Sunday, November 27, 2016

New Gilmore: Just What We Needed

[Heading out to a Gilmore Girls gathering this weekend and was told my outfit looked familiar...]

"I wanna remember it all. Every detail."

Life (just like for the rest of us in the real world) has continued on for the folks in Stars Hollow, Conn., the small, idyllic town featured in the now iconic television series, Gilmore Girls.

In the recently released four part cinematic explosion of a mini-series, Rory Gilmore has become a 30-something who is working out how to exactly express herself in her writing and profession, while also staying true to herself. As she uttered the line quoted above, Rory longingly moved into feeling nostalgia of her past mixed with keeping her eyes on the future. It is a line that really slugged me in the gut, mostly because my extreme sentimentality that frets over time flying by too fast, constantly causes me to feel sad when I can't remember what I ate last Wednesday. (Yeah, it's bad.) Emotional folks like myself would like nothing more than to just "remember it all". Everything, all the little things, including meals.

While it may be impossible to recall every second of every day, we can give it a good shot. We can be present and write all our experiences down in a journal or turn it into a wonderful story that captures those marvelous aspects of our daily lives. 

That has always been the real magic of Gilmore Girls. Through the years, this show has brilliantly told the stories of day to day life (just with a little more flair and definitely more hats). Big milestones are also shown, like Rory's graduation from high school and college, but more often the stories stay away from big flashy events, unlike the shows that are known for their yearly holiday themed episodes.

Gilmore Girls did try their hand at a delightful Thanksgiving episode (hilariously featuring Melissa McCarthy in full on drunk Sookie mode), but the rest of the stories are almost always focused around the moments in a year that normally go unmarked by festivities - television habits, conversations with people at your job or with your neighbors, and those weekly family dinners. These situations sometimes feel boring while they are happening, but those connections will inevitably be what most people will want to remember when looking back through the years. I know I already do.

Where the show uniquely shines is in how these life events, big and small, are captured. The writers and creators of Gilmore Girls have always known how to really create a moment you will remember forever. For example, no one could forget Lorelai solemnly settling in for A Star Is Born marathon (there are three versions) only to be surprised with a romantic gesture at her door while the quintessential Judy Garland number, "The Man That Got Away" plays in the background. Pure storytelling gold.  

This new set of episodes/mini movies of course include several of these brilliantly written and memorable moments, none which will be remembered more than a totally showstopping, purely magical montage scene that takes place in the middle of the town square set to "Reflecting Light" by Gilmore songstress Sam Philips. Many will remember that song was first featured during  Luke and Lorelai's waltz at his sister's wedding (another memorable Gilmore moment for the books). That song can cause tears to start flowing right when the first cord is struck, evident even now as I play it to set the perfect mood for writing these thoughts. It is a beautiful, haunting song all on its own, but cast against the world of these characters, as Philips' voice has set the tone for the entire series, makes those warm feelings start bubbling inside every time it's played.

This new scene is one that creator Amy Sherman-Palladino must have been planning in her head for years. With grand execution, it feels like both a magnum opus ode to the characters and town, and also a wonderful summation of her creative talents. It is beautifully choreographed to the point that it could be a music video that both Sherman Palladino and Lorelai probably dreamed about starring in during their 20s.

Needless to say what unfolds is a real wow moment that will be blowing fans away for years to come. Even if that is your only take away from the four episodes, the resurrected series was still totally worth the nine year wait. The scene is that good - I'm not exaggerating.

Some are voicing disappointments with aspects of the revival, mostly general hatred towards an extended musical scene at Miss Patty's and a few plot holes, like who wrote that letter that Emily was so mad about?  However, even with a few story missteps, I adored every minute of the Stars Hollow gang being back together. 

For me, a person who has been reeling over grief, change, and trying to make sense out of using my journalism degree the last of couple years, this series hit very close to home. So close that it kind of freaked me out.  

Finding connections with Gilmore Girls is not new, since, like other fans, I have always seen parts of myself in both Rory and Lorelai. That continues into the new episodes, where at this time in my life I completely understand each of the stresses impacting the three Gilmore women and the journeys they individually take. So much so, it feels like this series was created just to give me a personal pep talk. And it worked. 

You know when people say that things come into your life just when you need them? These new episodes of Gilmore was that for me and I will forever be grateful for the kick in the motivational pants. I can bet others out there feel the same way.

Many people will not personally connect to the main story points, but, like always, there is something in the series for everyone. Witnessing the brilliant comedic and dramatic stylings of Lauren Graham and Kelly Bishop again completely makes it worth spending six hours on the couch. Of course getting the entire gang back together again is delightful, but those two women back playing the roles that feature their talents at their best is a welcome sight that will hopefully earn them the awards that they have always deserved. 

Graham and Bishop perfectly embody how their characters are starting to feel the years passing by. That combination of nostalgia and change as the central theme of the new episodes is what gives this reboot its strongest attributes and really made it a welcome return to the world of television.

Strong emotions tied to the past are fueling the characters on Gilmore Girls, as well as nearly everyone watching the new iteration of the series. Well, those nostalgic emotions accented with Chinese food and Pop Tarts, if your viewing party (with others or solo) is doing it right. If you watched the series when it originally aired, it's impossible to not drag up feelings of  the "old days" where gathering on Tuesday nights with family or friends in living rooms (or dorm rooms, like I did for the final two seasons) was an essential part of a week. Even if you are a newer fan who binged it with the ease and beauty of Netflix over the last year or several months, you can still be smashed with nostalgia just through the lens of the characters, who we ha
ve witnessed growing up in a fictional land through the magic of storytelling. 

We can try like Rory to remember it all, but that first step will be to start enjoying the moment we are in now, a time where nine years after it ended, we were gifted with new episodes of a treasured TV show. On the scale of life, this is a small, yet essential moment that, just like the world of Gilmore Girls has taught us, is one worth celebrating.

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