Why Our Generation Is Struggling With The End Of ‘Gilmore Girls’ (Even If It’s Sort Of Perfect)

Warning: This entire post is one giant Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life spoiler. If you haven’t already binge-watched all four episodes while nursing your turkey hangover, what are you doing?! Get on it ASAP.

gilmore girls year in the life
Netflix

As a teenager, Gilmore Girls was not just a TV show; it was a lifestyle.

Like most good Gilmore Girls fans, I spent one hour every single week of my formative years gathered around the TV (tuned into The WB, then The CW) with my mom and sister awaiting each new episode. There was something about the quiet, quirkiness of Stars Hallow that reminded me of my own small town in New Jersey — the small town I didn’t quite fit into, the small town I wanted to leave to become a writer. I, too, had a witty (sometimes stubborn), coffee-obsessed mother who loved me fiercely and without apology. She was and still is like Lorelai, but with a lot less family money and none of the teenage rebellion (at least to my knowledge. Is there something you’re not telling me, Mom?).

By the time Gilmore Girls ended in 2007, Rory was a recent college graduate hoping to make it as a writer in the big city, and I had traded my comfortable childhood bedroom for a cramped dorm in Upstate New York (yes, at a state school. Did I mention the lack of family money?). In a couple of years, I hoped to follow in Rory’s footsteps. I hoped to be a writer, living in a chic city apartment. I hoped to have a boy as gorgeously dangerous as Jess or as charming and handsome as Logan. Did that happen? Sort of. And it sort of happened for Rory too. 

It’s been nine years since Gilmore Girls ended, and when Netflix announced Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life, I was eager to see how Rory turned out. She’s like that old friend I forgot existed — the one I never looked up on Facebook until I saw her face in my “people you may know” list (or rather my Netflix queue). See, Rory was always destined for success. She spent almost every ounce of her effort furthering her career, save a brief lapse in judgement when she got involved with a married Dean. By now, in her 30s, she was surely at the top of her field — maybe at The New York Times or Conde Nast. Either would suffice. 

You can understand my outrage when the Gilmore Girls revival had seemingly betrayed Rory, because in part, they betrayed all of us — those wide-eyed teenagers who watched Gilmore Girls and hoped that if we were just good people who tried hard enough, who loved our family with every ounce of our being and never wavered from our ideals in love and career, everything would work itself out. 

Instead, Rory was 32, moving from her cramped apartment in Brooklyn back to her small town in Connecticut. Her career was tanking — she had a few successful pieces that she thought would kick start her future, but instead, she was stagnant. The job she didn’t even want — the one that was below her creative integrity — begged her to come in for an interview, then rejected her. She even had an affair with Logan, who now lived in London and was soon-to-be married to a French heiress. That whole plot point seemed so un-Rory-like it made my head spin as Rory seemingly floated through the next few hours with everything crashing down around her. She fell asleep during a literal professional interview for crying out loud. What kind of professional journalist does that?

Then, there was the ending — those four, final words that nearly made me throw the Amazon Fire Stick remote across the room, pelting my poor innocent cat. 

Rory: Mom?
Lorelai: Yeah?
Rory: I’m pregnant.

Cue credits.

Are you kidding me?!

It was nine years later, and I was sat in front of the TV with my mom, just as I had been as a teenager, only instead of looking at Rory as someone I aspired to be, I was looking at someone I was afraid to become.

I’m not a teenager anymore. In the latter half of my 20’s, I can technically say I am that big city writer I aspired to be, much like Rory. I, too, am one who has finally found a small piece of success after spending much of the last two years blowing through my savings and bouncing from publication to publication as magazines closed and articles were cut (after all, you’re reading my article right now, so I am gracious). I am about three weeks away from moving home, not because I’m a failure, but because I’m not sure where I want to go (Hello, Rory!). And my boyfriend, much like Logan, is currently asleep in his home outside of London (not a giant fancy apartment, but hey, we can’t all have millionaire dads). I — like many millennials who grew up watching Gilmore Girls — am still awaiting my fairy tale ending, the moment where I can shrug my shoulders, exhale and say, “I did it. My life turned out exactly the way I envisioned.” The exact ending we all thought we were going to get when Gilmore Girls finally ended with the four simple words creator Amy Sherman-Palladino had originally planned.

Listen, I never expected the four final words to be a fairy tale ending. I just expected them to be an ending, but they were an intense cliffhanger that basically shattered my existence. After three days of processing said cliffhanger and coming to terms with the fact that life doesn’t always wrap up in a neat bow, I finally see it. Gilmore Girls was never about Rory’s career or success, as much as we wanted to watch her flourish in adulthood. Gilmore Girls was about Rory’s relationship to her mother and the ending was exactly what we needed to cement that bond in an even deeper and more solid stone. It had all come full circle.

As much as many of us may have seen ourselves in Rory, her life has always paralleled her mother’s except for one major detail — she’s always been more grounded, rational and responsible. It’s unlike her to get into the same kind of trouble, which is why nothing could be more perfect than Rory finding herself in the same situation Lorelai was in 32 years prior. It was a different road to the same place. The ending is especially poignant when you figure this is what Sherman-Palladino originally planned for a 23-year-old Rory when the series first ended. 

Logan is Rory’s Christopher. Both of them are kind but reckless. Both of them grow up into respectable, mature adults — not to mention they’re super romantic (I’m still waiting for a dreamy man to buy me a private getaway where I can write). This is also part of the reason it’s brilliant that Rory visits Christopher to ask him whether Lorelai made the right choice in raising her alone. At first glance, it was research for her book, but really, she was making the difficult decision of whether or not to involve Logan in the life of her future child. 

This moment also foreshadowed the full-circle ending. At the time, we believed Rory couldn’t ask her mother about why she raised her alone because she didn’t approve of the memoir. Through seven years worth of seasons, Lorelai has always been open about her reckless past and all of her mistakes, but suddenly, she didn’t want to air her family’s dirty laundry. That sounds a lot like Emily, right? 

So, Rory has her Christopher, which means she also needs her Luke. Jess is Rory’s Luke. He has always been there, and in early seasons, he was a tough troublemaker who didn’t let people in. Now, as an adult, Jess is the stable choice (shocking considering Logan had previously been a safe bet). He’s mature and caring and has pined for Rory in the way Luke pined for Lorelai through all of her prior relationships.

If the series continued (which is totally doubtful, considering Sherman-Palladino finally got the ending she wanted), Rory would likely choose between Logan and Jess, except the ending hints at the fact that maybe she’d choose neither — and her choice isn’t necessarily important anyway.

Based on Christopher’s answer (yes, Lorelai made the right choice raising Rory alone) and the parallels between Rory and Lorelai’s lives, Rory will be raising this baby alone. Earlier in the show, Lorelai was looking for a surrogate because she wanted a baby, so we know off the bat, this baby will be embraced. All the hints to the pregnancy were there; we just didn’t see them.

In the final scene, Lorelai mentions that Rory will eventually find her life partner, but in Gilmore Girls’ final four words, we realize she already has found that stable, solid person. Her forever person is her mother, who’s always been there and always will be, who will embrace her baby like it’s her own. Whether she chooses Jess, Logan or Dean (please don’t let it be boring, average Dean), that’s just icing, and we don’t need to see it. We’ve already seen seven years of Lorelai struggling with the same situations. Gilmore Girls has finally concluded — with a messy, sort of lopsided bow — but a bow nonetheless.

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