Gilmore Girls: Surviving Sans Palladino
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
After last season, Amy Sherman-Palladino, the mastermind behind Gilmore Girls, quit the show she single-handedly crafted into a cultural phenomenon and in her wake left an avalanche of uncertainty among fans. Would Gilmore Girls ever be the same? Would the decrease in quality that marred last season continue and turn Gilmore Girls into a shell of its former self? Now, three episodes into the first Palladino-less season, the answer to these questions have become no clearer.
It's still fun to watch Gilmore Girls. It is, really, but the reason for this shouldn't yet be a feather in the new writer's caps. Gilmore Girls is surviving on the sheer likability of its main characters Lorelai and Rory Gilmore, portrayed expertly by Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel. Palladino-speak, the patented rapid-fire pop culture-infused dialogue, is second nature to Gilmore Girl's stars. The result is that, even if the writing isn't at the level of previous seasons, it still feels like vintage Gilmore Girls.
Palladino left the writing staff in some tough positions, story-wise, and it will take time for this season to find its footing. In the meantime, the first three episodes have tried to replicate the feel of the Palladino years and, for the most part, they've been successful. The dialogue is still smart, culturally apt, and character coherent. Rory and Lorelai remain true to themselves. This may seem obvious and simple, but it's not. Retaining the same, extremely specific voice of Palladino is an uphill battle, one the writers this season have conquered in a surprisingly deft manner.
I came into the year expecting to comment, from the get go, on a decline in quality for Gilmore Girls and use that as an indication that the show's future would be bleak. The curious story decisions of last season are being dealt with in a wise combination of swift movements to right last year's wrongs and a strict avoidance in overreacting to them. In last night's episode, Chris re-entered the Gilmore Girl's lives and, as a fan that's rooting against that inevitable plot line, I can begrudgingly admit that it didn't feel like a stretch. I believed the action and even though I find it regrettable, I'm intrigued as to where the story will end up going.
This is not to say that the whole season couldn't be screwed up in the coming weeks. Gilmore Girls is a show that has a rabid fan base whose members aren't the easiest to please. If their favorite characters begin to make disagreeable decisions, then the wheels may very well come off. Thus far, this has not happened and we can all take some respite in the fact that Gilmore Girls continues to hang on to its beloved identity, even without the woman who made it all happen.
-Oscar Dahl, BuddyTV Senior Writer