This post reveals plot points about both the Netflix revival of Gilmore Girls and the show’s original seasons.
In the Netflix revival of Gilmore Girls, Rory, it turns out, has a long-term boyfriend. One who is not named Dean or Jess or Logan, but instead Jeffrey. Or maybe Alan. Or Billy? Wait—Pete. Pete, right? Which would actually be pretty appropriate, in a meta kind of way?
Welcome to one of the earliest of many running jokes in the show’s revival, which is that Rory has a boyfriend named Paul—his name, for the record, is Paul—and that nobody, including Lorelai and Luke, can remember his name or, indeed, anything about him. Paul is perfectly nice, if a bit obsequious; he visits Rory in Stars Hollow, and brings not only flowers for her, but also thoughtful gifts for her family. And his kindness is repaid by forgetfulness: Rory forgets that she invited him. She and her mother head out for breakfast at Luke’s without him, simply forgetting he is there. When Paul meets them at the diner, good-natured as ever, they manage to leave him there.
That the new Gilmore Girls would make so many jokes at the expense of kind, forgettable Paul isn’t, on the whole, terribly surprising. While Stars Hollow may embody some of the best aspects of life in a small town—the intimacy, the democracy, the sense of an “us” to be fought for—it can also, at times, embody the worst: the insularity. The exclusivity. The sense of a “them” to be fought against. The mingling of all of those things, in the seven original seasons of Gilmore Girls, led to a show that is deeply concerned with questions of belonging—about who may be counted as “one of us” and who, by implication, may not. The show’s Netflix revival, Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, has only amplified those anxieties: The Stars Hollow of 2016 is place that, though it congratulates itself on its cosmopolitanism, remains deeply provincial. Paul, the outsider, found that out the hard way.