For All The Girls Who Thought Of Themselves As Honorary Gilmores

I can’t help but wonder who we would have been if we had grown up with the finale Amy Sherman-Palladino had always intended.

Everyone who knows me knows my feelings about Gilmore Girls. I am not a fangirl ― except when it comes to this one particular show. If you can figure out which WiFi is mine, congratulations, you now know the password. I watch the show on repeat  —  every time season seven ends, I pop the pilot back in. There is a magic in the ability to rewind seven years and restart this delightful journey with the push of a button. It is home and childhood to me, in one convenient and portable DVD package. It is the one comfort food I bring with me wherever I go. It has seeped into my life in every way  —  each time I watch, I discover another phrase or joke that my mother and I always thought we’d invented but that was actually blatantly plagiarized.

I was recently in an interview and was asked to discuss something non-work related about which I was passionate. I ended up launching into an explanation of why the endings of Gilmore Girls and shows like it were so perfect and had made me the person I am. To me, there were the shows where the main character (always a girl) left, and ones where she stayed. (Spoilers about a few shows ahead). My three favorite television shows of all time are Six Feet Under, Friday Night Lights and Gilmore Girls. The final moments of Six Feet Under feature Claire, our young heroine, leaving behind her entire family and driving off across the country to a new city where her only job offer has fallen through and she has no idea what awaits. Friday Night Lights ends with the main family leaving for a new life in a new town, and the most interesting character, Tyra, turning down the local boy she’s always loved for fear of getting pulled back into the comfortable life she worked so hard to leave. The Gilmore Girls finale was literally called “Bon Voyage” and featured Rory leaving everything she knew, as well as a marriage proposal from someone she loved, to take on the world. These are the shows where people leave.

I remember watching Everwood for the first time as a college student (a friend of mine had informed me that it was to them what Gilmores was to me) and being horrified that in the end, the characters turned down personal growth and opportunities to stay in the relationships and the town that were comfortable. I was raised on the shows where people left. This defines who I am. Someone who takes risks and turns down security. I have always attributed that trait in part to being raised on Gilmore Girls.

I was raised on the shows where people left. This defines who I am. Someone who takes risks and turns down security. I have always attributed that trait in part to being raised on 'Gilmore Girls.'

I watched the revival the day after Thanksgiving, sitting on my own in a strange city  —  the day the revival had been announced, my mom and I had immediately planned to watch it together, and yet, again, I had gone off on an adventure and forgone a holiday with family. In addition to sobbing with nostalgia, I was shaken. The ending, most of all, left me so uneasy. After re-watching the revival three more times in as many days, I realize why. In this version of Gilmore Girls, the version Amy Sherman-Palladino always intended, Rory was the girl who stayed

Is it really possible that contract negotiations back in 2006 changed the course not only of Rory’s life, but also, in all likelihood, of at least a few of the millions of girls who admired her? Rory is a friend I’ve had for 16 years. That’s more than half the time I’ve been alive. It’s longer than I’ve known almost any of my real friends. I have no doubt in my mind that knowing her has changed the course of my life in tangible ways. It’s crazy to me that if a few contracts had been worked out differently 10 years ago, and Amy Sherman-Palladino had stayed in charge, Rory might have been a completely different person. I am so grateful to have known and respected the Rory who was willing  —  happy actually  —  to stand on a precipice and jump.

Is it really possible that contract negotiations back in 2006 changed the course not only of Rory’s life, but also, in all likelihood, of at least a few of the millions of girls who admired her?

If these much-discussed final four words  —  “Mom,” “Yeah?”, “I’m pregnant.” — had ended the original series, as they were meant to, Rory almost certainly would have graduated top of her class at Yale, only to put her own big dreams on hold. She would have either fought to win back Logan and the stable, predictable life she had just broken her own heart to reject, or she would have ended up back in Star’s Hollow, possibly with Jess, in the life she had always known. One article I read went so far as to say we don’t need new episodes because, with these final four words, we have already watched that exact same storyline play out with Lorelai (and Chris and Luke).

Sure, Lane got married and pregnant and stayed home, and Paris stuck with her college boyfriend (in her case probably the right call), but Rory was different. As wonderful as she and Logan were together (and I am team Logan all the way), her speech to him about wanting to be untethered ― ”wide open,” in her words, ― was amazing. I’ve come back to it time after time in my own life, both as something to tell other people, when they want to travel with me, or date me or otherwise tie me down, and as something to tell myself in times of fear and loneliness and the discomfort that comes with going it alone. Only when you’re on your own with nothing and no one to answer to, can you truly go wherever life leads you. And that is an incredibly important part of growing up. So said Rory, and so said I… or at least that’s what I always thought.

I actually love the revival. It is a perfect, and necessary, storyline for 32-year-old Rory and 26-year-old me. In many ways I found comfort getting to see myself in Rory once more  ― adult me in adult her. Until recently, for everything that happened in my life, I always had the perfect Gilmore corollary. Only in the last few years, since I finally aged beyond Rory’s 22 years, have I started to feel like there were things I was going through that Rory had never experienced. I would find the closest option, but some were not great fits. They were the young versions. Now, in the revival, we get to see her face the adult versions. The realization that happiness and ambition are sometimes at odds. The choice between mutually exclusive life paths. The admission that sometimes it really is nice to come home again. But for that to work, we need to see her leave in the first place, and strive and have her own life, things she apparently was never meant to do at all.

I can’t help but wonder who I, and the girls of my generation would have been, if we had grown up with the Gilmore Girls finale Amy Sherman-Palladino had always intended. I, for one, will always be grateful that I grew up learning the beauty of a “Bon Voyage.”

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