Sunday, November 27, 2016

32 is the new 23: Gilmore Girls kvetching

I came out of hibernation just to complain about the Gilmore Girls. Well, not really, since I didn't mean to go into hibernation in the first place, but moving, teaching, child-rearing, and being sick all the time from the unceasing stream of baby germs brought to my home through child-rearing all got in the way of blogging this semester. More on that another time. But they did not get in the way of complaining about the Gilmore Girls.

I've only seen the first episode so far. I AM SPACING IT OUT, OK? I do not care that Netflix is not made for that. I do not care that you've already seen the whole thing and are in the process of preparing for the re-re-boot. Perhaps my complaints are premature, but oh well.

Ok, now, we did know this would happen. The basic problem is that Gilmore Girls is at bottom a coming-of-age show, and coming of age is not a lifelong process. Yes, sure, living is a lifelong process, and some people's adult lives are more interesting than others, but it's not all just a process of growing up and up and up until one day you accidentally fall down dead. So if you leave a coming-of-age show for a decade and then suddenly return to it now, everyone in it should have finished coming of age. What's left for the show to be about? That's the obvious difficulty with the re-boot.

Some characters can weather this difficulty better than others. Richard and Emily were of course in the best position to weather a decade off-air because they were always pretty much the only adults on the show, already settled in life and in their ways. The next candidates would be Sookie and Jackson. But death and scheduling conflicts felled both these couples, and turned Emily into an old version of needy, whiny Lorelai. So all we have left are perpetual-child Lorelai and the younger generation of the original show who were supposed to have used this decade to settle into careers and families and become dull, but have instead been essentially frozen in time for all these years, except for the physical aging.

First, there is the chronologically 32-year-old Rory who is at life stage age 23, exactly where the show left her in 2007. Somehow, despite having pursued her journalism career with unswerving intent and ambition since college, despite racking up impressive credentials and networking madly, despite covering Obama before he was cool, we meet her a decade later, single, homeless, and still floundering around in Journalism Career Stage 1: Occasional Freelancing.* Lane has also spent the past decade in suspended animation because, despite being married and having twins at the end of the show, nothing at all has changed about her life since 2007. She still lives in the same house and her primary occupation is still drumming for her apparently hopeless garage band, now with two little kids sitting in a corner of the house quietly coloring. (Convenient children! Can I have some like that?) Only Paris shows signs of having continued life during the hiatus, following the awesomeness arc her character created in the original show. Paris is plausibly 32: she has built a business (an empire, apparently, but what is Paris if not motivated?), married and had children, and is now apparently ready for divorce (but not really!). Everyone else has just aged in place.

I understand that it is irrational to take this failure on the writers' parts personally, but I'm exactly the same age as Rory, and I expect my real life and her fictional life to unfold in tandem, but they haven't, and that's sad. I do admit of course that, if they had, and Rory were a TV-version of me, the re-boot would be, objectively, really boring. But not to me!

Besides my main concern that there would be no good way to work a decade of time passed and life lived into the reboot without undermining the coming-of-age premise of the show, I had two other worries about this reboot: the first was that, given current cultural preoccupations, it would turn into an elaborate condemnation of the original show's often-positive depiction of New England WASPs. The second was that it would just be a series of cameos and inside-jokey flashbacks to the original series. Concern 1 has not proven to be relevant so far. Concern 2 is very prevalent.

*I am holding out hope for one redemptive story line that might come out of this very inauspicious beginning, which is that the reason that Rory has made no progress in her career despite mightily trying is that she is about to realize that she never really wanted fame and prestige in the first place, but her real calling all along was to come home and teach at Stars Hollow High or something like that. Such a shift would obviously be inconsistent after 27 solid years of wanting to be Christiane Amanpour (an aspiration which I've previously insisted was itself out of keeping with her character), but it would be consistent with the show as a whole.


Julia said...

I would like to request more kvetching, once you've finished all the episodes.

Miss Self-Important said...

Request will be granted in next couple weeks.

Alex said...

I've now watched all of this except the last half hour. My thoughts are mostly that this is not a good enough show to stand up to this kind of scrutiny. It's mostly non-sensical. (At least this remake- I don't remember the original all that well, and I don't think I ever saw the last season- I lost interest when she went to college.) My main takeaway from this remake is that it is more fun to be very wealthy than not. Also that Jess aged well.

Are Paris's kids also twins??