The 'Gilmore Girls' Cast Shouldn't Have To Defend Their Characters' Actions In The Revival
Spoilers ahead. If, much like myself, you sometimes look to popular culture in order to draw strength or inspiration from your favorite characters, then it's possible that you may have felt a little let down in the women of Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life. After all, there were more than a few disappointing moments in the Gilmore Girls revival when it came to how the three main generations of Gilmore women conducted themselves and made decisions. However, on Tuesday night during a panel discussion hosted by SAG-AFTRA, the Gilmore Girls cast defended the actions of their characters.
Streamed via Facebook Live, panel moderator Gazelle Emami was asking questions concerning the revival to Lauren Graham, Alexis Bledel, Kelly Bishop, and Scott Patterson when the issue of fan "backlash" against their characters in A Year In The Life was raised. Speaking of some fan criticisms of A Year In The Life against the main characters for being "kind of awful sometimes and a little bit selfish," Emami used Rory's poor, neglected boyfriend Paul (whom nobody remembers) as one such critical example of their irksome behavior.
Thankfully, all four cast members seemed prepared to defend their characters' rights to act in such a way.
While Patterson made the simple (yet fair) assertion that “Paul was a sacrificial lamb, and he knew it... the audience knew it,” Graham managed to delve further into how the characters' occasionally unfavorable behavior plays perfectly into the tone of A Year In The Life, and Gilmore Girls as a whole:
...I know what you mean, but the show has a sense of humor, and that’s its sense of humor. And I think maybe it feels a little different; Rory’s not in high school anymore, so yes, as grown women constantly forgetting… I just thought it was a funny runner. But the whole show has a kind of heightened theatrical quality. I mean, just... don’t take it literally. But unlike that, to me it was more of a metaphor for, this isn’t the right guy, and this is how they communicate about it...
Firstly, Graham touches upon a really important point here. Gilmore Girls always possessed a certain whimsical theatrical charm, which allowed for its plot to be rooted in a standard realm of realism. A Year In The Life really heightened this aspect of the show, with unexpected musical performances and fully choreographed sequences. As such, nothing should be taken too literally within the Gilmore Girls — which, though it does drama exceptionally well and with great heart, is at its core, very much a comedy.
When it comes to both drama and comedy, characters who can be awful, make terrible decisions, and come out with dreadful statements can sometimes be the most compelling for it. In the case of Gilmore Girls, it's these qualities that can often drive the plot and stir up some great humor. A Year In The Life just amplified these qualities to befit the change in format. After all, the sorts of events that would take place within six or so episodes of a standard season are instead packed into a 90 minute movie, perhaps highlighting some of the less appealing traits of characters by doing so.
But then there's also the fact that flawed characters, ones who are even indefensible at times, can still make for great viewing. Not every lead character, after all, has to be likable in order to be compelling. Throughout Gilmore Girls and A Year In The Life, Rory and Lorelai certainly showcased less than likable traits. But I'd also argue that their flaws are also inherently fascinating, and it's these traits that make the characters feel more human within a story that can be so whimsical and theatrical that it feels unreal at times.
Enjoying the intrigue of struggling to understand a character is something that Bledel mentioned she experienced herself with Rory's arc in A Year In The Life. Speaking at the panel, she explained that she was just as bemused as many fans were by Rory's frustrating attempts at a love life, stating:
I think I’m always trying to understand where Rory’s coming from in the choices she makes in her romantic life, because she’s so together and so successful in everything she does, really, until these episodes start... But she’s just so hardworking, and I think it’s an interesting part of her character, but one that I’ve always struggled to understand — she always kind of picks people who are very different from one another and who challenge her, fortunately, but who don’t necessarily bring out the best in her.
Bledel's observations on her character could also well be made for some of the choices that Lorelai has made in her life, too. But I'd argue that these qualities are also a pivotal part of what makes Gilmore Girls the enjoyable story that it is. This has never been a TV show that consistently delivers exactly what the fans want to see. Rather, it's been a show that develops characters into flawed and fascinating subjects who follow their own trajectory. And that's often in spite of whether that trajectory is right, wrong, or something that might downright upset or annoy fans to see.
Though It was irritating to watch Rory be complicit in a destructive affair with Logan (especially when Jess was there making those puppy dog eyes at her through the living room window, my heart), and it was galling to see Lorelai repeatedly say and do the wrong thing when you hoped that she'd be doing better, both of their arcs felt true to their character. And, whether we enjoyed that or not, fans would surely be lying if they said that they expected anything better from the two. We know these characters by now, and they may not ever be perfect, but I love them all the same and they're utterly compelling for their flaws.
Images: Netflix (3); Giphy