I am so mad about Twin Peaks: The Return, episode 8. It’s an hour of my life that I’ll never get back. After minute 2 of watching as the camera zoomed into an explosion, I turned to Twitter to amuse myself, but my husband freaked out so I was banned from my phone. For an hour. It was a struggle to stay awake. In fact, the second the credits started rolling, I walked out of the room without a word and went to bed, even though it was still pretty early.
Art-house cinema has its place. People are free to make whatever movies they want, as long as they’re not hurting children or animals. But it doesn’t belong on Showtime, plopped in the middle of an ongoing series, disrupting plot and punishing its audience. No matter what this fawning article has to say about it. Even the New York Times is against me.
I know David Lynch doesn’t give a fuck. It’s an admirable quality most of the time, because it allowed the original Twin Peaks to change the landscape of television forever. But this act of not-giving-a-fuck was aggressive. Thus far, the new series has been difficult to swallow—some moments have been undeniably incredible, but others have felt like dead-end tangents. Despite assurances from the cast that eventually, all of this will make sense, I have my sincere doubts that an hour detour into 1945 New Mexico is relevant to the goings-on of Twin Peaks, Washington’s residents. Enough with the fan theories. Bob’s origin story! Who’s the girl who swallowed the gross bug?
I’m glad that the new series is not a rehashing of the old. I’m glad that, so far, we’ve only had to see James for about ten seconds, in a scene that, like the entirety of episode 8, seems to have little to no bearing on anything else going on in the series. But episode 8 was condescending. The subtext of episode 8 was, “You are all mindless idiots who don’t know how to meaningfully consume texts, so I’m going to force you to stare at nothingness for an hour and be present with it.”
As someone working on her 2nd degree in literature, I’m far from an expert, but I’d say I’m pretty good at sussing out meaning in the media I consume. For instance, Master of None season 2 is undeniably influenced by art-house, and it is thoroughly enjoyable. There’s a 3 or so minute sequence when the camera rests on Aziz’s face in the back of an Uber—the subtle physical acting he does takes the audience on an emotional journey. The guy barely moves for 3 minutes, which in TV land is a painfully long time to linger on one shot, but it’s never boring.
Plot is secondary to any great work, but it is an important component of a television series. Even shows like Seinfeld, that were ostensibly about “nothing,” were still plotted episodically. I had faith that watching Coop navigate a purple planet for an excruciating 20 minutes would be relevant to the overall story. I had faith that two young people getting brutally murdered while watching a giant glass box would eventually make sense. But episode 8 was so remote from Twin Peaks that I genuinely don’t care if it makes sense with the rest of the story. For Lynch to justify this capsule episode in the larger context of Twin Peaks: The Return will be such an unnecessary stretch that it might damage the integrity of the series as a whole. There are other stories to be told.
In eight hours of this new series, we’ve heard Audrey Horne’s name once, watched the insufferable Dougie wander around Vegas for innumerable minutes, and had to roll our eyes through the worst plot device of all time, which is the new Sheriff Truman talking to the absent Sheriff Truman in one-sided telephone calls. (Michael Ontkean chose not to return for the series—why not just say he retired, died, or better yet, not address it at all and just have a new sheriff?) We’ve also gained some wonderful characters (Naomi Watts and Laura Dern are sensational, and Michael Cera provides, in my opinion, one of the best comic performances of all time) and followed the story along some interesting detours.
I was on board through episode 7, because I truly felt like the creator of the ingenious original series wanted to provide us with a new piece of art that didn’t rely on nostalgia, something that challenged us to make connections. Episode 8 was a giant middle finger to everyone who gives a shit about Twin Peaks. It was the work of someone who seems to have contempt for his audience. I’m going to keep watching, because now I feel I’ve made an immense investment in the series and it seems wasteful to abandon it now. But I’m approaching tonight’s episode with a healthy dose of skepticism.
It is my great hope that, at the end of the new series, this take will be proven sorely wrong. I hope to look back on this in a few months and laugh at my own ignorance. But I’m not holding my breath.
P.S. “The” Nine Inch Nails performance was very cool, although the placement in the episode was terrible.
Edit: I have read a recap of episode 9, and it looks like it’s going to be absolutely incredible. I’m looking forward to watching, I just hate that I have to look up recaps in advance now to make sure I won’t be subjected to visual torture.
Oy. I have a lot of feelings about this, and though I’m hardly the first person to air grievances on the Internet, I’m going to talk about them anyway. Here there be spoilers.
Girlboss is Kay Cannon’s Netflix adaptation of Nasty Gal founder Sophia Amoruso’s 2014 memoir of the same name (stylized #GIRLBOSS). I read the book as soon as it came out, despite not having previously shopped the Nasty Gal site, because it seemed like a kickass Cinderella story whose beginning mirrored my own life: I was broke, underemployed and still without a degree, and I had a rabid interest in clothing and fashion. The memoir, which is interspersed with prescriptive pieces that seek to serve as feminist #inspo, tells an evocative tale. It’s Drake’s “Started from the Bottom” and now, we truly are, here.
But that was 3 years ago. The timing of the Girlboss series in 2017 seems…inopportune, to say the least. Nasty Gal has filed for bankruptcy, has been sold to retailer Boohoo, and Ms. Amoruso no longer has a stake in the company. Nasty Gal has been slammed for unfair practices and policies affecting pregnant employees. If we are supposed to see the series, like the memoir, as an inspiring rags-to-riches tale, the real-life context muddies the narrative.
Structurally, the show is a bit of a nightmare. The series is supposed to span 2 years, from Nasty Gal’s conception to the launch of the website, but there are few demarcations of time passing until the eleventh episode, set during Christmas 2007. Sophia spends the capsule episode jet-setting around the Mid-West, confronting her online nemesis and reconnecting with her dysfunctional estranged mother. The lack of through-lines in the story makes it difficult to appropriately empathize with the characters. When Shane (SPOILER) cheats on Sophia, the audience sees the shady indiscretion in the context of a monogam-ish hook-up, as opposed to a betrayal of a two-year long committed relationship.
Criminally underused is the brilliant Alphonso McAuley as Dax, who is the only truly interesting, three-dimensional character the show boasts. He is a hardworking, career-focused young black man putting himself through business school, yet is constantly put down by the rest of the cast. When he and his girlfriend, Annie, discuss the seriousness of their relationship, Dax appears plagued by issues of race (Annie is white, his parents don’t approve). This moment is moving, but feels completely out of place with the rest of the narrative—it is later completely abandoned.
For a show ostensibly about a burgeoning business and its ruthless founder, Girlboss is (tenuously) woven together by the relationships between characters it portrays. Sophia’s relationship to authority figures (her parents, her boss Rick, shop owner Mobias), and her relationship with her best friend, Annie, are all deeply fraught, and the series shows little growth in Sophia’s character until the very last episodes, where she pulls an about-face that gives the audience emotional whiplash. When her nemesis, Gail, owner of vintage Ebay store, Remembrances, calls Sophia a “garbage person,” the series feebly attempts to transform Sophia from heinous narcissist to sympathetic wunderkind, stunted by her mother’s abandonment, in the episode’s remaining few minutes. Previous to this, the realest Sophia gets is with Rosie, the park bench-dwelling elderly lady who has the sense to slap Sophia in her self-important face after a cringe-worthy monologue. In structure, in pacing, in writing, the show is just not very good. Too many aha moments, too much exposition in the dialogue, too many heavy-handed “insights” into why Sophia is so damaged—all of which could have been explained away in a 2-minute wine-drinking montage set to Jonny Craig’s “Children of Divorce”.
According to the show’s lead actress, Britt Robertson, Girlboss‘s Sophia is supposed to be a hateable character, which, in most cases, is perfectly acceptable. I personally champion any medium that can portray a flawed, complicated woman as she is. Women are held to a shameful double-standard when it comes to likability, a topic that has sparked, I’m sure, thousands of thinkpieces as well as a particularly moving passage in Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist. That Sophia is unlikable is not an issue—well-behaved women seldom make history, after all. But Sophia is not just unlikable—she is a narcissist who drags those around her down in order to buoy herself. She takes advantage of others without remorse at every turn. She speaks ill of her customers and disrespects her peers in the vintage resale community. She uses her manic-pixie-dream-girl-bullshit persona to hook the very sweet San Francisco-newbie, Shane, and then proceeds to be emotionally-withholding for two years until he cheats with a bandmate. I know that this a “real loose” retelling of the events surrounding Nasty Gal’s founding, but why choose a tale (and a person) like this to glorify with a television show? Not every story by, for, and about women is a feminist story.
After all of this, I’m somehow still left wondering: how can a show that features RuPaul Charles, Jim Rash, Norm Macdonald, Cole Escola, and Dean Norris not be good? Everybody knows RuPaul, of course, and Dean Norris notably portrayed Hank Schrader in every white man’s favorite show, Breaking Bad, but Cole Escola is a goddamn rising star that should be a household name by now. Apart from slaying on Twitter, he is killing it as the incomparable Matthew on Hulu’s Difficult People. Sure, he’s only in a couple of episodes of Girlboss, but he steals every single scene. This show has the raw materials to be amazing! This could have been a platform to turn a real-life trainwreck into compelling, must-see TV. It’s just a little off the rails.
The “cliffhangers” that will inevitably necessitate a second season are lukewarm at best: will Sophia and Shane get back together? Will the now sold-out Nasty Gal site be able to keep up with customer demand? Will the Vintage Fashion Forum continue to throw shade at Sophia via internet comments? These are the tenuous threads by which additional seasons will hang. And will I watch it? Of course I’ll fucking watch it. At the end of the day, Sophia & co.’s insufferableness is entertaining, and later seasons would allow for the exploration into the company’s downfall, something which might tickle the (many) Sophia-haters out there. But fair warning, dear reader, if you, unlike me, can’t stomach watching a thin, millennial white lady coast down the privilege highway to destination success, stop the next episode before it auto-plays.
I’m a little light this week on recommendations because, well, I’ve been busy AF. I’m finishing the last bits of my grad school application, working full time, and committing to my Trivia host side-hustle. The WordPress drafts are getting out of hand! But here’s what I’ve been up to in my spare time.
Life in Pieces on CBS
The first season of Life in Pieces recently went up on Netflix, so I’ve been bingeing it, hard. Fig and I finished Breaking Bad and moved onto a 30 Rock rewatch, so I needed my own personal binge show for when our schedules don’t overlap (this is often). I’m trying to wean myself off of watching Gilmore Girls in an infinite loop, so when I saw LIP advertised on Netflix’s home page, I knew it would be a perfect fit. The cast of this show is bananas. Personal faves Zoe Lister-Jones (from Whitney) and Colin Hanks (from everything + being Tom Hanks’ son) join Betsey Brandt (from Breaking Bad), James Brolin, Dianne Wiest, and the stupidly handsome Thomas Sadoski in this light-hearted comedy told in 4 vignettes per episode.
The guest cast is insane—Martin Starr plays an exterminator, Jordan Peele makes frequent appearances as Colleen’s crazy ex, and apparently next season Mullally and Offerman have roles!
Life in Pieces is the perfect binge show for the lover of light-hearted comedies and accomplished casts. Highly recommend! Come for the famous actors, stay for the amazing kids! The kid who plays Sophia is the next Shailene Woodley or whatever, for real.
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
The book, I mean. Everyone’s been pestering me for weeks to start watching the HBO miniseries, Big Little Lies, starring literally every famous actress. Until last week, I didn’t even know it was based on a book, but as soon as I saw it, I recognized its candy-colored cover. I’m a moderately strict book-before-movie person, so when offered the ebook for free, how could I refuse?
At first, I was a bit dubious of the quality of the writing—it’s certainly not the sort of thing I’d typically pick up at the bookstore. But within a few pages I was hooked. I think I’ve thrown off my circadian rhythm staying up way too late reading it. I was almost less interested in finding out who the murderer/murder victim is than I was of learning about Jane’s mysterious past or the inner-workings of primary school politics.
The book is very, very different from the HBO miniseries of the same name, but I truly can’t choose which is better! They both bring so much to the table! I highly recommend both, book-before-miniseries, of course.
I’ll follow up in the next Kool Things.
The Far Field, Future Islands
It is no secret that I am f***ing obsessed with Future Islands. They are an amazing Baltimore-based synthpop band that brings me life. I first heard of them during college (Part I) when they put out their album In The Evening Air. All I had was a crap-quality (illegal) mp3 download of it, but I listened to it on repeat for months. I took to including “Long Flight” on every mix CD/playlist I made. Now that I am a grown-ass woman and pay for my music (thankyouverymuch), I’ve since remedied this earlier discretion and made sure to follow the band’s incredible career. 2014’s Singles was a revelation, and this year’s The Far Field is a fitting follow-up.
Lead singer Samuel Herring had one of the most unique and strange voices in all of music—he’s like the second coming of Mike Patton. He transitions from beautifully melodic and clean to heavy metal screaming with effortless ease. He’s also apparently a rapper (?!) which somehow I’m only just finding out about. You think I’d have such important info about my #mancrusheveryday.
This band is so ahead of the damn curve. They put out a sign language lyric video for “Cave”! “Shadows” even features actual icon/goddess Debbie Harry! The Far Field is the best use of your Hamilton ($10), trust. Future Islands is/are a big f***ing deal. Get into it.
I always love trying out new wines, but as someone who hasn’t yet read Marissa A. Ross‘s forthcoming book yet, I’m often at a loss for where to begin as I peruse the racks at my local wine shop. I’m a bit of a white wine junkie (basic white bitch, party of one!), so I absolutely love a Chardonnay, and am always looking for one that tastes better than the well swill they’ll serve you at restaurants if you don’t specify.
I know you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but the older I get, the more I realize that that’s a bullshit adage. When it comes to products, the cover (or label) actually says quite a bit! Small businesses that really believe in their product tend to pay greater attention to aesthetic details, like graphic and web design. I was drawn to this particular bottle because of its clean, minimal label—the website is no different. Bread & Butter only produces two very highly-rated wines out of Napa, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (which, incidentally, are my go-to white and red).
Bread & Butter Chardonnay ran me about $11, which, imho, is just about right for an everyday wine. I can’t wait to try their Pinot Noir! I’ll definitely be buying this wine again!
Well, those are the highlights of my week! What’s up with you? Any new fave wines or murder-mysteries to share? Sound off in the comments!
Another week for the books! It literally snowed yesterday, because April Fool’s Day is real. I needed my escape, and I found it in memoirs and comedy, by which no one is surprised. These are the things that got me through the hail/sleet/snow hellscape that was this week.
Crashing, Pete Holmes
I cannot even believe that I haven’t written about Crashing yet! Crashing, the semi-autobiographical brainchild of brilliant comedian and beautiful human being, Pete Holmes, is HBO’s newest Sunday night series. It tells the (dramatized) story of Pete’s divorce and entry into the New York City stand-up scene. Guest stars have (thus far) included comedy powerhouses like Sarah Silverman, Artie Lang, and TJ Miller, as well as one of my personal favorites, Aparna Nancherla.
If you don’t yet know the delightful Pete Holmes, well, you should. He briefly hosted his own talk show that aired weeknights after Conan, The Pete Holmes Show, hosts an interview podcast called You Made It Weird that never fails to get spiritual, and landed an HBO special called Faces and Sounds that dropped in December. He’s a hometown hero, hailing, like myself, from Metro Boston (I think Somerville or thereabouts). Pete Holmes truly has one of the most unique voices in comedy—his relentless optimism and winning smile make jokes like calling himself “Lesbian Val Kilmer” all the more powerful. Crashing chronicles Pete’s days as a fresh-faced comedy newbie; now, though, he’s a force to be reckoned with.
This week I’ve been devouring this amazing book of essays by comedian and author Sara Benincasa, and it’s been an emotional journey. I finished it on my lunch break today and it took everything I had not to publicly sob. I hesitate to call this book “self-help,” but if you read it, you will help yo’ self. For real. The words of wisdom in this book range from “brush your damn teeth” to “treat your vagina like the magical temple that it is.” I’m paraphrasing, but you get it. Benincasa gets very frank about her own struggles with mental illness but never fails to be disarmingly hilarious. As someone who aspires to a reasonable facsimile of this incredible woman’s career, it is inspiring beyond belief to read of someone rising from the ashes of her own self-destruction and kicking major ass purely through hard work and talent. 10/10, read this f***ing book.
I’ve already ordered one of her other books, Agorafabulous!, which I can’t wait to start reading!
Check out her short film, The Focus Group, on Vimeo.
*The kindle version of Real Artists Have Day Jobs is only $1.99 right now, my dudes! Go forth and read!
Pizza Mind, Sasheer Zamata
SNL cast member and jumpsuit messiah Sasheer Zamata just dropped her very first stand-up special on the incredible comedy streaming service, Seeso. The stunning and brilliant Ms. Zamata tackles race, feminism, and being named after Star Trek like a gotdamn professional. Topics of discussion include “resting bitch face,” her brief employment at Disney world, and the (very f***ing true) fact that white girls are constantly shedding hair all over the place. The special is hilarious, but it’s also a thoughtful, educational experience. Sasheer Zamata does not care if her material on race makes you uncomfortable. That’s on you.
Pizza Mind is must-see TV. If you have a spare hour, give it a watch. You will be rewarded with a magical cartoon adventure and a show-stopping finale number #nospoilers.
Watch her bit about her tricky-to-pronounce first name here.
I upgraded early and got an iPhone 7 this week! I almost went Plus, but I tried out my husband’s 6+ for a little while, and the damn thing’s just too big! I like being able to rock the one-handed text. But don’t text and drive! Do as I say, not as I do! The transition from iPhone 6 to 7 has been like night and day! It’s faster, there are two speakers, and it’s PINK. I know I’m predictable and basic, but the more pink I can get in my life, the better! I also got the 128G model (4 times the storage of my last phone!) so that I could combine the functions of iPhone and iPod (I’ve been using my iPhone 4 from many years ago as an iPod—the thing was begging to be sent to a farm upstate, it was dead and buried). Despite the foolish amount of music I’ve put on it, I still only seem to listen to Hamilton…
We got a shipment of phone cases from The Casery to my work, so I also treated myself to this amazing case. Kendrick Lamar fans, unite! This isn’t a sales pitch for my work or anything, since y’all don’t know where I work, nor is it an ad for The Casery, but seriously, you guys, these cases are the absolute best. The designs are the cutest I’ve ever seen (donuts! sushi! cacti!) and the cases are super well made. I’m obsessed…I might need to get this one next, in honor of the little cat that started it all—Della!
I’ve been playing Stump! Trivia for ten whole years, since way before it was appropriate for me to be hanging out at a bar on a weeknight. I’m not actually sure it’s even appropriate now. But alas, such is my addiction to trivia and other brain puzzles—every Wednesday night for the past year (and many Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays in years past), my father and I have ordered a round of drinks and a basket of french fries and challenged ourselves to a battle of wits in the quest for a restaurant gift card.
Stump! is arguably the best trivia game in the Boston area (it was started in Marshfield), but it’s now a nationwide company that offers fun, challenging trivia and Questionnairey (a Family Feud-style game) at bars and private events. Long story short, I am a huge, huge fangirl, and a frequent player. So, the other night, after a particularly exciting win at our local pub, I applied to be a host.
I had applied years and years ago, but was likely much too young to be considered. Doesn’t super make sense to hire an underage girl to work in a bar—I don’t hold the lack of response against them. But this time, I heard back via email almost immediately and set up an audition!
I wasn’t looking for a second job, and the extra few bucks a week won’t make a huge difference to me financially, but the public speaking experience is priceless! The whole gig is essentially an improv performance—something I’ve been anxious about for years! I recently admitted to myself that my dream is actually to be Conan O’Brien (or a reasonable lady approximation)—writer, performer, icon. Okay, I’m joking about the icon part, but in order to achieve even a tiny sliver of my dream, I’m going to need to get better in front of a crowd.
If you’re in the Boston/South Shore area, come support me here!
Thanks for letting me blab about my obsessions for a month straight! What are you obsessed with lately?
*as usual, all of the images via google or the sites linked in each description!
I wanted to call this post The I’ds of March, but a. that is so stupid, and b. then I couldn’t turn it into a series. Unless it was an annual series? Anyway, I called it Kool Things because that title is at once descriptive and a reference to my favorite Sonic Youth song. Win/win.
Kool Things is a (hopefully) weekly series highlighting dope shit that made my week brighter. We’re kind of in the darkest timeline right now, at least in the U.S., so it’s become super important to find joy where you can.
Anyway, here are the things that made my first-week-of-March:
Cristela Alonzo, Lower Classy
Cristela, who you might know from her short-lived ABC sitcom of the same name, is a comedy angel, and her new special freaking delivered. The jokes were all brilliantly written and expertly delivered, plus, I actually cried at the end. I was moved to tears by the story she tells about her mother. Get you a stand-up special that can do both!
Cristela nails the first-generation American experience, eviscerates Latinx stereotypes, and roasts Whole Foods for their bonkers prices with aplomb. Her voice is a shining light in the white dude-dominated comedy scene, and I’m so glad that she has the amazing platform of Netflix to tell her story.
Watch Cristela’s newest special, Lower Classy, on Netflix now! 5/5
One Part Plant: The Cookbook!
I first heard of Jessica Murnane, plant-based guru and cooking genius, on Karsyn DuPree’s Wilder Podcast. I am a self-professed “cooking dork”, so of course I pre-ordered Jessica’s amazing plant-based cookbook. One Part Plant functions as an educational tool as much as it offers recipes: Murnane, who suffers (suffered?) from endometriosis, found an unlikely cure in plant-based eating, and she talks about the disease at length in the book’s intro. And Lena Dunham, who also famously suffers from endo, penned a letter to open the book. Beyond the discussion of endo, the cookbook gives a realistic overview of everything your kitchen needs, from whisks & sieves to tahini & tamari.
Something notable about this cookbook is that is has a full dessert and snack section. I’m not a huge dessert person, but I love that this book is so well-rounded!
Recipe highlights: Creamy Grits with Avocado & Hot Sauce, Roasted Potato, Corn, & Leek Chowder, Grilled Cinnamon & Banana Sandwich (I mean, WHAT?!)
What’s better than modern, chic gold & brass jewelry? Women. Entrepreneurs. The rad lady of HARP. designs also happens to by my cousin, Shelly, an amazingly talented Bay Area jewelry designer and maker. She’s a talent angel with an incredible aesthetic. Madewell wishes their accessories were made this well. Since today we’re participating in A Day Without A Woman (right? RIGHT?), ditch your shitty ASOS bling and come thru for HARP.
I recently treated myself to these amazing slogan pins, because when they go low…
Eisley, I’m Only Dreaming Tour
My soul-loves, Eisley, just released a new record on February 17th! It’s called I’m Only Dreaming, and it’s the first album released with the band’s new line-up (sans Chauntelle, Weston, & Stacy). I saw them on tour last week at Brighton Music Hall and it was absolutely sensational! It was the first time I’d ever been to a show alone, and I’ve gotta tell you: highly recommend! No one to judge you for scream-singing along to every word!
*songs with Stacy or Chauntelle originally on lead vox!
American Apparel (RIP)
Is this basic? I’m not sure I care. American Apparel has been at the center of tons of legal & ethical drama over the years, but at its core—American-made, unisex-leaning clothes? Fine by me. They’re bankrupt or going out of business or something, and everything on their site is 40% off. EVERYTHING. AA’s price points were always a deterrent to me, so this added discount piqued my interest.
Pro-tips for shoppers: their size charts are accurate. Measure thyself. Don’t rely on what size you *think* you are, because your acid-wash shorts will function like a whale-bone corset.
The lesson here? Always pester stylish girls you see about where they got their high-waisted jeans. You will be rewarded.
And last but certainly not least…
A Day Without A Woman
Today’s the day! Organized by the same group that executed the massively successful post-inauguration Women’s March on Washington, A Day Without A Woman is a campaign seeks to illustrate the impact that women (51% of the population, yo) have on daily life and the economy. Today we wear red, avoid paid or unpaid labor, and withhold our money from businesses not owned and operated by women. Most women can’t just peace out of work on a Wednesday (I’m lucky enough to have today off), but there are so many little ways we can all participate in the Resistance! To cop a slogan from Portlandia, Women and Women First!
I hope to see you all out in the streets rocking red!
Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, premiered on Netflix last month after nine long years without new Gilmore content. The night before the mini-series was set to air, I was as, if not more anxious than I was at my own wedding. Don’t get me wrong—I love my husband—but Stars Hollow is in my blood. I may very well have spent more time with the Gilmores than I have with him, although he’s definitely catching up—there are only so many episodes, after all.
Before I gracefully swan-dive into criticism, I want to start by saying that Gilmore Girls is my favorite television show. It came to me in a dark period of my life (I started watching weekly during season 4), and it spoke to me, as a fast-talking, book-reading, pop-culture-referencing, brunette New Englander. In my mind, I was Rory. In reality, I was way more of a Lorelai/Lane hybrid, except way less cool.
In 2007, Gilmore Girls was cancelled after the departure of its creator, Amy Sherman-Palladino and a somewhat disastrous seventh season. A lot has changed in the nine years since Gilmore Girls stopped airing. The proverbial “conversation” has changed. Sixteen years ago (when it began airing), it was par for the course for a show to be tone-deaf about social issues. Most shows lacked diversity in casting. Actors of color were criminally underused, LGBT characters were novelties, and trans characters simply didn’t exist. Gilmore Girls broke no barriers. The most revolutionary aspect of the show was its portrayal of a single teen mother succeeding despite her circumstances, and even that portrayal was inherently flawed—Gilmore existed in a bubble in which money was no issue, and only ever brought up as a plot point. The Girls were fed, sheltered, and wanted for nothing.
As for race—I can vouch for small New England towns lacking diversity. I’m from one. But television is escapism—the creators had the freedom to diversify the idyllic Stars Hollow, seeing as every other aspect of the fictional town is deeply unrealistic. Interestingly enough, Michel, the concierge of the Independence, and later the Dragonfly, Inns, who was the show’s only meaningful black character, was also portrayed as (early-00s) stereotypically gay, with his love of Céline Dion, fashion, and Emily Gilmore-esque propriety. It’s almost as if the Palladinos cashed in a two-for-one coupon, but not in the self-aware, irreverent way in which Tina Fey & co. wrote the character “Toofer.”
Throughout the series (having rewatched it from the start in preparation for the revival), there are numerous cringe-worthy gay and cross-dressing jokes that fall as flat as the inevitably outdated pop culture references, but overall it can certainly be deemed a feminist series, albeit a white feminist one. #intersectionality
Thus, ardent fans new and old anxiously awaited our return to the Stars Hollow universe. And the first few scenes truly did feel as warm and comforting as slipping on a pair of decade-old Ugg boots. I mean, this:
The feels! Also, Emily’s entire storyline. We all can agree that Kelly Bishop is an actual queen, right? Perfect actress, perfect role.
P.S. Lorelai’s remodeled kitchen is #GOALS.
So now, in order to keep myself from emotionally babbling, let’s go through some bullet points:
Relationships: Our (real) beloved Edward Herrman passed away in 2014, leaving our (fictional) Emily Gilmore widowed at the start of the series. Lorelai & Luke are cohabiting but unmarried (for reasons which are never explained). Rory is a hot mess: she has a long-term boyfriend, Paul, whom she can’t seem to remember exists, she’s sleeping with engaged-to-another-woman Logan on her jaunts to London, and she has a one-night stand with a guy in a Wookie costume. Oh yeah, and she ends up single and preggo. (#whydoesamyshermanpalladinohateyou)
Careers: Emily transitions from DAR to ACK—namely, she quits being a socialite and moves to Nantucket to generally be a badass queen. Lorelai seeks to expand the Dragonfly, which is doing well enough to hire Ina Garten & Rachael Ray, so…I’d say she’s successful. Rory is again, a hot mess with basically no career—highlights include a piece published in the New Yorker and “a lot of [vague af] irons in the fire.” By the end of the mini-series, she essentially realizes that she sucks at journalism and proceeds to start a book, aptly called Gilmore Girls.
Diversity:womp womp. Still almost no people of color, despite multiple scenes in NYC (?!?!?), and gay representation is horrendous. Michel is finally out (and married! and about to become an adoptive parent!), but apart from that, we have a new gay SH resident, Donald, no lesbians, no bi characters, and no trans characters. And we have to sit through a soul-crushing scene re: a Stars Hollow Pride Parade. It’s 50 Shades of bad. Also—Berta. Emily’s maid throughout the mini-series, is a mysterious ethnicity speaking a “nonsense” language. Borderline xenophobic and weird—forgivable because the character is portrayed brilliantly by none other than Gypsy (Rose Abdoo).
Boyfriends: Digger makes an appearance. Christopher drops by for a brief but HELLA IMPORTANT scene. Mother-flipping LELAND PALMER (Ray Wise) briefly courts Emily. Jess Mariano remains the one voice of reason and clarity in Rory’s life (and is still clearly in love with her). Dean Forrester lives in Scranton and is married with 3-almost-4 children. Logan is engaged to a French heiress, but, oh yeah, has this mistress named Rory Gilmore with whom he is still clearly in love.
Cameos! Cameos! Cameos!
I would like to start by saying that I’m not going to mention the Bunheads people. I never saw Bunheads (planning to fix that), so I’d be pointing out something that I myself didn’t even understand.
Chris Eigeman (Digger Stiles) – Lorelai’s season 4 former flame makes a brief appearance in the flashback to Richard’s funeral. Fuck the haters, I loved this. I truly liked that character and thought he and Lorelai were good together. I’m #TeamLuke, but it’s hard to be so loyal when Max & Digger are so freaking awesome.
Danny Strong (Doyle McMaster) – My beloved Doyle only gets a couple of brief scenes, amidst the turmoil of his separation from Paris.
David Sutcliffe (Christopher Hayden) – Baby daddy gets one scene. Of course, in retrospect, it turns out to be SUCH a fucking important scene, but they definitely could have used Christopher, who was so important to the plot of the original series, much better.
Gregg Henry (Mitchum Huntzberger) – Mitchum gets one scene? Come on. Mitchum is the only person that was ever honest with Rory about her journalistic prospects. He changed the course of her life, in a way. He was important! I think Mitchum was honestly more influential than Logan! Gregg Henry is an amazing actor and he was ILL-SERVED in this revival. #moremitchum
Ray Wise (Jack Smith, Emily’s new boo) – Leland freaking Palmer is in the reboot. It was kind of distracting because I LOVE me some Twin Peaks, but apparently so does ASP. Half the cast of TP has been on GG at some point or another.
Mae Whitman (line girl) – Mae’s cameo is brief, but a total Lauren/Parenthood shout-out. We LOVE Ann Veal!
Alex Kingston (Naomi Shropshire) – River. Mother. Flipping. Song. Is. In. The. Revival. Enough said. This was a dead-end story-line but worth it for RIVER SONG.
Jason Mantzoukas (Naomi Shropshire’s lawyer) – The fact that Mantzoukas is a huge GG fan brings joy and radiance to my life, and his inclusion in the revival is a ray of sunshine in a dismal world.
Kevin T. Porter & Demi Adejuyigbe (B-list actors at the Dragonfly) – The Gilmore Guys are in the revival! This makes me so happy. Kevin & Demi are doing god’s work with their amazing podcast, which I’ve blogged about previously.
Rachael Ray & Roy Choi – In Sookie’s absence, the Dragonfly hosts celebrity chef pop-ups. Realistic? No. Hilarious? Yes! Rachael Ray’s over-acting breathes life into me.
Paul Anka – The Paul Anka dreams had to come back.
Alex Borstein (Miss Celine) – Miss Celine was one of the most wonderful parts of the original series. I’m so glad that the Palladinos graced the fans with one last look.
Jason Ritter & Peter Krause (park rangers) – Parenthood shout-outs 2 & 3! Jason played Lauren Graham’s love interest on Parenthood, and Peter is her real-life boo! I was psyched to see them in the reboot.
And last but not least, Jess Mariano, a.k.a. Jess Mariano. Unfortunately, his part amounts to little more than a cameo, but JFC, look at this man:
Are you KIDDING me?
Milo was busy shooting his amazing new show This Is Us, so he couldn’t be a huge part of the revival, but the few moments he appeared on screen were among the best.
In Omnia Paratus!
Okay, so, everyone seems to hate the Life & Death Brigade sequence , but I am coming out strongly in favor of all of it. It had Twin Peaks. It had the Beatles (via Across the Universe). It has kooky outfits & Rosemary Clooney! Disclaimer: I’ve been Team Logan since DAY ONE, so of course I was going to love this callback. Especially considering the final four words, these scenes have additional gravitas. The frustrating thing, though, is that there is no obstacle to Rory & Logan being together, except both of them sucking as people. I guess we’ll find out what happens with them in the next series of episodes, because of course they’re going to make more, because $$$$.
Much has been said about this already, but Lane gets about 45 total seconds of screen-time in the entire revival. Considering her life was…derailed in Season 7, to put it politely, superfans were desperate to see how Amy resolved Lane’s story. This more than anything seemed to highlight the undeniable notion that the meta-narrative of this show is that we all become our mothers. Lane’s working at Kim’s antiques, wearing a Mrs. Kim smock and bob. Paris’s kids like the nanny more than her. Rory ends up unwed and pregnant, albeit at 32 instead of 16. P.S. ONE scene with Mrs. Kim? Are you kidding me?
So, overall, I loved the revival because it was a revival of my favorite show. I loved the Arrested Development revival too. And I’m sure I’ll love the Curb Your Enthusiasm reboot as well. But that definitely doesn’t excuse Amy Sherman-Problematic from, well, being herself. As much as I cherish the existence of these new episodes, there are so many things I want from any potential further episodes. I want more Paris, more Lane, more Miss Patty—more of the characters that are the true heartbeat of the show. There’s so much more to talk about, but I think a lot of us are still rewatching and processing.
There will be much more discussion of the revival here. For those of you thirsty to dive into deep discussions about it, hit up my boys The Gilmore Guys who just dropped their “Fall” episode today.
What was your favorite episode of the revival?
*all images pulled from google/the internet—I take zero credit for anything
I hurt myself at work today. Of course, I wasn’t doing anything strenuous. I felt in perfect health. But all of a sudden, as I was reaching up, it felt like my back snapped in half. A doctor’s visit and muscle relaxers later, I’m still down for the count.
I feel betrayed by my body.
Luckily, there are other things going on to distract me from my misery.
Orange is the New Black just came back for its fourth season and gosh, did it deliver. I was skeptical at first with the direction of the narrative, but they came out strong for trans/black/prisoner rights, and I appreciated that s**t. Apart from John Oliver and the occasional Bernie Sanders speech, prison is out of the sight & mind of most Americans, but so many people are unjustly locked up. Prison is not a catch-all solution, and imprisoning someone for a b.s. offense (possession of small quantities of drugs, et al.) effectively ruins his or her life, perpetuating economic inequality and racism.
Will Butler and The Avett Brothers just put out new albums! Will Butler’s Friday Night and the Avett’s True Sadnessboth dropped in the past two weeks, and as we may or may not know from my incessant opinion-sharing, white men are good for one thing and one thing only: dropping bomb-ass records (hyperbole, but, you get it).
This. Darn. Avocado. Bag. Betsey Johnson is killing it! I usually find her bags a bit too literal, but avocados are my forever love, and I don’t care how basic that is. It’s available on Modcloth too. I managed to score it for way cheaper before Amazon wised up to the hype.
Tomorrow, I’m going to my fave professor’s house to help her move. Yes, I’m in blinding pain, but I can always cart things back and forth. Going to people’s houses always inspires me to bring my A-game. Homemade chocolate chip donuts? Obviously. Plus, I get to meet her new baby!
July 4th is upon us! Nothing’s set in stone, but fiancé and I might be headed down to the beach to celebrate. I get the dang day off! I have a hella cute Kate Spade bathing suit on hold at work for the occasion. One-pieces forever.
And last but absolutely most, is Hamilton. As in Alexander. Yes, it’s a Broadway smash. Yes, I’m late to the party. But I never could have anticipated how amazing it is. I wept openly during multiple songs. It is my life’s blood. I haven’t listened to non-Hamilton music in five+ days. Why would I? Hamilton is a perfect musical. I lust for the day it will be broadcast on PBS, and I will never, EVER delete it from my DVR.