Rory Gilmore has no idea what’s happened to her life.
Once an acclaimed academic princess, she’s faltered her way out of Yale University, the path to journalism success and even her mother’s cozy home. Why?
She doesn’t know.
I don’t know what was more rewarding about Gilmore Girls last night; the utter simplicity of Rory’s confession of confusion to Jess or just how that ‘I don’t know’ reverberated through every character in the episode.
Rory doesn’t know why her life has evolved into an endless rut. Lorelai doesn’t know just how to reel her daughter in from said rut (as well as what colour to paint her house), and Emily doesn’t know why her controlling parenting methods worked to drive both her daughter and granddaughter away.
Gilmore Girls’ writing prowess has always been prevalent; the characters regularly spew monologues the size of Shakespearean plays. Often times, despite the quality of the dialogue, I find that the main themes of the episodes are lost in the excessive banter. This week the show seemed to tone that down; the result being an almost perfect depiction of the all too common perplexity that comes with life at every age.
That the show was able to grasp the ‘I don’t know’ issue with such ease and universality was a great feat accomplished, especially considering it is in its sixth year of production.
When television shows are brought to life, writers and creators have a good idea of the basic defining arcs of a character’s existence. As a show ages and the stories are doled out, the writers face the challenge of keeping the characters fresh as the day they created them. Often times, this challenge is amplified when the program focuses on youthful characters, who as years past, must mature into grown-up storylines that aren’t as appealing as the excitement of adolescence. Or so the belief is.
The brilliance of Gilmore Girls lies in its ability to depict every character as the youthful, faltering human being they are deep down inside. So while Rory may be stuck in a 20-year-old rut of existence, her struggles can be paralleled with that of her 35-year-old mother and retirement-aged grandmother. All of them Don’t Know and are as uncertain about the transitory steps of their life as the rest of us. It is these subtle transitions that are often missed in the writing of great roles. Instead of diminishing their importance, Gilmore Girls highlights that frustration, making the struggle ever-more real for the viewer.
In every episode of the season so far, I’ve wanted Rory to fall back to her mom’s embrace and cry out her frustrations about the mistakes she’s made. I want Lorelai to fully confront Emily about their broken relationship, while having Emily realize that her overbearing demeanor affects just about everyone around her. It would be cathartic to see, but have they done it? No. Rory, Lorelai and Emily are in transition periods, making their way through a world where resolutions are few and far between.
As viewers, we walk that journey with them. Where will it lead?
I don’t know.
But that’s a good thing.