Warning: Spoilers and Strong Language!
In the Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, there is a pivotal scene where Emily sits with the DAR who audition a new recruit; Emily seems disengaged from the proceedings but suddenly explodes, calling all of it “bullshit”. Not only is it a fun and liberating moment for Emily (and the audience), it is a watershed moment for the show.
Kelly Bishop talked to Michael Ausiello of TVLine.com about the expletive-filled scene, calling it “so much fun” for her. She did explain that the fast-paced dialogue in the scene was difficult for some of the actresses who had not worked on the show previously. She compared it to double-dutch jumproping, forcing you to step in at just the right moment and keep up the pace to avoid stepping on the rope and ending the game.
Carol Hennesy, the main DAR figurehead whom Emily tangles with, describes Emily’s blow-up as a “life-changing choice”. Carolyn described Kelly as:
One of the great, great, great broads. That’s how I refer to her. She is beautiful, smart and wise and so funny. Her sense of humor is like stepping in a big pile of leaves. It crackles. She’s just delicious in every way and she takes no nonsense from anybody. She was razor sharp with her lines and razor sharp with every nuance. It was like a master class.
What leads to this explosion? It’s really the culmination of her entire life, spurred on by two things–the death of her husband and her decades-long battle with Lorelai. Emily and Lorelai’s conflict often centered over the upper class world of debutantes and charity committees that Lorelai rejected when she got pregnant and refused to marry Christopher, running away instead to create her own life. As the Gilmore Girls series started, we saw Lorelai come back to her parents for her daughter’s sake, thrusting her back into conflict with Emily with the added danger that Rory could get sucked up into the world she escaped.
In A Year in the Life, Emily and Lorelai attempt to grapple with loss and each other through a lot of argument but little communication. Both are stunned and confused by what they’re going through. Early on, there is a confrontation in Emily’s kitchen, which was difficult for Lauren Graham as she told the Los Angeles Times:
It was such a hard scene because it was painful. And it was challenging because it meant so much to me and, sometimes when you’re in those kind of scenes, it’s not easy to access. Ed was so important to me. Kelly’s so important to me. The scene is so important. Where we are in that journey of healing sounds macabre in some ways, but I wanted to honor him in some way in the story.
In contrast, she enjoyed the therapy scenes:
Those were fun because sometimes it’s what’s not said that has the most power. And for a show where there is nonstop talking, it was a nice change that Amy and Dan weren’t afraid for there to be some silence and let there be a different pace.
Although the therapy sessions did not appear to be successful, they were part of a process that led to realizations for both characters
I think the beauty of what happens is that Emily and Lorelai end up switching places. Emily declares independence from her old life (“bullshit!”) and has to navigate her place in the world on her own terms just as Lorelai did. Meanwhile, Lorelai is getting married. Not that Lorelai will suddenly care about tablecloth lengths, gloves and proper spacing, at least we hope not.