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November 9, 2006

Where Have You Gone, Lorelai Gilmore?

In a recent post to JustTV, Jason points to Virginia Heffernan's smart New York Times article on the disappointing turn taken by The Gilmore Girls this season. As Jason points out, the show's change in direction can be attributed to the deprture of series creator Amy Sherman-Palladino and her husband, Daniel Palladino, (Lisa, at the Fayetteville Observer's TV blog, has a similar take).

Like Jason, I think Heffernan's article raises some interesting questions about TV authorship and how we "read" the series. Jason asks,

Will future scholarship of Gilmore Girls simply disregard or bracket off this season as not "core" to the show? By bracketing off such periods, like with the Sorkin-era West Wing or Northern Exposure under Brand & Falsey, do we assert a simplistic vision of authorship which is complicated by the inherently collaborative process of television production?
These are difficult questions to answer, of course, and Heffernan's article complicates these questions by pointing to the important contributions of the show's two stars, Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel, whose performances cannot be excluded from the show's "authorship." I do think a lot has been lost this season with the departure of Sherman-Palladino, namely the rapid-fire dialogue that evoked, for me, screwball comedy movies (or, as Heffernan suggests, a David Mamet play).

I don't have much else to add here, but I've been wanting to mention Jason's blog for a couple of days, and his post on The Gilmore Girls seemed like a good excuse. On a related note, his post on audience's "faith" in TV authors (the "Trust Joss syndrome") is also worth checking out.

Posted by chuck at November 9, 2006 11:17 AM

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Chuck - thanks for the shout-out. Now if only I could get commenting & trackbacks working on my site, we could get the links running two ways...

Posted by: Jason Mittell at November 9, 2006 11:16 PM

I'm picking up your link to my blog on Technorati, which tends to be pretty reliable. Unfortunately, I've pretty much given up on trackbacks here after getting so much trackback spam.

Posted by: Chuck at November 9, 2006 11:30 PM

I happen to think that the final year of Cheers doesn't count. The show ended with Woody and Kelly's wedding. There was nothing more to say and they should have folded the tent. TV series do have core story arcs. I think it works to think of them as being like the King Arthur stories---there have been lots of retellings, but only some of those added anything to the central myth and those are the only ones we care about and discuss when looking critically at the stories of the Round Table, the Grail, and the death of Arthur.

The very first Star Trek movie has been pretty much dropped from the official storyline.

And then we have the questions of Richie Cunningham's big brother and Hawkeye Pierce's sister...

Posted by: Lance Mannion at November 19, 2006 9:39 PM

You're right, of course. Many series long outlive their story arc (gotta score that syndication money), but I don't think that was necessaily the case with Gilmore Girls. The new writers have a much different understanding of the central characters, which is a little disappointing.

Of course, knowing me, I'd be the person who would write about this transition rather than the well-executed story arc that was already in place.

Posted by: Chuck at November 20, 2006 9:30 AM

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