Spring is supposed to be a time of renewal, rebirth and new chances but that’s not exactly how things are working out for Rory (Alexis Bledel) and Lorelai (Lauren Graham) in the second of the new instalments of the Gilmore Girls.
In fact as “Spring” dawns in A Year in the Life, Lorelai and her mum Emily (Kelly Bishop) are still reeling from the death of Richard (Edward Herrmann) father and husband respectively, and stuck in stealth therapy.
OK it’s very obvious it is therapy what with the couch, the diffident but engaged therapist and the clinical yet tastefully-appointed office, but it’s not exactly what Lorelai had in mind when she agreed to “meet” her mum’s therapist.
Lorelai, of course, knows that anything her mother lures her into, and this was luring of the highest, Emily-manipulative order, is never going to have the fun and feel of a screening of Eraserhead at Kirk (Sean Gunn) and Lulu’s (Rini Bell) house aka short film theatre; btw don’t bring your own food, or do, after all no one is going to listen to poor Kirk and his house rules – but the eerie, near-session-long silences and the passive/aggressive recitation of past sins is more than even Lorelai bargained for.
Apparently, Lorelai co-habiting with Luke is not the same as 50 years of marriage nor is the fact that Lorelai left home at 16 without so much as a forwarding address a forgivable offense.
Emily, a past master at social and emotional ambushes, is at her peak in the sessions, dropping incendiary remark and long-simmering barb one after the other, all at a point where Lorelai can’t really respond because time is up.
It’s clear she’s grieving but then so is Lorelai and with so much baggage piled up on their relationship, the odds of getting anyone to clear it, much less a therapist who takes up smoking during the sessions so stressed does she become with the dysfunctional Gilmore dynamic, looks remote at best.
And then just like that Emily’s out, Lorelai’s still there and it emerges that not only is everything still stuck somewhere 32 years in the past but that things with Luke may not be so rosy after all.
Happy Spring to you too!
Written by Daniel Palladino, husband to series creator Amy Sherman-Palladino and co-executive producer on the show, “Spring” is all about “peaks and valleys”, something with which Lorelai has a whole lot of uncomfortable familiarity but with which Rory, protected from many of the vicissitudes of life by her mother and grandparents, is only just beginning to grapple.
Yep somehow the Gilmore Girls have managed to skip a winter of discontent, ushering a spring of discontent instead which is innovative and daring but not quite what Rory had in mind.
Rootless, still in search of her lucky red outfit and in a holding pattern for both Logan (Matt Czuchry) and the near-mythic Condé Nast interview which is always getting pushed back, Rory finds herself uncertain about her next move, not the kind of situation that Chilton’s Most Likely To is used to finding herself in.
Even good old Headmaster Charleston (Dakin Matthews) is a little worried when Rory and Paris (Liza Weil), who is in fine form, melting down and terrorising in equal, midst-of-a-divorce measures, for a Chilton alumni day.
Fresh from inspiring her class – Paris meanwhile has terrified hers but then that is how the world works and surely Headmaster Charleston has twigged to that already? – she’s offered a teaching position at her alma mater, pending the acquisition of a stray Masters or PhD (yep they’re as pushy as ever).
It’s not quite what the existential doctor ordered and while Rory is flattered, she is convinced that her book deal with Naomi (Alex Kingston), a possible article with GQ on line-waiting in New York (why do people give up days for little to no return) and a gig at Huffinton Post-lite (yep, that light!) website SandeeSays will save the day.
Uh-ah not quite so fast.
Because life is never quite that easy or kind, and while Gilmore Girls never shied away from the big questions of life, it’s amped up the pressure this time around, all too aware that as life advances, all the easy solutions of youth start to look a whole lot more complicated.
So complicated in fact that when you ending up having a one night with a Wookie you meet in line at a comic collectables store – even that is not the cause for concern you might think; rather than lament sleeping with a man she just met, Rory decries the fact that it took to the age of 32 to even have a one night stand – and realise you have reached a nadir of life.
Such is the way of things and in the second instalment of Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life which isn’t quite as zingy as “Winter” with a script that fails to match Amy Sherman-Palladino’s verve and wit, feeling a little weighted somehow, life is looked straight in the eye and a sharp and challenging account taken with the result that no one is exactly tiptoeing through the existential tulips.
That doesn’t preclude the appearance of quirk of course which was there in spades with an international food fair which doesn’t quite cover the 195 members of the U.N. – leading to amusing scenes of Taylor Dosey (Michael Winter) and Kirk rushing around the stands that do turn up apportioning extra random countries at whim – and a town meeting about a gay pride parade which Taylor agrees to postpone due to the lack of gays in the town (he ignores Gypsy’s – played by Rose Abdoo – pointed questions about whether he might be missing some gays in his count).
But this is by and large a serious Gilmore Girls, one in which the BIG questions are asked, very few answers come forth in response and we’re made to realise, once again, that there aren’t always happily-ever-afters to follow the happy endings.
After all, Lorelai got Luke, Rory got top marks at Yale and a journalistic career and Emily got back with Richard by the end of the seven seasons of Gilmore Girls; but now? Well now things aren’t quite as rosy – they’re not horrible, just not what the life doctor ordered and everyone is grappling with how to respond to that.
It’s a brave move for a show based on quirk and romance but it pays off in spades with A Year in the Life brave enough to admit that fairytales are for the Brothers Grimm and that not even the good people of Stars Hollow can keep the hounds of disillusionment at bay.