Friday, January 20, 2017

Inexplicable Gilmore Girls Revival Review: Summer (3 of 4)

Warning: Spoilers follow for the third episode of the Gilmore Girls revival. The image comes from Nerdist’s write-up here.

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh boy.

The third episode is, by far, by leaps and bounds, by miles upon miles, the worst of the Revival series. It’s full of Rory and Lorelai acting awful, and when they aren’t acting horrible, we instead have outlandish scenes with the folks of Stars Hollow and the other side characters. “Summer” is basically a 90-minute fever dream of an episode, and like plenty of other folks on the Internet, I desperately wanted to fast forward through several parts of it.

Let’s start in reverse order: Lorelai leaving Luke for a few weeks to go “wild” seemed like the most absurd bullshit ever. I had a similar reaction to Luke’s – you mean that movie thing? I wasn’t aware it was a thing that people actually did. If anything, it seems like the show’s creators were overestimating how popular Wild is or was, because I’ve pretty much never heard of anyone deciding to “find themselves” in such a fashion.

And, by the way, if someone were to do that, Lorelai Gilmore would be really fucking low on the list. To spoil the fourth episode a bit, we find out that isn’t that sort of person, but I also think she would have come to that realization way, way, wayyyyy before she bought a shitload of stuff and booked the flight out to the Pacific Northwest, or wherever they shot that. The whole exercise felt like the producers learning Lauren Graham had a vacation planned, and they thought, “Hey, maybe we can use this for the show!”

Lorelai is clearly stagnating with Luke. The best place for her to work these issues out would probably be therapy, except that the show has already portrayed her therapist as a doddering idiot now performing in a Stars Hollow musical. This is also when the show’s lack of access to side characters shines through. The original run, the only consistent friend of Lorelai is Sookie, who’s now unavailable because Melissa McCarthy is a big god damn star. Without Sookie, Lorelai has no friends. (And honestly, being friends with Lorelai seems like it would be exhausting.)

Meanwhile, Rory continues to flounder and suck. She graduated from Yale a decade ago, roughly, but seemingly never has any decent ideas of her own, despite being a writer with a journalism degree. So, she’s now (poorly) running the Stars Hollow Gazette, and trying to pitch her mother on the idea of a book about them, except that that’s not really her idea either – it’s Jess’ idea.

Quick aside – Jess! Man, he’s only more of a beautiful bastard as he ages. And now, with the hindsight of time, I will confess two things: 1) He’s by far the best of Rory’s boyfriend options and 2) He is way too good for her. Along with Lane and Zach, and a few other characters, Jess is the only one who grows and seems to learn from past mistakes. He’s shown longing for Rory a little bit, but I think his mindset would change pretty quickly if he learned that she had been cheating for years on her forgettable boyfriend with Logan, who in turn has been cheating on his heiress.

Anyway, Rory can’t get Lorelai to sign off on the book idea in this episode. I’m Team Lorelai on this one – It should be her right to protect her own privacy on this, especially since the first few years of raising Rory sounded pretty hectic and lean, from past episodes. As an outsider, just knowing what we know from previous episodes, Lorelai’s decision to raise Rory completely absent Richard and Emily, and Christopher, seemed unnecessarily harsh to me at times.

Rory’s going to plow ahead with the book anyway though, because that’s easier than going back to grad school, or just working at a shitty journalism or normal job for a while. That’s because whenever presented with a hard choice, Rory’s default is usually to take the easiest option, whether it’s continuing her comfortable affair, or half-assing it with her forgettable boyfriend instead of breaking up, or not preparing for an interview.

If it’s tough, simple work – like delivering the paper – then she’s fine, but anything with nuance seems beyond her, and she’s usually not willing to hurt. The counterpoints would be Lane, who willingly moves out of her mom’s house and slings coffee at Luke’s, or Paris, who tirelessly and exhaustively ponders alternative options. Paris is obviously too extreme at times, but shit, at least she has a plan or plans at all times. Instead, Rory is like a shittier version of Hamlet.

Anyway, I seem to be swearing a lot this entry. Episode three did that to me. Here’s some other shit that happens:

- THE STARS HOLLOW PLAY! Good god. Karen told me this was her least favorite part of the entire Revival series. I mostly rolled my eyes through it. It’s outlandish, stupid and unbelievable, but I didn’t find it to be any more stupid than the usual Stars Hollow bullshit, like Taylor opening / seizing an ice cream shop next to Luke’s by eminent domain. The play is also so stupid that I couldn’t help but laugh at a few portions, which is what they were probably going for with most of the Stars Hollow BS, but it usually comes off as annoying to me.

- April makes a two-scene appearance, as a sort-of rebel MIT grad, and then in the privacy of Rory’s room, more of a Grade-A Nerd you’d expect her to be. I seem to be one of the few April fans on the Internet, but there really isn’t much to go on her from her brief appearance in the Revival.

By the way though, if there is one thing the Revival wants to stress to you, it’s that younger people are the fucking worst. Between the somewhat flippant portrayal of April, and the “ohmygod what is this a CBS sitcom?” running gag about the 30-something gang, there are plenty of potshots at young people. It’s kind of distressing to see Gilmore Girls turn into a “Not in my yard!” kind of show, since the early seasons showed young people (Rory, Paris, April, Lane) mostly as intelligent, somewhat rational people.

- Jess mentions that TJ and Liz have joined a vegetable cult, which seems like an unnecessarily cruel way to yada yada yada them off the show. I never really cared for TJ, but Liz the Space Cadet was a nice sort of balancing act to Luke’s gruffness. In a four-episode series that already has a decent amount of fluff, one heart-to-heart between Liz and Luke wouldn’t have hurt.

- I’ve never watched Bunheads, but apparently, everyone from that show was in this episode. The blonde girl in the 30-something gang, etc. I totally recognized Sutton Foster though, because she’s basically Lauren Graham 2.0. Much like the original, but with improved dancing and singing abilities! Also, both are dynamite late night guests, especially with Craig Ferguson.

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