They say everyone loves a happy ending, and when it comes to fictional people in TV series you have followed for years, this is especially true. Whether the story culminates in a tearful, sentimental farewell to Monica’s New York apartment in Friends, or the anti-climactic and massively confusing conclusion to Lost, well-meaning fans generally want nothing more than to know that their favorite characters will lead happier post-production (non)existences beyond the tube.
However, I also believe that the next best thing to a happy ending is a happier continuation, and this is where reunion episodes come in. For fans, this is akin to checking up on and hearing back from dear friends you did not think you would ever see again. For instance, as a fan of the 90s TV show Beverly Hills 90210, I was pleased to see how Jennie Garth’s character Kelly Taylor turned out when she appeared in the spin-off in 2008. The most troubled teen in the 1992 series, she went through it all – promiscuity, eating disorders, drugs, and even date rape at one point. But Kelly’s tendency to self-destruct was no longer apparent in the late-thirties version. Here she was a guidance counselor at her old high school, and an older sister to one of the main characters. She even reunites with perennial frenemy Brenda (Shannen Doherty), and briefly reignites their famous love triangle with old flame Dylan (Luke Perry). As cheesy as it was for the producers to try to work that same 90s magic for the millennial crowd, I was glad for a quick peek at what happened to the main kids of West Beverly High.
Six weeks ago, I posted my fearless forecasts about the upcoming reunion episode of one of my favorite TV shows of all time. Back then, there was only one official and very short 90-second teaser trailer available for Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, with sparse dialogue and some key character appearances. I then set out to create a list of predictions (which turned out to be more like a wish list) about what has been happening in the lives of the Stars Hollow crew since the show wrapped up almost a decade ago.
Since then, two full-length trailers and several cast interviews have been released and posted all over Facebook and YouTube, getting fans more excited about the Thanksgiving release, and we now know a little bit more about what has been going on.
Here are some things we know from the trailers:
- There will be four webisodes on Netflix spanning a year in the life of the Gilmore women. Each story will begin at the turn of the seasons.
- I was wrong about Rory having a successful career in New York. In the trailer, she was quoted as saying that it was her time to be “rootless”, and her grandmother Emily was heard asking how long she intends to carry on with her “vagabond existence”, confirming that Rory is going through some kind of personal crisis.
- Actor Edward Hermann’s death (he played Lorelai’s father Richard Gilmore) was incorporated into the mini-series. The teaser shows shots of Lorelai and Rory teary-eyed at a funeral (presumably his), but careful effort was exercised to make it less depressing for fans of the Richard-Emily tandem.
- We also know that Lorelai’s best friend Sookie St. James (portrayed by Melissa McCarthy), will be in the mini-series. Also making appearances are all of Rory’s ex-boyfriends, her best friend Lane, the Town Hall meetings (a character by themselves), and that strange, strange man named Kirk. I for one would like to know why he was having dinner with the Gilmores in the trailer.
- Luke and Lorelai are still together, but Lorelai seems to be having an existential crisis herself. She is not wearing a wedding in ring in the trailer, and was shown saying that she was happy with Luke, but it sounded more like a question than a confident declaration.
Wise sayings about leaving the past behind and never looking back do not apply to TV reunion episodes, because every fan knows that a quick review is necessary in preparation for the big day. In this article, I will be recapping the previous seasons, and talking about my favorite scenes, episodes, and dialogues.
(Spoiler alert! – Seasons 1-7)
For the uninitiated, Gilmore Girls follows the story of Lorelai Gilmore, a struggling young single mother, and her teenage daughter Rory, whose lives in the quiet, small town of Stars Hollow, Connecticut are fueled by witty banter, junk food movie nights, and lots and lots of coffee. Written for The WB by Amy Sherman-Palladino in 2000, the scripts for each episode were supposedly about 30-40% longer than the average 45-minute show, because of their trademark mile-a-minute dialogue filled with anything from mindless funny chitchat to obscure pop-culture references.
Season 1 – Viewers are introduced to the main characters as they have their usual morning coffee at Luke’s Diner in the pilot scene. The season circles around Rory’s acceptance to Chilton, a fancy prep school that will almost guarantee entry to the university of her dreams, Harvard. Here we learn that Lorelai got pregnant with Rory when she was sixteen years old, and ran away from her filthy rich parents in stuffy, suburban Hartford to raise her daughter on her own. She is forced to reunite with them in order to ask for help with Rory’s tuition. The relationship is clearly strained, but all parties seem to want to make it work for Rory, and their efforts remained to be one of the better story lines in all seven seasons.
Favorite episode: Rory’s Dance (ep 9) – Rory goes to her first formal at Chilton Prep with Dean, the cutest new guy from her old high school. It was in this episode that they decided to be boyfriend and girlfriend. We also meet Tristan Dugray, Chilton Prep’s resident bad boy (portrayed by Chad Michael Murray before his OC fame), who seems to have taken more than the usual interest in Rory, much to her dismay. Lorelai and mother Emily get a scare when they realize that Rory stayed out all night. Nothing weird happened – she and Dean just fell asleep at Miss Patty’s dance studio, where they hung out all night reading Dorothy Parker (aww).
Memorable quote: “Because sometimes you have something you need to say but you can’t because the words won’t come out or you get scared or you feel stupid, so if you could write a song and sing it then you could say what you need to say and it would be beautiful and people would listen and you wouldn’t make a complete idiot out of yourself, but all of us can’t be songwriters so some of us will never be able to say what we’re thinking or what we want other people to know that we’re thinking so we’ll never get the chance to make things right again ever.” – Rory, Love, Daisies and Troubadours (ep 21)
Season 2 – Lorelai gets engaged to Rory’s English literature teacher Max, and Rory continues dating Dean, and while he seems to be the perfect first boyfriend for a 16-year old, the relationship is plagued by the usual pubescent melodrama, as they both go to different schools. Tristan continues to pursue Rory, and they actually end up sharing a clandestine kiss at one point, something that Tristan did not waste any time sharing with the enraged Dean. Lorelai and best friend Sookie set the wheels in motion toward their dream to run their own inn. Lorelai breaks off her engagement for no apparent reason other than that he did not feel that Max was the right one for her. Rory is intrigued by Jess, the mysterious new boy in Stars Hollow.
Favorite episode: It’s hard to choose since this is my favorite season, but I would go with The Road Trip to Harvard (ep 4). After breaking off her engagement, Lorelai escapes small-town questions by taking the long drive to Boston and Cambridge with Rory. Rory sees Harvard for the first time since she was a little girl, and trespasses into a freshman dorm room, and an actual Harvard lecture class, where she briefly participates in the recitation.
LORELAI: Huh. You know what I just realized? “Oy” is the funniest word in the entire world.
LORELAI: I mean, think about it. You never hear the word oy and not smile. Impossible. Funny, funny word.
EMILY: Oh, dear God.
LORELAI: Poodle is another funny word.
EMILY: Please drink your drink, Lorelai.
LORELAI: In fact, if you put oy and poodle together in the same sentence, you’d have a great new catch phrase, you know? Like, oy with the poodles already. So from now on, when the perfect circumstances arise, we will use our favorite new catch phrase.
RORY: Oy with the poodles already.
LORELAI: I’m telling you, it’s knocking ‘whatcha talking ’bout, Willis?’ right out of first place.
EMILY: Lorelai, for God’s sake, be quiet.
Season 3 – Rory’s graduation from Chilton gets closer, and anxiety over university acceptance letters begin. During the town’s annual Star’s Hollow Dance Marathon, Dean realizes that Rory is attracted to Jess and breaks up with her. Much to Lorelai’s dismay, Rory begins dating Jess. The relationship was short-lived but tumultuous, culminating in Jess’ departure from Stars Hollow at the end of the season, breaking Rory’s heart in the process. Rory gets her acceptance letters from the Ivy League trifecta, including Harvard, but she chose to go to Yale University instead.
Favorite episode: The Big One (ep 16) – Rory and school arch nemesis Paris Gellar get invited to speak together at Chilton’s Bicentennial, and were forced to work together and be friends for a short time while preparing for it. Rory was surprised to find Paris at her house one night with something big to share – she and her boyfriend Jamie had taken things to the next level, and she needed Rory’s opinion on how she should feel about it. She asks Rory if she and Jess have also done the same, to which Rory replied that they had not. Lorelai overhears the conversation and gives herself a pat in the back for raising a good kid. During the speech, Paris reveals that she did not get accepted to Harvard.
Favorite quote: Rory’s speech.
Season 4 – Rory begins attending Yale, while Lorelai and Sookie quit their job at the Independence Inn to begin preparations for the opening of their own Inn, the Dragonfly. Paris becomes Rory’s roommate, and their friendship blossoms. Nevertheless, Rory has a hard time coping with the academic stress at Yale, and could not quite fit in. The romance between Luke and Lorelai develops, culminating in the opening night of the Dragonfly, where they share a kiss. Rory and Dean reunite, and take a major step forward in their relationship, despite the fact that Dean is already married.
Favorite episode: Girls in Bikinis, Boys Doin’ The Twist (ep 17) – Rory very uncharacteristically travels to Florida for spring break weekend with Paris. There they realize that they are simply not spring break people, and plan to spend their evenings watching documentaries. They do end up going out and catching The Shins live in concert and getting inebriated by the beach, where Rory drunk-dials her ex-boyfriend, Dean.
LORELAI: Hi, Rory, it’s me. How’s school? You learning stuff? Listen, we have the horses, Desdemona and Cletus, and the first two rides have to be me and you. And hopefully, you’re over the time that I took you for the pony ride, and the pony was old and just sort of stopped and laid down, and you sort of rolled off into the ditch. It’s really not likely to happen again. I promise. So, call me, call me. [talks to the coachman] Hey, Tom, how do you like our new horses?
Tom: Very fragrant.
Season 5 – Luke and Lorelai’s chemistry begins to be more apparent, but Rory’s father Christopher comes into the picture, putting a damper on the budding romance and confusing Lorelai even further. Rory finally finds her niche in Yale at the school paper. As her relationship with Dean becomes rockier, she meets a new boy in Yale, Logan, who comes from old money and walks among the crowd of her grandparents. However, Logan does not take more than a slight interest in her, much to her disappointment.
Favorite episode: Norman Mailer, I’m Pregnant! (ep 6) – just because Norman Mailer made an appearance as a Dragonfly customer. Rory joins a secret society in Yale in which Logan is a member, and takes a big leap, literally.
RICHARD: Now, in planning our traditional first dance, I gave a lot of thought to the song that would represent the next phase in our marriage. The best phase in our marriage, I believe. I went over all the greats – Bennett, Sinatra, Chuck Berry – and a story popped into my head. Now, most of you know my daughter, Lorelai. When Lorelai was three, she went through a period of having chronic ear infections. It was terrible. Screaming all night long, we couldn’t keep a nanny longer than a week. And so, it fell to Emily to sit with her all night long. She tried everything to calm her down. Finally, she found a song that seemed to soothe her. It was a popular song on the radio and it soon became Emily’s favorite. Of course, it drove me crazy – some woman complaining about how she wanted to marry a man named Bill. Not exactly Cole Porter. Emily would tease me, saying, ‘If only your name was Bill, then this could be our song.’ Well, Emily, for tonight, and tonight only, my name is Bill, and this is our song.
Season 6 – In my least favorite season of all, Rory and Lorelai and Rory have a big fight, and Rory moves in with her grandparents at Hartford. Luke and Lorelai begin seriously dating, but they can’t quite move forward, especially after Luke rejects Lorelai’s out-of-time proposal in season 5. Lorelai starts considering a future with Rory’s father Christopher, but she knows that it still does not quite fit, since Lorelai is still in love with Luke. Rory and Logan begin dating. Jess makes a short appearance in a couple of episodes (presumably to boost the show’s dwindling ratings) and tries, albeit in vain, to romance the pants off the younger Gilmore.
Favorite episode: “I Get a Sidekick Out of You” – Rory’s childhood best friend Lane gets married to her bandmate Zach. For a little while we get a break from Rory’s early quarter-life crisis long enough to go back to part of what made the show tick – the eccentricities of small-town life and its residents. The episode consists of an American Wedding in which Zach’s family fries a turkey whole, followed by a traditional Korean wedding to appease Lane’s conservative mother.
Favorite quote: (During the Editors’ Panel at Yale)
QUENTIN: The struggle to preserve the fundamental principles and rights upon which our free press depends was made far more difficult by the choice of certain reporters who shall remain unnamed [Laughs] To capitulate to governmental pressure and divulge their sources.
LORELAI: He’s unbelievable.
CHRISTOPHER: He’s wearing a bow tie.
LORELAI: Should I dud him?
QUENTIN: I myself have, on occasion, felt tremendous pressure to divulge unnamed sources, but I’ve stood my ground, knowing that while I may suffer for my principled stand, there was a much greater issue at stake.
RORY: If I may? Rory Gilmore, Yale Daily News. While I agree there is no greater or more important tool for a free press than confidential sources, I also think it unwise for us to presume from our limited experiences editing college newspapers that we really have any true understanding of what it must feel like when the Federal Government of the United States puts the screws to you. I just think it would be the height of hubris for us to claim that we know what we would do when faced with that kind of pressure. But that’s just one reporter’s opinion.
LORELAI: We created her.
CHRISTOPHER: Out of thin air.
Season 7 – Finally, we arrive at the last season. It is Rory’s final year in Yale, and Lorelai is finally having some success in business, and in love. In this season, we see Rory happily sharing a dorm room with Logan (whom we all hate. Seriously, did anyone ever really like Logan for Rory?), and Luke finally realizing that it is time to make room for Lorelai in his life.
Favorite episode: Bon Voyage (ep 22), the final one of course. I especially enjoyed how Rory declined Logan’s proposal for marriage, in order to be able to pursue her journalistic pursuits and join Obama’s campaign trail. Never did like the guy.
Favorite quote: Dialogues were noticeably stunted in this season, and had been steadily declining anyway, since Amy Sherman Palladino relinquished screenwriting rights to the show after season 5, so I can’t really remember one that stood out in particular. I did like that the story ended where it started, in Luke’s diner, panning out as the girls have dinner.
And there you have it folks, my version of 7 years in the life of our favorite girls. Meanwhile, as we wait for the upcoming reveal of the eighth, enjoy this trailer, and then get ready to watch the show with me on November 25.