Monday, March 3, 2014

At Long Last, Gilmore Girls (Season 7)

Yes, I know the Oscars were last night; and no, I don't have any particular feeling about the winners. In fact, except for Gravity, I'm not sure I've seen any of the major nominees.

Instead of going to the movies to see ::checks online to see what's playing at the local and only theater, realizes that nothing nominated is playing:: some movie, Sarah and I recently finished the last few episodes of Gilmore Girls. And I have thoughts.

Part of me wonders what this last season would have looked like if Sherman-Palladino/Palladino were kept on as writers/producers. I... am not sure. When the season started, I thought I detected a shift in both plots and writing--some things were a little more melodramatic, while the witty banter wasn't quite as witty. And yet, I wonder if that was more my bias than any objective shift in the show. After all, sure, Sherman-Palladino had left and was a unique creative force; but it's not like the new writers had to start all over. All the actors were still there, all the crew too, probably. So when Lorelei and Rory have a walk-and-talk through the town in season seven, there's probably more things that have stayed the same than have changed.

Still, even though the last few episodes wrapped things up nicely in many regards, I'm still not entirely thrilled with the season seven treatment of Christopher.

But looking back, and after talking it over with Sarah, I think Gilmore Girls has a nearly perfect balance of low-stakes angst and low-stakes joy.

Low stakes?
I mean, there are no world-destroying storms or soul-sucking vampires. What's the worst that can happen in the Gilmore Girls world? There's no murder or rape. The worst thing that can happen is that people occasionally get into fights. And they're serious fights about serious issues and real feelings. But they're not blowing up relationships. Things will go on--at least among the main relationships, the Gilmore women.

Angst and joy
Lorelei and Rory may be fantasy figures in several ways--all that eating, no exercise--but for most people, they're fantasy figures because of their close mother-daughter/friend-friend relationship. Not everyone has that relationship. More likely, your average viewer sees a similarity between her own mother-daughter relationship and the rather more angsty Emily-Lorelei relationship. And by giving us both relationships, the show poses us between an aggravating truth and a pleasant fantasy. We can fear that Lorelei and Rory will descend into Emily and Lorelei land; or we can hope that Emily and Lorelei will turn into Lorelei and Rory. Either way, we're engaged with our hopes and fears, between what we don't want to have (but probably do) and want to have (but probably never can really imagine).

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