From what I understand, Season 7 of Gilmore Girls was judged as less than, as compared to the previous six seasons–maybe even a travesty. Something was missing.
That something was creators Amy Sherman-Palladino and Dan Palladino. Beyond being showrunners, they were auteurs, creating a complete living-and-breathing fictional world. Along with writing and directing episodes, they supervised every plotline, word and image . The show had their distinct voice, especially evident in the dialogue and characterizations of Lorelai and Rory Gilmore. This took a lot of work and after six seasons, the Palladinos rightfully asked for extra staff to help ease the grind. Despite excellent ratings for the network, Warner Bros. turned them down and did not renew their contract (they took away their parking spaces suddenly, like a slap in the face). Fans were and are still angry about this, feeling that although the show continued and came to somewhat of a conclusion (Rory graduating and getting a journalism job, Lorelai and Luke reuniting), the show felt unfinished.
The team that Warner hired to replace the Palladinos were certainly talented and “kept the lights on”, but the show wasn’t the same. And ironically, they had to hire extra writers anyhow to make up for the vacuum left.
Ratings sagged and the show was cancelled. The cast and crew didn’t find out until after the season’s wrap party, robbing them of a proper goodbye.
As Gilmore Girls fandom has grown over the years, with the series binge-watched and debated (i.e. the Gilmore Guys podcast and more), Season 7 has been generally derided.
However, when asked about Season 7, Amy Sherman-Palladino said she did not watch it at the time, but has caught up with it on re-runs. She didn’t diss it–seemingly more interested in seeing where the storylines had gone. She obviously wanted to note this information in case she had a chance to finish the show as she had intended, last four words and all. And now she has her chance.
For me, Season 7 is a mixed bag, good with the bad. It’s a testament to the world and characters the Palladinos built so well, giving the new team a clear template to work from.
The biggest problem for me is the handling of Lorelai and Rory, and since they are the center of the show, it is big hole, but not quite a sink hole.
Here’s the good and bad, at least to me:
Chatterbox Lorelai barely speaks in the first two episodes. After grieving the end of her relationship with Luke, Lorelai does start speaking once again and generally the dialogue is good, sometimes sparkling although the signature pop-culture references are muted. Character-wise, she seems to go with the flow and doesn’t drive the action. She falls into marriage to Christopher, then out, then spends time tending to Emily and Rory. However, I did like the way they repaired her relationship with Luke slowly and in an unforced way (Luke calls Lorelai when April is sick, Luke shows his new neice to Lorelai, Luke comes to help with Richard is in the hospital, Luke stitches together the tent for Rory’s goodbye party).
Rory was a biggest letdown for me. We got to know her as a super-bright, super-ambitious girl who dreamed from an early age about attending Harvard and then becoming Christiane Amampour. She pursues these dreams with great persistence despite the many bumps and detours along the way. Relationships are important to her but what we truly admire is her ambition and talent (yea Team Rory!). In Season 7, she becomes a simpering girlfriend type, mooning over Logan, seemingly helpless without him. His ups and downs domiante her life. She’s not the Rory who faces down Paris, talks back to Emily, or takes charge of the Yale Daily News. Also, her passivity over handling her future–fearing a void after graduation, worrying she’ll never get a job as a journalist. Maybe it’s realistic–I had no clue when I graduated. But Rory was always self-driven, better and smarter than us mere mortals.
Paul Anka turned into a fairly regular and rarely seen pooch. Disappointing.
Generally, I found there were some terrific moments in Season 7–actually some of my favorite. Plus in general, the supporting characters and eccentric Stars Hollow happenings were handled much as before.
Here are some of the moments I loved the best:
- Luke and Christopher’s Neanderthal fight in the town square, wrecking the Christmas decorations. This was so primal and satisfying, a long time coming.
- Lane being wheeled through the streets on her bed, Monkees’ style to her baby shower.
- The Knit-a-Thon that Christopher ruins, showing how he doesn’t get or belong in Stars Hollow.
- Lorelai heartbreakingly singing “I Will Always Love You” while Luke looks on.
- Kirk wrecking Luke’s Diner and then opening Kirk’s Diner across the street, taking advantage of the situation, even offering Luke a job application.
- Christiane Amampour giving Rory advice in the final episode, “Bon Voyage”.
- Emily in jail.
In general, I liked how Emily was handled, feeling she stayed in character–as controlling and clueless as ever.
I especially loved Lane’s pregnancy–which apparently Keiko was not thrilled about–because it brought her in direct conflict with her mother. But through this, Lane began to understand her mother’s motivations a bit more, while also hating how much his mother and Zach bonded over the pregnancy.
Paris was as Paris as ever, whether typically crazy detailed plans on her pre-graduation plans or breaking up with Doyle to not influence her choice of graduate school and career direction. I’m always happy whenever there’s a scene with Paris.
And finally, I think they got Luke right. In the absence of Lorelai, they filled the vacuum his family and the other supporting characters–April and the custody battle, his sister Liz and her husband T.J. having a baby, plus Kirk and Zach at the diner. Throughout, Luke showed what an upstanding guy he was and why we got to love him so much.
All in all, whatever the merits or demerits of Season 7, things did feel unfinished leading now to Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. More Gilmore Girls, finally! So for that, I judge Season 7 to be a success. Huzzah!