Closure and Continuation in the Gilmore Girls Reboot

Curator's Note

Although serial television is marked by constant endings – of acts, of episodes, of seasons – it is also marked by an economic imperative to continue, forcing it to revise its various tentative endings and defer narrative closure. Perhaps because narrative closure can provide a text with the symbolic binding of ‘completeness’, offering closure is one of the chief functions of reboots of long-cancelled television series. Netflix began the trend with their Arrested Development, which provided a limited continuation of the show with its own distinct arc and sense of narrative closure. Community got a similar treatment from Yahoo Screen; The X-Files from Fox; and Twin Peaks will soon follow. In the case of The Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, the limited series provides a different sort of closure by allowing the original showrunner, Amy Sherman Palladino, the opportunity to return to the helm After the Sixth Season of the original run of Gilmore Girls, Palladino’s contract wasn’t renewed by the CW. The Seventh Season, run by David S. Rosenthal, proved divisive among the show’s fan-base, especially because Palladino’s long-planned ‘final four words’ of the series never were never said. While Season Seven worked hard to establish its own form of closure, with Rory Gilmore leaving home, and Lorelai and Luke reconciled, the show’s public split with its original creator worked against this. While GG:AYITL gives us plenty of endings – a wedding for Luke and Lorelai, a final goodbye to Logan, a last look over Stars Hollow – the series remains structured around continuation as well as closure. As the seasons turn, Palladino emphasises the circularity of the lives of her central trio. Lorelai and Emily lock horns again, their relationship coming, in Lorelai’s words, ‘Full frickin’ circle’. Rory’s journey, too, circles back to her mother’s, and the end of the series places her back at the beginning of her own story. The final four words, shared between mother and daughter, are: “Mom?” “Yeah?” “I’m pregnant.” This ending substitutes a grand authorial gesture for narrative closure. Palladino finishes the series on her own terms, yet also holds out the possibility of further stories of a new generation of Gilmore Girls. Thus the form of the limited series revival, for all of its embodiment of the televisual zeitgeist, resembles the network drama which came before it in its negotiation of the contradictory imperatives towards closure and continuation.

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