The Great Mariano

jess.jpgIt’s been more than a few days and I still cannot get over the Gilmore Girls revival brought to Netflix on November 25. I began watching this show at the end of August when one of my friends told me that I remind her a lot of Rory. Before the opening credits of the first episode, I was hooked. Not only because I do see a lot of myself in Chilton-age Rory, but because of the fast-paced, intelligent, frequently book-based banter that takes place.

Rory was someone I found myself admiring, even at 22, a significant number of years older than the show’s young protagonist. She was driven, determined to make it to the Ivy League despite the hardships her and her mother faced early on in their journey together. She was also absorbed by classic literature, drawn in by the words of the literary greats, yet well-rounded and social as well. She had everything going for her. 

Enter the boyfriends. I was never head over heels for Dean, but I didn’t really start to dislike him until his angry side began to show more often (reference the scene when he yelled at Richard rather than taking his legitimate concerns about the car he built Rory into account and responding to them like a normal human being). The whole Donna Reed incident was another hint that he perhaps was not the guy Rory should be spending the rest of her life with, plus his controlling outburst that he would not let Rory have lunch with Jess. I think that bid-a-basket scene is what really sealed the deal for me.

Jess showed up as I was beginning to question Rory’s relationship with Dean, but that didn’t mean I liked him. He was a punk and, more than that, he was a punk who wrote in the margins of Rory’s book! A book he “borrowed” without asking! As a bibliophile, that really, really bothered me. I mean, I hardly lend my books out willingly, so you can imagine how I’d feel about someone just taking one. Although my heart softened a little toward him when he got the Dodger reference. Slowly, he began to grow on me. It was clear that he believed in Rory and that she could be the person to break through an exterior created due to hardships no kid should have to face. They worked well together.

Finally, we got to see them as a couple. And it was…well, not perfect, but it was beautiful. It would have been better if Rory had been able to trust him more, to give him room to be himself instead of always pushing her own expectations on him, but it worked. Until it didn’t. Looking at season six Jess, it’s clear that he needed to leave, that Rory needed to let him go in season four, for him to become the outstanding man he turned into. That doesn’t make it any less heartbreaking to revisit the “I love you.” To recall that Rory is the only one he is ever shown saying that to, and that it remains unreciprocated throughout the entirety of the series, including the revival.

And then there’s Logan. I can see the draw of the Life and Death Brigade, and of Logan himself. He’s cute, charming, and intelligent enough to challenge Rory in a manner similar to Jess. The problem is, instead of pushing her to be a better version of herself, Logan encourages Rory to give in to pressure and defeat, and to act recklessly without regard for consequence. They’ve got wealthy families; rules don’t apply to them. Logan was good for Rory in a way, but he was not her forever.

When she went back to Dean, and slept with him despite his married status, it was clear she was seeking the comfort of a boyfriend who hadn’t left. The timing of it, so closely following Jess’s plea for her to run away with him, cannot be ignored. I feel like Rory never really comes back from this tryst. It’s like when she lost Jess she lost sight of herself, and given the fact that she is always reliant on the men in her life to provide her personality, this is not far off the mark. When she’s single, Rory is boring. It is the men in her life that bring out different parts of her, and it was always Jess who brought out the part that felt most like the Rory I loved from the earlier seasons. It is natural, of course, for people to grow and change, but it is always hoped that they will grow into better people.

Given the events of the revival, that is not the case for Rory. I wish more than anything for this show that she had been single when she went to see Jess in 6×18. That everything had been fixed. Knowing the impossibility of that scenario, going into the revival all I wanted was for Jess to be happy. That doesn’t mean that I wanted him with Rory. That would be the ideal scenario, but really, I just wanted him to break the pattern his uncle had with Lorelei. I wanted him to be independent, to have gotten over the heartbreak he went through over ten years ago. What we got instead was a loving, longing look through a window that went unnoticed and unreciprocated. What we got instead was a future where Rory is homeless, working at a job with no salary, and presumably raising the baby of a man she should never have stayed with in the first place.

It all feels a little too much like The Great Gatsby for my liking. The class struggles, the old flame that comes back with more to offer this time around, and the girl who just toys with his heart like it doesn’t mean a thing. I firmly believe all the speculation about the storyline coming full circle, about Logan being Rory’s Christopher and Jess her Luke, who she will eventually end up with. It was emphasized a lot, and even stated by Lorelei at one point. The problem with that is that I wanted more for Jess Mariano. He was one of the few upstanding characters on this show, even during his questionable teenage years, and he did not get what he deserved.

Did he write another book? Has he had any relationships since Rory? Will they ever actually discuss any of the things that happened between them? Is he going to be the one to edit and publish her book? We don’t learn anything new about him. We learn more about Dean in the sole three-minute scene he’s in than we do about Jess in his two-episode appearance.

If there was one thing I wanted from this revival, it was closure. Sure, I wanted Jess to be Rory’s forever because I truly believe he is the best one for her. But I would have been happy with a different ending, so long as it was definitive. As long as they discussed all of the unmentioned past between them. Rory’s storyline was extremely disappointing, as was Jess’s. Thankfully, however, Emily, Lorelei, Luke, and Kirk helped to make up for that. Even so, I don’t imagine I’ll be watching this revival, or any of the old series, again any time soon.

*Photo credit: Google Images


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