Five steps to loving Stars Hollow: The Musical from 'Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life'
We have had a week to sit with the Gilmore Girls revival. And while I'm never going to excuse certain things — Lorelai would NOT be okay with Rory's questionable life choices; Paris and Doyle would definitely get back together because they are perfect for each other — I don't think I was ever going to be capable of hating whatever Amy Sherman Palladino and her husband Daniel produced.
Even Stars Hollow: The Musical.
Especially Stars Hollow: The Musical.
There have been a lot of flaming hot takes on the musical-within-the-show, which we see about 10 uninterrupted minutes of in the Summer episode. Takes like this:
that whole stars hollow musical, the most pointless 15 minutes of my life i nearly fell asleep what reason that was so long idk can we not— h! (@gilmoresdornan) November 25, 2016
This stupid Stars Hollow Musical taking away valuable time with characters and plot lines #GilmoreGirlsRevival— Katie (@KatieC_Gardnerr) November 29, 2016
And don't forget this one:
No matter what you thought of the revival, good or bad review, we can collectively bond in our hatred of Stars Hollow: The Musical.— ˗ˏˋ julie ˎˊ˗ (@uniqueharding) November 26, 2016
But I believe that, with enough time and consideration, everyone can come to appreciate what I do: an amusing parody that's in line with many of the other wacky things Stars Hollow has done these past 20 years. Here are five steps to loving Stars Hollow: The Musical.
Step 1: Watch it again: I liked the entirety of A Year in the Life more the second time I watched it. I think it was because the initial shock of seeing the show back wore off, and I was able to watch it like I would watch any Gilmore episode with which I had already lived a little. I found many things, the musical among them, more endearing as a result of seeing them again.
Step 2: Embrace the cheese: If you’re watching Gilmore Girls, there's a good chance you also worship at the altar of musical theater. If you don’t, well, of course you didn’t like Stars Hollow: The Musical. This is a musical at its most musicaliest, and I suspect some people's strong reactions to it are based on how they would react to, say, West Side Story or The Music Man. But Gilmore Girls has always embraced camp and whimsy and fandom. The OG show references musicals throughout its run: Cabaret! Funny Girl! Grease! Footloose! This sort of over-the-top staging is practically woven into the fabric of Taylor Doose's sweater vest.
Step 3: Appreciate the pedigree: This one goes with the one above, because the names I’m about to drop won’t mean much to a person whose knowledge of musical theater stops at Hamilton. The list of people who helped bring Stars Hollow: The Musical to life include Jeanine Tesori, a prolific female composer with five Tony nominations whose most recent show is the Broadway hit Fun Home, two-time Tony-winning actor Sutton Foster and fellow two-time Tony winner Christian Borle. These are people who could get together to form an actual real-life musical, and charge $90 a ticket, and stage it in a cramped theater off Times Square. But here is a free-with-Netflix-subscription chance to enjoy 10 minutes of solid musical theater creation, from the comfortable confines of your couch!
Step 4: Realize it's not supposed to be good: In the world of the show, this is a musical written by Taylor Doose. Remember when he staged that diorama presentation in the short-lived Stars Hollow History Museum? That was downright bone-chilling - and lol-worthy. Stars Hollow: The Musical is supposed to be cringey, but mostly in the world of the show, which is why Lorelai can’t stand it. On the show-within-a-show level, it's a parody of community theater (and of Taylor's weighty view of the tiny town) that's supposed to be funny. I present these moments as proof of hilarity:
-Notice Christian Borle maniacally gesturing to Sutton Foster when she sings the first verse of the opening song.
-Anytime the show cuts to Taylor singing along to his creation.
-Borle throwing a *plastic cup* against the wall for angry effect.
-"You are me in pants."
"And you are me in a dress."
-The vaguely Hispanic dude who crashes the musical rapping like Hamilton.
Step 5: Open your ears to hear some dope harmonies: Parodying aside, Foster and Borle could sell just about anything onstage. But it helps greatly that the actual music, written by Tesori, is terrific. I am STILL singing the chorus to its opening number, as I would (and do) with real musicals: "We’re working on building, working on building, STARS HOLLOW!" But my favorite might be the third song, which starts as a dramatic, Rent-inspired number that lists the scourges of modern life (Borle's "What restaurants charge for wine"?! Me = slayed) as a way to prove how great Stars Hollow is and ends with a kick-line. There's everything to love about the town of Stars Hollow, indeed.
BONUS REASON TO NOT HATE THE MUSICAL: It's not the only reason you didn't get more of what you wanted: Look, I’m upset as anyone that the Palladinos seem to have written Lane off completely after they found out her character birthed twins in the Palladino-less Season 7. But Stars Hollow: The Musical’s 10-minute run time isn’t solely to blame. Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life is downright shaggy thanks to its 90-minute episodes, and there are plenty of non-musical scenes that could have been cut to devote more time to Lane's life or Paris and Doyle's reconciliation. Things like most of Lorelai’s Wild journey, the entire chunk after the actual musical where they debate the merits of the musical and the bulk of Logan’s ingratiating time on screen.