Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life “Summer” review

Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life "Summer" review
Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life “Summer” review

 

Right so without a moment to waste, let’s address the biggest revelation of the entire episode – Stars Hollow has a swimming pool!

Yes, an actual swimming pool by which Lorelai (Lauren Graham) and Rory (Alexis Bledel) sun themselves like royalty – when they are not shading themselves of course with the help of a couple of indentured servants, I mean, young school boys in need of some pocket money – overweight men in speedos inappropriately promenade and next to which sits the Luke-provided (Scott Patterson) Floaty Hut which has been, gasp and gather yourself!, vandalised.

Maybe it’s the perpetual sense of winterness. Or the very New England-ness of Stars Hollow that excludes even the passing fancy that the town might possess a pool. Or perhaps, it’s the sense that, Taylor Dosey’s (Michael Winters) use of the song title “The Lazy Hazy Crazy Days” of summer, is about as close to the hottest time of the year as the town gets.

Whatever causes the mind to shut out the idea of Stars Hollow getting wet and doing some laps, or sipping soda, the presence of this pool, at which Luke volunteers as a lifeguard, with his usual paternalistic efficiency, is, along with the idea of attendant kid pee and a stated preference by both mother and daughter for staying in a cold bath and foregoing all the redundant heat-causing walking through the sun, leaves you stunned for the longest time.

Clearly it’s a well-kept secret because visitor numbers to Stars Hollow are down, necessitating the staging of the world’s first ever Stars Hollow the Musical, written by Taylor naturally, which seems to consist of the same scene over and over again and some legally questionable use of 9 ABBA songs at the end.

Still, the use of the songs by ABBA’s musical Mamma Mia worked a charm for that piece of Broadway gold – Taylor rather overlooks the fact that ABBA own full copyright to their songs and so they can use as many of them as they want to whatever effect they so desire – as did rap in historically-incongruent scenes for Hamilton, from which the chief administrator of Stars Hollow seems quite happy to artistically pilfer in the pursuit of topping up the town’s depleted coffers.

Everyone on the committee overseeing Stars Hollow great summer revenue hope such as Babette (Sally Struthers) and Sophia (Carole King in a starring turn other than the theme song)  LOVES it like they’re in a cult and it’s their new messiah; the one holdout? Yup, it’s Lorelai who rightly observes that it’s more than a tad derivative and a few miles to the right of quirky and sweet.

It’s a losing battle as it usually is when Lorelai points out that the Stars Hollow emperor has no clothes but unlike most other times when the coffee-addicted daughter of the town is content to let Taylor’s collective wacky whims be, she feels inclined to speak up to the point where it’s clear there is more at work here than just a dislike for rapping during the industrial revolution.

 

Quirky and carefree, what could possibly go wrong for Lorelai and Rory? Quite a bit as it turns out (image (c) Warner Bros)
Quirky and carefree, what could possibly go wrong for Lorelai and Rory? Quite a bit as it turns out (image (c) Warner Bros)

 

And indeed there is much wrong in the storied world of Lorelai, Rory and Emily Gilmore.

Perhaps it’s a family reaction to the grief of losing dad Richard (Edward Herrmann) which gets stirred up again and again as the company assigned to make the grave marker gets things repeatedly wrong or Emily changes her mind, or almost hilariously, a tombstone falls off the truck on route to the cemetery.

Clearly no one has quite recovered from losing the elder statesman of the Gilmore clan with Emily essentially going through the motions, staying in bed until noon, not going to the club – and when she does she gets herself a boyfriend of sorts to Lorelai and Rory’s muted horror – and sitting blankly through meetings of the Daughters of the American Revolution, once a hot button issue for her.

It’s clear her heart is no longer in life as she once knows it, and the presence of a TV … in the living room … with a tray table on which to eat dinner … yes you may Rory in being gobsmacked at this most un-Emily of developments … is final proof that the Emily Gilmore we once knew and kind of loved is off grieving the man she knew and unable to rejoin her starkly-demarcated life.

Rory’s rootlessness also continues apace, egged on by Logan (Matt Czuchry) shacking up finally with French fiance Odette, her assuming of the mantle of the editorship of the Stars Hollow Gazette, which faced closure and a brief visit by Jess (Milo Ventimiglia, in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo) where a maudlin Rory wonders where her shot at being a contender went. (Oh and just so we’re clear, Rory is NOT back, all appearances to the contrary.)

The solution to all this existential angst and philosophical ennui, and an escape from joining the Thirty Something Club of people who left Stars Hollow with big dreams but returned tales between their legs, is to write a book of course but her chosen topic, the life she and her mother have carved out in Stars Hollow, is declared off-limits by Lorelai who doesn’t much like the idea of people, read: Emily Gilmore, finding many material with which to wantonly judgemental.

This throws Rory who has pegged all the hopes and dreams on this book, convinced it’s all she has left at age 32 in her arsenal but throws her mother, who treats her  daughter like she’s Emily, come to invasively pry and pillage over her life once again.

It’s a tipping point for Lorelai who realises she isn’t happy, that things are changing – Michel (Yanic Truesdale) for one is leaving her behind, following in Sookie’s footsteps – and she isn’t sure she’s OK with that.

While it all feels a little over-baked and sudden, in Lorelai’s case most particularly, and a tad too dark and depressing – again Daniel Palladino does not have his wife Amy Sherman-Palladino’s lightness of touch that marries the dark and the quirky in a merry leavened whole – it all makes a lot of sense given the way all three Gilmore Girls are being deeply affected by grief whether they realise it or not.

Grief is no respecter of quirky, small town romanticness and even though Stars Hollow dances on its own idiosyncratic way, the lives of Emily, Lorelai and Rory are no longer keeping pace and no amount of wry observations by the side of the Stars Hollow pool (yes there’s a pool) can change this dark turn of events.

For a full recap of the episode, which includes the hazards of installing air-conditioning in Miss Patty’s dance studio, go HERE, and for all the pop culture references you could ask for, or dance to in a vaudeville fashion, go HERE.

 

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