Watching the new GG was like what I would imagine to be like going to a Backstreet Boys reunion concert at the age of 32: warm, fuzzy nostalgia that washes over any imperfections.
But nothing escapes the vigilance of the sprightly Linguini (that’s me). Nothing.
Before analysing the sociocultural linguistic features of the series, let me preface by saying that Gilmore Girls a Year in a Life is a creation of a self-obsessed egomaniac. If you’ve ever seen an interview with the show’s creator, you’d see and hear her through the characters, a bit like Woody Allen: in almost every film he’s ever directed, you can see Woody Allen in the lead male actor speaking with the same neurotic pitch, same nebbishy hand gestures. Or maybe the show’s success is due to an egomaniac meeting the perfect egocentric to create a story that celebrates them. Because, if you’ve read Lauren Graham’s book Speaking as Fast as I Can, you’d learn that egocentrics run in packs. Graham stops short of declaring the new GG series a salute to herself and all of her mates that she tried to get on the show.
Circularity and the cycle of life is the overarching theme of the new installments, and each episode represents a season. I quite like that the connection between nature and life is present in the show, but this is limited and I have identified some problematic themes of my own:
2016 Stars Hollow is brimming full with Equality and Diversity, ‘outing’ Michel (as if we didn’t know) and smothering any chuckles about it (please compare this refreshing attitude to this!). The overzealous attempt to hold Stars Hollow’s first Gay Pride Parade feels forced and disjointed. Doosey, the town selectman is a traditional character, and it seems unlikely that he would get behind the idea with such conviction. Additionally, this preoccupation with homosexuality is not something that kids these days fuss over. Whether someone is gay or not, is of natural course to young people today.
GG shifted from thinking ‘There’s nothing funny about being a lesbian‘ to taking a proactive stance to ‘outing’ people, such as Doosey, the town selectman. Why is ‘outing’ even necessary? Because it is the unmarked status? Love is love.
Speaking of love, the issue or surrogacy is bantered about, probably as it was topical at the time of writing. Luke and Lorelai are considering having a baby (for all the wrong reasons might I add: Lorelai is scared that Luke might feel like he missed something if they don’t have a child). Since Lorelai is at an age where conceiving chances are slim, they consult a surrogate specialist – Paris. The way surrogate women are represented is akin to discourse of farm animals: bargain basement breeders, for you, I pull out the prime meat, breeders,
Surrogacy seems to be shrouded in a mist of an unspoken reference to prostitution. Luke is confused about whether he would have to physically have sex with the potential surrogates, suggesting that planting a baby in a woman’s body and paying for it does not amount to human trafficking. Unfortunately, this isn’t developed further and remains a flaccid attempt at a funny scene.
Paris Geller, who is the head of this surrogacy company is one of the saddest characters on GG. After a lonely, friendless and loveless childhood, followed by neglected adolescent years albeit academically astute, Paris emerges as an insecure, neurotic divorcee. Still pretty much friendless, (unless you count her as Rory’s ‘angry friend’), Paris is unhappy and unable to trust those around her. Seeing other reviews of GG on Youtube, many seem to find adult Paris funny. All I see is a miserable person whose lack of positive and active parenting left her no alternative but to to follow her mother’s terrible example to become a money and power-obsessed woman, who, incidentally, oppresses other women in her surrogacy business.
Doing it on spec
The precarity of the job market is one of the themes in this episode. Although any freelance job is unstable, such as Rory’s freelance journalism, this is emblematic of many private sectors moving towards zero-hour contracts, fixed-term contracts and other such ills. Although Rory claims in season 3 that she loves Ayn Rand, she is definitely not in a hurry to embody Howard’s ideals. Condé Nast is serious journalism?
The absent referent is no longer absent when Kirk, walking around Stars Hollow’s international food festival, is horrified to see a whole pig spit-roasting next to his jubilant pet pig Petal. Luke challenges Kirk’s hypocrisy when pointing out to him that he had b***n in his BLT. This is such a welcomed change from the old run. However, like the lamb’s fate from the old series, this is also not extended and developed and the scene ends with Kirk running away after Petal.
The 30-something gang: “the real world spit them out like a stale gum”.
A very true observation of this generation in Western society: 30-something year-olds, educated and bright who find themselves, either jobless, lost, or both, back with their parents. Where education has become a synonym for business enterprise, and capitalism and corporations synonymous with government, we see an important increase in 30-something people who cannot find a footing in the world.
With governments shaking off their financial support from higher public education (at least this is the case in the UK), so these institutions turn to revenue generation that shifts the focus from the students’ needs to the school’s financial survival. Moreover, there is a lack in governments planning future workforce requirements resulting in hoards of first-class graduates in Modern Foreign Languages specialising in Latin and French who then find themselves frustrated at the paucity operis. (Latin!)
Our society has become so fragmented that parental or familial support is considered ‘admitting defeat’, as Rory said. ‘I’m not back!’ she exclaims for the first 10 minutes of the episode. Bursting with anything but glamoured financial fairy dust and material success in Western society is considered a failure. We are not flexible, patient nor permitting any mistakes neither with ourselves nor others and demand that if we, the older generation managed it, so should you.
Rory: “I’m pregnant.”
More than serving the circle-of-life theme, the issue of pregnancy is another emblem of the 30-something gang phenomena.
Certainly in my circles, it seems as though pregnancy comes as a surprise, even to 30-something, educated women. I recently talked to one of my friends whom I hadn’t seen for 6 years and by now has had two children. When asked how she finally made the decision to have children, she said, “Actually, it was my husband’s decision”.
The question that needs to be asked is if Gilmore Girls is a kind of exemplar, or a glimpse of general societal trends (which I think it is to some degree), then where are women? My anecdote and GG seem to suggest that women are still not empowered enough, or in control enough of their bodies and the decision of getting pregnant is not wholly theirs.
Additionally, it seems as though pregnancy is the go-to project for women, who, like Rory, feel lost and aimless, think that a baby would provide that self-actualisation and direction. This observation cannot be generalized without further research, but it does seem to tap into the construction of the new social phenomena of the 30-something gang and the inequality between men and women. The need and method for self-actualisation is defined differently by different people, but it all starts with what access we have and to which resources. Starting with education, fewer women access certain ‘male’ subjects at school. This influences their career choices, both from their own perception and actual admission, not to mention the inequality women face within male-dominant professions and the difficulty of integrating into that workforce. This is a self-perpetuated cycle. For example the field of Construction does not see many females both because it is perceived by society (and its gender-specific roles) as a male-orientated and unfeminine profession that is reinforced by male dominance in society itself and within the field.
Did you watch the GG revival? What did you think? Leave me a comment!