Saturday, February 20, 2016

Gilmore guys and unfinished business

The Gilmore Girls cast including two of the three returning love interests, Dean and Jess (bottom L & R). (Warner Bros)

The past year and a half has seen Gilmore Girls go from age-inflicted obscurity to the shining beacon of the revived television zeitgeist, and I have a lot of feelings about it. Most of them involve me breathing heavily into a paper bag because I'm so excited that I'm becoming a emotional wreck.

As a loyal viewer of the show since my 12th year of life (which was also Gilmore's 5th season), I have been waiting for this moment like a dog waiting for food to fall from the dinner table. Every time someone figuratively shifted in their chair - I see you, Gilmore Guys episode where Scott Patterson suggested the show might come back - I ran and yelped and begged for food, but to no avail. It all just felt like a big tease.

And then it happened. Somehow, my years of waiting patiently had been given a purpose: to bring me to the day when I could finally say once again: "I'm watching Gilmore Girls tonight." Well, the premiere date for the Gilmore reunion hasn't been set yet, so I'm still waiting on the day when those words will pass my lips. But just the knowledge of a return has turned me into a loon who spends practically all of her free time thinking about the show.

To be brutally honest, there was only one thing I needed from this revival. And recently, my dream came true.

From my perspective, there was a satisfying finality to Gilmore Girls' season 7 ending. Though the infamous loss of Amy Sherman-Palladino as showrunner before the final season will never be excusable, the path that the characters took did not feel wholly inauthentic. (Warning, spoilers ahead!) Lorelai ending up with Luke was certainly no surprise and Rory putting her work before her relationships was a pretty fitting way to end the series.

Yet in the latter case, I couldn't help but feel that the story never seemed complete.

Recently the news surfaced that not one, not two, but all three of Rory Gilmore's love interests will be returning to Gilmore Girls. And while my feminist side wants desperately to say "who cares? Rory is better off focusing on her career because boys don't matter," I just can't not feel an incredible sense of relief that the loose ends will be finally tied up in this area.

A little over three years ago, I wrote a blog about my feelings on Rory's three boyfriends. At that point, I decided that after years of being attracted to the "devil-may-care" boyfriends Jess Mariano (Milo Ventimiglia) and Logan Huntzberger (Matt Czuchry), I'd come to the realization that the "good guy" boyfriend Dean Forester (Jared Padalecki) was the best, most aspirational love interest of the bunch.

In the years since and a ton of repeat viewings later, my inclination has changed once again, perhaps with even more discerning insight.

If you listen at all to Gilmore Guys podcast, you know that hosts Kevin and Demi (until recently) were decidedly anti-Jess. They weren't exactly Team Dean or Team Logan, however they were pretty confident that Jess was a bad fit for Rory.

For a while I felt this way too.

Now, as the series reboot is in production on the WB Studio Lot and I spend practically all my available brain space on Gilmore Girls theorizing, I've arrived at a new perspective on the "stable of hot boys" (inside Gilmore Guys reference) and how I actually hope the story arrives at a fair and satisfying end.

While many fan theories stand against the trope of "girl ends up with boyfriend from her youth after years apart," I'm going to play devil's advocate. So here it goes...

I believe Rory Gilmore and Jess Mariano are meant to be together.

As fans of the show will undoubtedly be aware, the relationship between Rory and Jess in high school was not a good one. He flirted with her while she was in a relationship, she flirted back and kissed him without being honest with her boyfriend about her infidelity, when they got together their relationship was dramatic and childish, he eventually left without even saying goodbye.

It was as the story progressed and the characters grew older that I believe their paths to one another started to become less marred by weeds. Jess leaves town in season 2, breaking up with Rory without a word, but upon his return in season 4 something has changed. He forgoes his distant and mysterious persona and tells her outright that he wants to be with her. In his still immature fashion, he asks her to run away with him.

If the story had ended there, I would not be Team Jess.

But when Jess returns again in season 6, there's an obvious shift in their roles. Rory has dropped out of college and lost her sense of self, while Jess has followed a more definitive and mature path in life. An independently published novelist and full-time employee at said publishing house, he knocks sense into Rory's head about her goals. In a sense he reinvigorates her most intrinsic desires when she's at her most lost and vulnerable. If it weren't for Jess's urging, she may not have returned to college, and quite possibly she would not have chosen her career over Logan's proposal of marriage.

With this understanding, as well as the romantic tension between Rory and Jess that is so evident in their last moments together in season 6, how can anyone have any doubt that the story has set everything up for their inevitable reunion?

The way the Rory-Jess story ended was deeply disappointing because it did not feel like it was truly over. They kissed and Rory broke it off because she was still involved with Logan - the same she had done when she kissed Jess while she was with Dean four seasons earlier. The parallel suggests the same depth of passion and unfortunate timing.

I just can't see any other outcome than a rekindled romance being quite as gratifying.

The last time I tried to quantify how many times I'd seen each episode of Gilmore Girls I said somewhere around five or six times. Three years later, I'd probably place each episode at around 10 to 15 times, and for those I really love potentially 20 to 30 views apiece. I know that seems like lunacy. Gilmore Girls has become like my Bible (pardon the sacrilege), defining the way I perceive and interact with the world.

What I want from the revival is the finale we've been waiting for since 2006 (a year before the show ended). Based on what we know of the characters, there are certain obvious routes we must travel down, and to see those play out not just in the fan fiction in my brain, but with actual characters on actual sets with actual dialogue would (nay, will) be a dream.

From one Gilmore Girls fangirl to the many, we've been waiting for this for so long. However you feel it should end, I'm sure we can all feel the same in saying we're ready to find out: Copper boom!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Primrose Hill Contradiction, a poem

I see the sun peek through a cloud on Primrose Hill. (Rachel Poletick)
I did not feel my best today. But sometimes when we're at our worst, life gives us a moment to contemplate on our best. When I consider me at my best, most thoughtful self, I think of poetry.

So here is one I wrote a while back, in a moment of quiet observation. I don't consider it a masterpiece. I've never felt terribly eager to publish it before today. But in the vein of living in one's past, present and future with equanimity, I thought I might share.

Primrose Hill Contradiction

This hill is vibrant
Full of voices and cameras
Chatter and clicking interchangeably
It's a moment in time
That catches you and makes you
Perceptive, even if you didn't want to be.

The view pierces previous thought
Where iron and glass
Meet stone and brick
Which in turn meet leaves and bark
A line which seems impenetrable,
Yet almost so close as to reach it.

I'm not sure how I came to be here,
How I can be so close to life,
Yet miles away.

But somehow it feels perfect,
Unchangeable and unfathomable
All at once.

And I know I must come back.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Always have existed, always will exist

It is 2016. I am 23 years old. I have dark hair, brown eyes, olive toned skin. I know these things, but I also know they won't last forever. Nothing lasts forever.

Every stage of life has felt, at least in some respect, like a continuation. I have never stopped feeling like a kid, never stopped feeling like a teen, never stopped feeling like an undergrad, never stopped feeling like an intern. Though all those stages in my life have elapsed, in my mind they are all still vibrantly, almost tangibly real.

Though it's been a few years since I picked up the book, there is one thing in particular I remember quite vividly from reading Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five: This notion of time existing not as a straight linear progression, but on a sort of continuum. It's somewhat akin to Doctor Who lore. Instead of living in a location bound by space and time, it's the suggestion that we can live outside of our temporal reality and extend our consciousness to past and present.
"The most important thing I learned on Tralfamadore was that when a person dies he only appears to die. He is still very much alive in the past, so it is very silly for people to cry at his funeral. All moments, past, present and future, always have existed, always will exist. The Tralfamadorians can look at all the different moments just that way we can look at a stretch of the Rocky Mountains, for instance. They can see how permanent all the moments are, and they can look at any moment that interests them. It is just an illusion we have here on Earth that one moment follows another one, like beads on a string, and that once a moment is gone it is gone forever." (Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five)
While the book reads as science fiction, there is an inherent truth to its message. While we may live in a moment, we are also not entirely separate from our past and our future - particularly the former. At any moment we choose, we can place ourselves in the past through our memories, the future through our plans, and those experiences can feel almost as real as the present. In the case of dreams, they can feel more real than reality.

I may look back at my childhood and think of it as a time long gone and expired, a period in my life to which I may never return. But in a moment of reminiscence, the thoughts and feelings and sensory responses I had can come back and feel wonderfully, occasionally spookily "in the now."

Perhaps this is why it is so difficult to let go of the previous versions of oneself. Having experienced the various stages of my life, I live in the memories of them and never feel like they are fully over. Each moment leads into another, making up the whole - a whole which is, by its nature, incomplete because it consists of a future as well.

This is all exceedingly metaphysical and perhaps incomprehensible brain melting philosophizing. Yet it's something I feel plays a hugely important role in life.

Do we live based in our present - a moment to moment progression of events? When each is done, we move onto the next? Or do we reside in a more nebulous space of distinct and relevant past, present and future - perhaps divided into even more meaningful categories of recent past, distant past, soon and faraway future?

To me it seems most definitely the latter, and that's what makes the science fiction of Vonnegut's world so impactful and human. The confusion over identity - in my case whether I'm still a kid, a teen, or a college student even after passing those stages in life - is not a question of truth or fiction, but a confirmation of the existence of this continual process and the fact that in some ways some things do last forever.

It will always have been 2016. I will always have been 23. I will always have had dark hair, brown eyes, olive toned skin. I will always know these things, so that knowledge will last forever (even though I cannot).

There's a bittersweetness to all of this. And I think it's why time is at the center of so much of our culture and our art. Our lives revolve around time. But maybe if we stopped thinking about time as such a static state, it would stop being our enemy and start being our companion and friend. In our finite days we are given infinite opportunities. There's beauty in that, there's beauty in time.