).
Then, unfortunately, there are the unexpected dark spots. Things that are pretty damaging to the myth for any GG fan, or worse, for someone who happens to discover the show and would not have the empathy to excuse these weaknesses on the account of a long relationship with Gilmore Girls. These moments when you need to pour yourself some coffee… Literally (for the ones who are not familiar with the show coffee used to be one of the main obsessions of the Gilmore Girls).
First, some scenes last far too long : the Stars Hollow musical in the third episode is the most obvious one. It is like the creators had some spare within the 90 minutes of the episode, and decided not to cut some scenes after all in order to fill the blanks. And sadly to doze us off.
On the other hand, some lively characters from the original show are left adrift : Babette, Lorelai’s eccentric cat-lover neighbor and her husband Ray ; Lorelai’s best friend and chef at the Inn, Sookie St James, who appears only briefly in the last episode… One can regret that instead of putting these characters ahead, the Stars Hollow stories turn around the quirky Kirk and his pig pet called Petale, and Star Hollow’s bossy mayor Taylor Doose, whose coming-out is suggested but not even fully achieved. Once again, it looks like this season lost precious time (if it is indeed the last one).
And finally, the biggest disappointment lies in the development of Rory’s character: she is now 32 and after 6 hours, it looks like we haven’t moved from season 7 already : we still don’t know where she is going, for she is completely adrift with her journalist job (reading Vogue’s review it looks like Condé Nast agrees on this ) ; we don’t know who she will finally choose to love, for all her former boyfriends make an appearance without leading to any conclusion whatsoever, given that their scenes are rather winks than in-depth looks at the plots set in the previous seasons. Even her friendships and her relationships to the other characters (out of her mother) have lost most of their salt and pepper. According to the fact that Rory is the one who pronounces these famous (or now infamous) final words (and there are actually 3, not 4…), it is truly sad to acknowledge that they stand for the only evolution of her character since the beginning of the journey (no spoilers here again !).
I am not sure Alexis Bledel’s interpretation is to blame for that lack of thickness in her character, for she was definitely better in her latest appearances on the screen (notably in Remember Sunday, 2013). But overall there is a dark cloud floating on the series’ finale that only an additional season could wash away in laughter. It would be a pitty to end such a good show on a cliffhanger that has one of his main characters looking straight at emptiness.
In the meantime, make your own opinion on this new turn of events in the Gilmore Girls galaxy, or better watch (again) the previous seasons that will surely take you somewhere nice.
Gilmore Girls : a Year in the Life (4 episodes) on Netflix
Season 1 to 7 also available on Netflix