That Gilmore Girls Ending was Fitting, but Frustrating as Hell

Let’s just get this out of the way now: this post is going to spoil the hell out of the Gilmore Girls revival—including its ending and famous last four words. If you’re not caught up and want to remain unspoiled, now is the time to call in sick and start binge-watching.

Now, then: let’s go ahead and begin with the ending. Gilmore creator Amy Sherman-Palladino always had a strong, specific vision in all things—from casting to precisely how her beloved series would end. Fans have waited years to find out what the Stars Hollow maestro intended the last four words of the show to be—and over the weekend, they finally got their wish. Here, for those who need reminding, is an exact transcript:

Rory: Mom?
Lorelai: Yeah?
Rory: I’m pregnant.

The moment came as a shock to many fans, who were stuck wondering if they had just witnessed the Sopranos finale all over again—sudden, controversial, potentially infuriating. It was particularly galling in light of the fact that Sherman-Palladino and her husband-slash-co-show-runner, Dan Palladino, left the series at the end of Season 6, leading many fans to disavow the original Gilmore Girls’s conclusion. The revival was their chance to finally end this story their way—and, presumably, stick the landing better than the original series did without them at the helm.

It’s no small irony, then, to learn that Sherman-Palladino apparently always meant to end the show with such an abrupt, unresolved twist. But if you think about it, her decision makes total sense—whether you agree with it or not.

The Gilmore world is lousy with unexpected pregnancies: they’ve befallen Lorelai, Sherry, Lane, both Luke’s sister Liz and his ex Anna Nardini, and Sookie. (That last baby, you will recall, came after Jackson led Sookie to believe he’d had a vasectomy.) In Sherman-Palladino’s world, surprise pregnancies far outnumber planned ones—and the women involved always choose to carry the babies to term. Just as childbearing is basically inevitable in this world, its consequences are what give the show most of its meaning. Lorelai herself had all sorts of lofty, rebellious aspirations—but in the end, becoming a teen mom and raising her daughter in an environment that was the opposite of her own upbringing was her biggest act of rebellion. Lane’s dreams of rock stardom were pretty much thwarted when she got pregnant with twins. (In the revival, Lane seems fine with how her life has turned out—but at the time it aired, her pregnancy plotline was very controversial.) Sherry is actually the show’s biggest rebel: she decided to leave Christopher with their daughter, Gigi, jetting off to Paris to pursue her career.

So, for all its fast-talking and cultural references, Gilmore Girls is perhaps most concerned with family planning, and how childbearing affects women’s lives. How fitting, then, that Paris has chosen fertility as her line of work—and, even more so, that the only person who ends up pregnant in the revival did so (presumably) by accident.

The path that led Rory to those last four words also seemed appropriate: in the revival, fans find out that she and Logan have a friends-with-benefits arrangement that could roughly be summed up as ”what happens in London stays in London.” Of course, there’s one small hitch, and her name is Odette—Logan’s fiancée. (Technically, there’s another hitch named “Paul,” but given how often Rory forgets her own boyfriend exists, her willful betrayal of him is hardly a shock.) Sleeping with an engaged man is hardly a deviation from the Rory Gilmore playbook—she lost her virginity to a married Dean, after all. And as with Dean, things quickly get messy between Rory and Logan; in the end, they off their affair after one last night of nostalgic debauchery with the Life and Death Brigade.

It’s clear that Rory knows Logan is not real relationship material—and definitely not “daddy” material. Sherman-Palladino has even directly compared him to Rory’s dad, Christopher, who for a good chunk of the series was an absentee father. Perhaps that explains why Rory has an awkward conversation with Christopher near the end of the revival, asking him whether he thinks he made the right choice by letting Lorelai raise her alone. It’s unclear precisely when Rory discovers that she is pregnant—we could always try to gauge it by re-watching to see when Rory stops drinking at her desk)—but if she already knew when she sat down with Christopher, there’s a good chance that their conversation was actually an unwitting counseling session.

So, in every conceivable way, this ending really is about as fitting as it gets. It strengthens the cohesion between the original seven seasons of Gilmore Girls—Sherman-Palladino–infused and not—and establishes this story as a perfect circle that begins and ends with unplanned pregnancy.

Why, then, is the Rory revelation ruffling so many feathers?

Well, fans who found Lane’s pregnancy disappointing—not to mention the show’s general strategy of impregnating all its fertile women—will probably view Rory’s bombshell as being no less obnoxious. The move only carries narrative weight if one assumes Rory will choose to carry the pregnancy to term and raise the baby—an assumption that the show has always made in the past, though that approach was a lot more common when show originally aired. Now, as TV increasingly gives abortion its due consideration, the implication that Rory will make the same decision Lorelai did seems awkwardly presumptuous—especially given Rory’s conversation with Christopher, and the fact that she’s never before expressed even a passing interest in having a baby.

Love her or secretly hate her, most Gilmore fans were rooting for Rory. She’s always been defined by her ambitions—all of which have been nurtured and fiercely protected by her mother, who never minced words about how she wanted her daughter to take a different path from her own. And ironically enough, Rory having a child wouldn’t be following in her mother’s footsteps—because unlike Lorelai, who successfully managed to strike out on her own, we’ve been given no reason to believe Rory can support herself, let alone a child. Sure, at 32, Rory is twice as old as her mother was when she found herself pregnant—but as we spent several hours finding out in the revival, she’s not much wiser. She can’t be bothered to dump a perfectly decent guy who just happens to be—gasp!—boring; instead, she chooses to have affairs. She shows up to job interviews completely unprepared. She can’t find her underwear.

At every turn in the revival, Rory destroys any fantasy that she might have grown into her aspirations; instead, she’s pretty much grown into a disaster. The series has always used foils that border on caricature to remind us of Rory’s righteousness—e.g., early Paris Geller, Jess’s stereotypical bimbo girlfriend, Shane, and Dean’s selfish ex-wife, Lindsay Lister. Netflix’s installment is no different. Now, Rory consistently battles comparisons to the “Thirtysomething Gang”: millennial stereotypes who live with their parents, travel in a herd, and love kitsch. Rory loves to sneer in their direction, but this time, it’s hard to see what, exactly, makes her better than they are. The only difference between her and them is that Rory seems to lack the self-awareness to recognize that she too embodies all of the most pernicious stereotypes about millennials.

So perhaps this ending isn’t disappointing solely because of Rory’s pregnancy. Maybe those of us who are frustrated aren’t just reacting to that—we’re also being forced to realize that the youngest Gilmore girl, somebody hordes of fans grew up aspiring to be like, has turned out to be such an unrepentant mess. And now, more than ever, it seems pretty unlikely that she’ll ever get her shit together.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login