"Gilmore Girls" Lose Sparkle with Rosenthal
David S. Rosenthal, who replaced Amy Sherman-Palladino and her husband Daniel Palladino in April 2006, holds emotionally invested viewers hostage. There is a loss of the sharp dialogue and the dwindling of sparkling characters to a slow fizzle.
Sherman-Palladino wrote the Gilmore Girls with the requisite room for conflict and change, but added pop culture and political references to give the show its unique appeal. No other show featured a dog named after ‘60s teen idol Paul Anka.
In season two, Lorelai says to her mother at dinner, "Godot was just here. He said ‘I ain’t waiting for Richard,’ grabbed a roll, and left. It’s been forever."
Under Rosenthal, Lorelai quips, “You know the green beans are very green beany, which is so good, especially if you like green bean, which I do.” Like produce and Samuel Beckett, the two writing styles do not compare.
The characters are reduced to the foibles they previously mocked. With a trip to Paris in the depressingly predictable episode “French Twist,” that the change becomes clear. After years of resistance, rebellious Lorelai Gilmore (Lauren Graham) marries her high school sweetheart, Rory’s father Christopher Hayden (David Sutcliffe), to her parents’ delight.
Rosenthal portrays Lorelai as weak. She rebuffs Max Medina and turns away Digger, but after issuing an ultimatum to Luke, she loses her ability to say, “I don’t.”
Lorelai succumbs to Christopher and gets married though she loves Luke. His semi-rejection was enough for Rosenthal’s Lorelai to sacrifice her wants and needs for previously avoided convention.
Rory’s relationship with Logan (Matt Czuchry) has drama that is resolved within each episode. He panders in the hospital and then dismisses her crush on the new economics professor. There are faint rumblings of impending collapse, but a Rosenthal defibrillator saves them each week. One can only hope that Jess will come back with his books and snarky humor and rescue Rory from a society match.
Rosenthal’s writing does not take the Palladinos’ liberal stance. Lane (Keiko Agena) is pregnant after the first time having sex with her husband while using a condom. The storyline becomes confused with abstinence-only sex education.
She inspired her band in season five, "According to my mother I am going to hell for this. That’s commitment, my friends! Eternal damnation is what I’m risking for my rock and roll!” In season seven she is on bed rest with twins.
Richard and Emily (Ed Herrmann and Kelly Bishop) are the only characters that Rosenthal has preserved, though “I’d Rather Be in Philadephia” too closely relives “Forgiveness and Stuff,” an episode where Richard collapses and Emily adjusts to taking care of him.
Rosenthal excels in writing the relationship between Lorelai and Emily. Although their bickering is an essential component of the series, discussions of marriage and moments of alcohol-soaked honesty reveal similarities.
The characters of Lorelai and Rory were role models for women, independent, smart, sexy and funny. The Palladinos allowed the show to explore pertinent issues, but Rosenthal has focused on the far-fetched and dramatic this season, relying on pregnancies and heart problems to carry episodes. It may be time for Gilmore Girls to grow up, but he just needs to let them grow.
Gilmore Girls is shown Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on The CW. Palladino-era episodes are syndicated on the ABC Family Channel.