"Mom?" "Yeah?" "I'm pregnant."
In four words, Amy Sherman-Palladino finally wrapped up the story of Stars Hollow as she always wanted to, and managed to encapsulate everything that went wrong with Rory's role in the new Netflix special.
Rory Gilmore had her failings as a character over Gilmore Girls' original seven-season run, showing herself to be immature and selfish. Sleeping with her married ex is often pointed to as the first indication that Rory isn't perfect, but it's a season 2 episode when she misses her mother's college graduation that first illuminates the fact that, for all her charm and bookishness, Rory thinks primarily of herself. She goes on to steal a boat and drop out of Yale, but at no time during the seven seasons does she lose the one thing that seems utterly absent from her character in the reboot — her ambition. Even in her academic exile, she strives to be the best DAR party planner. She camps out in the office of a small Connecticut newspaper with a stack of reasons why they should hire her. She wrote an epic article about asphalt! Nothing was beneath her, and nothing was impossible.
On the surface, the unexpected pregnancy of a 32-year-old woman who has an extensive support system, emotionally and financially, is no big deal.
Cut to A Year in the Life's Rory Gilmore, 32, entitled jerk. This version of Rory doesn't just lack ambition; she lacks the basic drive to find gainful employment. She's grown accustomed to an incredibly large collection of safety nets — she's always welcome at her mom's house, or her grandmother's mansion, or her friend's apartment if she wants to spend some time in NYC, or her not-quite boyfriend's place if she needs to crash in London. All these free ersatz Airbnbs come with food, companionship, and storage space. But even an unemployed Rory of the past would have used the time to challenge herself; she could have reread the complete works of Shakespeare! Or written an article for every section and subsection of the New York Times! Instead, she whines. She whines about her lack of direction. She whines about her failure. And even more frustrating, her whines are met by only comfort from her friends and family, until she eventually takes up a book project that she didn't even come up with on her own. Which leads us to the pregnancy confession and all it implies.
On the surface, the unexpected pregnancy of a 32-year-old woman who has an extensive support system, emotionally and financially, is no big deal. And I believe the confession would have actually been better had it come when Sherman-Palladino expected it to, on the heels of Rory's graduation from Yale at the end of the seventh season. Sure, a pregnancy at 22 would have been a shock to Rory, but who the character was in that moment could have taken it in stride; she probably would have gone into labor on the campaign trail press bus and gone on to start a popular mommy blog, becoming a family features writer for the Times by 30. Motherhood, something for which Rory's character never expresses a desire, would have just been one part of her. However, introduced in the final words of this four-part series, when Rory seems not just lost but also completely unwilling to do the work necessary to get where she wants to be, motherhood seems like the worst possible "solution." While Rory's pregnancy could be seen as bringing the show about mothers and daughters full circle, it's worth noting that Lorelai's pregnancy got her unstuck — pushed her forward. It seems unlikely Rory's will do anything but tie her to a role she never seemed interested in — a disappointing ending for one of the most ambitious young female characters of the past 15 years. And she's definitely going to drop that kid off at her mother's, without asking first, constantly. New Rory is the worst.