Warning: If you have not seen Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life in its entirety, STOP READING NOW. The below is filled with spoilers.
Rory Gilmore has never been perfect. She's never been the girl walking around with a halo and a book that her mom describes in the earlier seasons of the show. In season four, we see her first real breakdown, as she starts to realize that Yale is harder than Chilton and that she's struggling in her new environment. She sleeps with Dean, her married ex. Not long after, she receives criticism (somewhat harsh criticism for an internship that was only a few weeks, but still) from a supervisor, steals a yacht, gets arrested and drops out of Yale. She moves into her grandparents' pool house and doesn't talk to Lorelai for months.
Rory's stumbles in college, although frustrating at times, at least seemed to be the product of her having been raised to think she was the smartest, most capable person in the room—no, in the world—and then getting out into the world to realize it wasn't true. She was young and sensitive, and it took her a little longer than it should have to get over Mitchum's criticism and move on with her life, but we could at least blame it on her sheltered childhood and the fact that she'd never really been rejected for anything before.
Now, at 32, Rory has been rejected by plenty. Although the writers would rather forget about season seven, it was an important moment for Rory. She decided not to pursue graduate school and was rejected from the New York Times fellowship she really wanted. She was willing to take "any major daily newspaper that would have her," and in the end, wound up taking a gig with an online magazine for the opportunity to show off her skills in the real world covering then-Senator Barack Obama's campaign. It was a turning point for Rory, a time when she put her faith in the idea that she might get the Times fellowship, only to be turned down. She was disappointed, but she didn't steal a yacht this time. We saw real character growth in that moment; we saw a glimpse at the responsible young journalist that Rory was becoming.
Rather than building on that character growth, A Year in the Life gave us all the worst parts of Rory from seasons four through six. It would've been perfectly acceptable to have her rootless and feeling lost without being so completely directionless. After all, it isn't an easy climate for journalists. When Rory was graduating from college in 2007, we hadn't experienced the recession yet. It's easy to believe that Rory could be burned out as a journalist, that she's been working hard but finding the task isn't for her anymore. It's also easy to believe that she'd face the same struggles many professional writers are facing now—with the switch from print to digital and from staff writers to underpaid freelancers, many are finding new ways to cover their bills.
The problem isn't that Rory feels lost and a little aimless in the revival. Many viewers felt she should "have it together" by 32, but I reject this notion. Rory graduated at a time of immense economic upheaval in this country, and at the same time, the industry she'd based her career in was experiencing major shifts. I know many people who, at 32, don't feel they have it together. The problem is more in Rory's reaction to these challenges. Unlike the Rory who would take any terrible story Paris assigned her for the Chilton newspaper just to prove herself, this Rory can't even be bothered to prepare the bare minimum for a job interview at online media startup Sandee Says. She deigns to even take a meeting with the CEO who has been headhunting her, and then shows up without any pitches and without any knowledge about what the site publishes.
Get it together, Rory. Learn more responsibility. The storylines from the show's original run that were hardest to swallow were moments when Rory leaned on her privilege—her grandparents' or Logan's wealth, especially—instead of working hard to accept and overcome challenges. We don't see her having changed much in the revival, except to see that she's barely reading (although her love of books is alluded to by just about every character she announces her own memoir to, we never see evidence), jet-setting back and forth to London to sleep with an engaged Logan (did she learn nothing from Dean?), and even when she has privilege and opportunity to back her up, she won't accept it. She's unhappy that her current apartment is in Brooklyn, which is "done," even though we're all pretty sure she's not footing the bill for the rent for the place, given that she's a broke freelancer with no steady income. She only gets a meeting with GQ because of Mitchum Huntzberger, and then when she's finally got an opportunity to cover New York City lines for them, she screws it up by falling asleep while she's interviewing someone. Many professional journalists take pieces they aren't particularly enthusiastic about every once in a while, especially if it means being able to pay their bills on time. Instead, Rory gives up her Brooklyn apartment and is privileged enough to be able to move back in with Lorelai rent-free, and she's still cranky about it, telling everyone she sees that she's "not back!"
All this would even be okay—not totally excusable, but at least understandable—if it were written into the first two or three episodes as Rory's reaction to the grief of losing Richard, and along the way, a few people told her off for this lack of responsibility. (Emily and Lorelai love to yell at each other, but they both should've yelled at Rory instead.) And then, toward the end, Rory got her act together, dealt with the mess she'd made and turned things around, much like she did when she realized she was being too sensitive about Mitchum's criticism. Grief is a very real factor, and we did see a little into how Rory feels when she goes to write her book in Richard's study. But it would've made a bigger impact if her recent forays into directionless, irresponsible behavior had been attributed to grief, and she'd made some actual progress by the end of the revival.
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