Where you lead, I will follow
Anywhere that you tell me to
If you need, you need me to be with you
I will follow where you lead
~~ Carole King, “Where You Lead”
SPOILER ALERT: So, per usual, I’ll write this review for those who have already watched the show. However, since you might just want a little peak at the show, but you may not want to have those mysterious four words ruined for you, I won’t discuss them.
If you’re reading this, you probably have some strong feelings about Emily (Kelly Bishop), Lorelai (Lauren Graham), and Rory (Alexis Bledel). In the past weeks, I’ve read reviews of the Netflix 4-episode series that ranged from complete lambasts to absolute raves from folks who were not just in love with these episodes, they were already planning to watch the next 4 and gearing up for a complete re-watch of the first seven seasons.
I’m somewhere between those two extremes and am probably closer to the lambast than the rave. I should admit, first, that I am no GG superfan. I watched the show on and off as it was released. And, this past winter, I watched all the seasons again from start to finish because you know, Netflix. I was excited about the new season because I did feel like we left the GG world at an awkward place when the show ended the first time.
Overall, I thought that year-in-the-life approach was a good one. We weren’t overwhelmed with being submerged back in a cast and a setting that has moved on. Well, I guess mostly Melissa McCarthy moved on in the big way, but other actors, like Lauren Graham, have stayed busy too. I am a big fan of series that are more interested in telling a narrative, rather than providing a plot point for a neverending sequense of episodes that all seem kind of the same (Ahem… like Law & Order. I think I’m the only person I know who actively dislikes that show. DUN DUN).
Now, even with only four episodes, there was one that could have been entirely skipped. Yes, I mean the musical. That was AWFUL. I mean, I LOVE MUSICALS! Loooooooooovvvvveeee them. I can sing every song from The Wizard of Oz. I tear up when I hear “Edelweiss.” If you piss me off, I just might be singing “Defying Gravity” in my head to inspire me to stay focused on my own goals. But, this musical was not something to be excited about, and it wasn’t bad in a funny way. It was just bad. I get that was the point, so we could see Lorelai act as a critic and all, but we still had to suffer through WAY too much of it.
My other beef with the show has to do with Rory. I’m not quite as aghast as some folks, like Megan Burbank over at The Portland Mercury, who railed and against the show and ASP’s decisions for Rory, arguing, “Rory Gilmore deserved better than this.” But, I agree in sentiment, if not in kind, with those who were disappointed in how Rory’s ten years were presented. Really, I get that our lives don’t always follow a Hollywood arc, with everything landing neatly in our laps at just the right time to ensure absolute success. But I don’t think that it makes sense for this character to be at such a loss in all areas of her life, from her family to her love-life to her work. I also find it nearly unbelievable that the hard-working, organized, and bold Rory Gilmore would be so unorganized in her packing that she would have lost her underwear. I get that it was meant to be a running gag, but it didn’t make sense and wasn’t funny. (And, a minor irritation, the pool scenes were also not funny either).
What I think the Netflix series gets perfect, though, is the healing and forward progression of Emily, Lorelai, and Rory. That’s why I started this review with an excerpt from the theme song. The show, really, isn’t about Rory. It isn’t about Lorelai. It’s about how Emily and her love, as unreasonable as it may seem throughout the original series, led to a child, Lorelai, who would love Rory as fiercely as she does, and how eventually Lorelai would return that love to her mother. Love is, after all, about making a choice to give to another. We may not understand Emily, but there are so many moments where she gives to Lorelai. And, as she gives, she asks to receive her daughter’s love in return. Now, I know that perhaps we’re meant to see this as wrong, as if Emily is being unreasonable, but I don’t think so.
This series reminded me of Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping, when at the end the grandmother realizes that she had taught the girls so much, but that she had never taught them to be kind to her, to love her, which leads the children to almost treat the grandmother as if she were irrelevant. Lorelai’s Wild moment changes not her view of herself, but her view of her mother. She calls her mother and can finally give her mother what is needed, what is kind, and what is loving. This allows Lorelai to more fully experience love herself and to more fully love her own daughter.
This four-episode series was a good watch and a better ending than the series had originally. I’m not certain more episodes are really needed, but I’m sure I’ll watch them if they happen.