Why, yes, of course this blog is still alive. I’m just very, very busy. Life, you know.
So, while I’m waiting for my Torchwood 10th Anniversary repeat viewing (happy birthday, you!), I’m writing my very long and probably very emotional rant (?) about Gilmore Girls, which I just finished watching. Spoilers ahead, obviously.
Not the background of Gilmore Girls, which you either know or can google, but my personal background story or rather, relationship with the series. I was in my first year of college, and I think someone I had a crsuh on mentioned liking the series, so I began watching. I think. It may have been totally different. It was airing 5 days a week, in the afternoon at that time (yeah, German television…), so it fit pretty well with my schedule. It also means that I entered the series late in season one or in early season two, I can’t remember.
What I do know is: I loved it. I probably had a crush on Rory, too. It helped me study for college, because, as we all know, Rory was also studying a lot in those early years. My love for the series was so deep, the girls became the topic of my Japanese class essay in which we were supposed to explain what someone had done for us (Japanese has special verbs for that). My classmates were confused when my first sentence was “My name is Rory”, but I though it was perfect. Hell, I even made my own pro/con list when I had to decide at which university I wanted to continue my studies (turns out I didn’t factor in the right factors, but I still made a great choice).
So I watched until season four, and then I went to Japan for a year, and Japan didn’t (yet) have the Gilmores. I was heartbroken, but I still went (and watched lots of CSI and 24). When I came back, the DVD set for season five was waiting for me and – I didn’t like it. At all. And so I stopped watching the series.
Fast forward to 2016: I still have the soundtrack on my iTunes, so I never totally parted ways with the Gilmores. And then Netflix comes along and announces a new series. And I get excited. And notice I haven’t watched it to the end. And so begins my three-month (?) rewatch which finished today, and – leaves me with lots of emotions that I need to vent, because: ARGH!
Bottom line is: I love season one til three. I’m okay-ish with season four. I pretty much hate everything that comes after it. But maybe I should explain this with a couple more words…
It is SO conservative!!!
Yes, it is. The set-up seems untraditional: a single mother who had her child at 16 and has no real contact with her parents. Her family is rich, but she insists on making it on her own – and does very well. All big Yays!
Or not. It works that way for the first three seasons. It works well. And then it starts to fall apart. At Chilton, Rory struggles with not being a rich kid (at least it felt that way). But she was okay. At Yale, she just fit right in. She struggled with money once, but that didn’t even last one episode. And then she became one of the rich kids and never looked back. So annoying.
Also annoying: most of the female characters’ path was going toward two things: marriage and children. Even Lane, who was so cool, ended up “I’m married and have two kids.” As if that was all her life was about. Sookie at least was a working mom and as such was the most progressive of them all. Well, and Rory said “no” to Logan. Thank god! But it really bugs me. Of course, the series easily passes the Bechdel test, but they still talk about men and relationship problems way too often… Once the inn business was settled, it never really came up as a story again although there are tons of business stories that could have been told. Business is an adventure, after all…
Another point that bugs me (and bugged me in the early seasons, too): how the show treats homosexuality. Okay, there are no LGBTQ couples in your fictional Connecticut. I could live with that. But there were so many comments along the lines of “ew, gays” or “ew, two boys/girls kissing”. Was that really necessary? And no, Emily saying that “lesbianism is not a joke” in season seven does not make it all okay. I hope this is not all due to the fact that the show was supposed to be “family friendly viewing”…
And speaking of diversity – racial diversity is also a big issue. I know New England is pretty white, but still. Sure, we have Lane, but she gets less and less space as the story progresses, and her mom is a walking joke. Michel is the token black guy who gets no character development or storyline whatsoever, which really sucks. Plus, he’s an annoying character. And then suddenly, in later seasons, we get all these black characters in the background (girl from Lane’s bachelorette party, anyone?) who show up once never to be seen again. Stars Hollow would have allowed for one more black character, Yale would certainly have allowed for more racial diversity (did you see the parents in their traditional outfits???), but no, that never happened, and that’s a huge shame.
Black hole plot
I didn’t notice it so much back then, but when you marathon Gilmore Girls, you really notice that the story isn’t all that well developed. Story arcs have a beginning, but so often they’re dropped and you’re left wondering what happened inbetween the episodes.
Wasn’t Jackson the town selectman? How did Taylor get his job back???
Wasn’t Lorelai wooed by that international hotel company? Whatever happened there?
When and how did Max find out Lorelai wouldn’t marry him???
What happened to the Rory Gilmore building???
Etc etc etc
It’s really annoying, and it’s intertwined with the fact that apart from the core cast Lorelai, Rory, Luke and maybe Richard and Emily, none of the characters get any real development. Which is a shame, especially in the case of Paris and Lane (becoming a mother isn’t really a character development, is it?). Paris is always the over-achiever. She becomes friends with Rory and falls in love with Doyle, but she doesn’t have to change. Lane had to struggle with her mom, but she falls way to easily in to her mother-role. Did she have to give up music altogether???
This point is of course intertwined with the show pretending to be an ensemble show, but becoming a Lorelai and Rory show with other scenes sprinkled in for decoration. You have 22 eps per season but don’t manage to come up with more than “They fall in love with these two guys and this and that happens in the job and at school”? Downton Abbey managed to tell more storys in 8 eps per season! If you’re not going to make good use of it, why put so much emphasis on Stars Hollow at all? Sure, putting Rory at Yale was gonna cause problems in that area, but I feel like it could have been executed better. The Stars Hollow atmosphere from season one til three is such an important part of the whole series, of its tone, and then it just went to waste.
Did I mention I had a crush on her? I really liked her in season one til three. She was confident, intelligent, hard working – and then she entered college and became insecure. I mean, yes, it’s a daunting new world, but it seemed weird and a bit out of character.
And then her boyfriends. (Team Dean, btw)
Dean: totally sweet and she totally messed it up. Both times. I mean, I know they were very different and that their relationship wouldn’t have made it into her twenties, but couldn’t she have been nicer to him? He did everthing and she just threw it all away. And now he’s a hunter, which is fitting. Oh, wait, wrong show.
Jess: I don’t get how she could fall for him. I kinda like his grown-up author version, but his young version is just sooo messed up. Is it the whole “bad boy” thing? Why do people like Jess?
Logan: Even bigger question mark. Was it the Birkin bag? Why on earth did she fall for him? And what did she love about him? I don’t get it. At all. Yes, he was there for her, but only because he has a chauffeur and a helicopter and could afford to always be there. And she only had a peoblem with all of that money for half a minute. Maybe. And that just doesn’t make sense.
(and why on earth was Marty so weird to her? Because that pairing had potential…)
In a way, Rory had it way too easy on the show. She had to study hard and dropped out of Yale for a semester (which was way beyond out of character), and she had to struggle (aka wait) for three episodes to find a job (Obama gets a cameo in the Netflix series, yeah?), but all in all, things worked out very well. Which is a shame, because we can’t grow if we don’t have to struggle (at least if we’re characters on TV). Or is that how college in the US works? You get in, you relax, things are fine? I thought that was just the Japanese system…
Watching the finale of season seven, I thought how immature Rory still seems. Sure, she’s just 22 and still has a long way ahead of her, but she feels more like 16 or 17, not like someone embarking on a two-year campaign trail reporting journey. I very much agree with Mitchum Huntzberger in this matter: she doesn’t seem ready for the shark tank that is journalism in the 21st century, especially since she’s aiming for print.
(also, did they have to introduce April as young-Rory-clone? Very lame move that showed all the more the kind of character we lost to “Logan-Rory”)
There’s probably lots more that’s bugging me about the series, but it’s late and I’m tired. I’m still looking forward to the Netflix revival, but with all the problems caused by season seven, I’m not too confident four new eps (well, eight if we factor in the length) can really fix that. But I am looking forward to seeing Dean again. “So, what have you been up to?” – “Oh, you know, saving people, hunting things. The famil business.” Too bad that dialogue won’t happen…