By the time I started watching Gilmore Girls, the seventh season had already begun to air and I was only able to watch it on ABC Family when they played reruns. I have very vivid memories of one week in seventh grade when I was sick and watched the show every time it came on, regardless of the fact that the morning episode was the same as the afternoon episode from the previous day. Once I was able to go back to school during the day, I’d make sure to catch the afternoon episode as soon as I got home so I could keep up with the characters that felt so incredibly real to me.
I did a full rewatch of the series the summer before my senior year of college, and it was just as amazing as the first time (even better, since I didn’t accidentally miss any episodes). The characters felt full and developed, like people I could actually meet. One of my favorite things about the show was that it didn’t rely on outlandish plots or extreme drama and miscommunication to carry the story- it focused on real life and the difficulties involved in growing up and figuring out who you want to be.
Whenever I watch a show, I try to cast my friends and family in it. Personally, I’ve always considered myself as some kind of Rory/Sookie mixture, but other people in my life can be a little more clear cut. I see my father so easily in Richard Gilmore- the strong father who can be stern and strict but always tries to do what is right for his family. Paris Geller is one of my roommates from college, trying so hard to be tough and change the world however she can while underneath she is soft and kind and not quite sure what she’s doing. Lorelai is a mixture of my mom and my sisters. I’m incredibly close to my mom, similar to how Lorelai and Rory are, but my sisters have Lorelai’s independence and intensity.
Seeing these people I love in the characters on a TV show always made it feel more concrete, more like something from my life.
Watching the revival, Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, felt even more real and relatable.
Spoilers from this point forward. Consider yourself warned.
As I mentioned previously, I’ve always identified a lot with Rory (perfectionist over achiever with a passion for books and words who is close to her mom and has people fighting over who she should date? Okay, maybe not that last part, but everything else, yeah).
Seeing her in the revival at age 32 and still struggling to figure out what she wants to do with her life and feeling lost felt so validating. I went to school and got a degree in something that doesn’t exactly relate all that much to my actual job, and I have days where I wonder if I even know what I am doing with my life.
Watching a character that I looked up to as a pre-teen go through those same issues was wonderfully reassuring. It reminded me that it is more than okay for me to be confused about life- it isn’t something that we ever are supposed to have figured out.
Admittedly, Rory was quite a bit more lost than I feel I am. I did not appreciate the “other woman”-esque relationship she was in with Logan, and felt that she should have known better at this point, especially considering she basically did the same thing in season five with Dean. Rory was always pretty good about learning from her mistakes, so that part of her plotline irked me. However, I did like how they ended things. Their eventual breakup felt honest and true to the characters.
Lorelai’s character appealed to me more than ever in the revival. Throughout the original series she annoyed me at times, as she was a bit flighty and very impulsive. It was nice to see those character traits tempered and to see her in a place where she could be happy. The thing about her plot that I really loved, though, was that even though everything in her life looked good she still felt like there was something off. I feel like so often people don’t look past the overall feeling of surface happiness to check on what is causing the itch on the back of their neck, so seeing her actually address it was so satisfying. It also was hilarious to see Lorelai- the least outdoorsy of all TV characters- attempt to go hiking.
The most rewarding plotline, however, was Emily Gilmore’s. In the first of the four episodes, she is a grieving widow fresh from her husband’s sudden death and funeral. She goes through the beginning stages of grief, and by the end of the episode has been convinced to go to grief counseling. In the second and third episodes she tries to go back to how her life was before, but obviously doesn’t find it as fulfilling as it used to be before Richard passed away. The final episode marked so much growth from her.
She gave up the connections and groups she had participated in for years because they no longer made her happy and she was so tired of the head games played by her peers. She sold the house the Gilmores had lived in for years (with one of the most heartbreaking lines- “It hasn’t been home since your father has been gone”), moved to the house on the shore they had rented each summer, took on her maid’s family as if they were her own, and began volunteering at a whaling museum- and I don’t think I had lived until watching Emily Gilmore describe how whalers used to hunt whales in graphic detail. At the end of the revival she was unrecognizable from who she was at the beginning, and I loved that.
I think anyone who has gone through a major change- whether it be the loss of a loved one, a huge life transition such as moving to a new place, changing careers, etc.- could relate to Emily’s storyline. When you deal with something that huge, it makes you step back and really reflect on your life. Luckily, I haven’t experienced intense grief very often, but I have felt the need to re-evaluate what it is that I want from life and what I’m currently getting from it. In all honesty, I’ve been in one of these self-evaluation stages for the last couple months. It’s been difficult figuring out what it is that I’m looking for in terms of my future and where I want to be and what I want to be doing, but seeing an even more extreme form of that confusion played out through Emily’s grief and healing in the show felt incredibly soothing.
Transitions are hard. They hurt. Some days it feels like you were just torn apart and like parts of your heart are hanging out of your body for everyone around you to hit. However, if you’re strong and hold true to yourself like Emily did, you will come out on the other side happy and whole and ready for the next part of your life.
The two moments from the revival that I think will stay with me for a while both came from the last episode. Lorelai had gone off to California to spend a few weeks hiking the Pacific Coast Trail in order to clear her head and get a better sense of what she wanted. At one point she got to the top of a hill and looked out over a beautiful vista and called her mother to tell Emily her favorite memory of Richard. It fit seamlessly into the story and was such a touching story that perfectly fit everyone’s characterizations. I was in tears within seconds.
The other moment was after Lorelai returned from her hiking trip. Luke had become convinced that Lorelai was planning to leave him, and he gave her a full speech on how much he loved her and how he might not be the perfect man, but he was the one who would be there for her through anything and everything if she would please just stay. It so was heartfelt and, as anyone who has watched the show can attest, Luke isn’t one for big speeches. Seeing him so emotionally open was a shock. It was probably my favorite scene of the revival.
Overall, I am very satisfied with the revival (although I do want more, damn it!). I cried for basically the entire last episode, but when it was over I felt happy. I’ve seen how the characters of my favorite TV show aged and continued on with their lives, and it reassures me that I can do the same.
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