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!

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