Screenshots via Netflix.

Spoilers, dummies.

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After watching Lorelei word-vomit all over her father’s wake in the very first episode of Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, I was pretty much fed up with her and her daughter, who spent this reboot doing a Yale meltdown redux from over a decade ago. Who are these people who have not an ounce of sensitivity or consideration for anyone but themselves? Seriously, Rory, you showed up to a job interview without even reading the site?

But I watched the whole thing, because if you have any affection for the series at all, you have likely identified with the confusing morality of our two plucky protagonists at some point. Gilmore Girls is a fantasy like binge-eating tacos on top of donuts sandwiched by Pop Tarts, then having two main courses for dessert with no consequences—unless you’re Back Fat Pat (hey, fuck you Amy Sherman-Palladino). There are no consequences for following your romantic impulses either. Too bad for the faceless Odette or the forgettable Paul, who gets strung along for a year by someone too self-involved to even send a break-up text.

But that’s where reality comes in: people who get trashed by the Gilmores are forgotten or minimized, and I suspect that’s a sin many of us commit in our own lives. It’s repellent to watch, and familiar; Lorelei and Rory are assholes and I am too. Even so, I do think the series makes it very easy slip into their skins and focus on what’s important—how hot Rory’s boyfriends still are.

Logan Huntzberger’s appearance has been thoroughly covered so I’ll just say this: he is a bad man with a smarmy face.

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Now the other two.

Dean shows up to blab about some fake wife and some fake kids. I know they’re fake, because Dean has spent the last ten years killing monsters and living in an underground bunker. He was likely only visiting Stars Hollow to investigate a string of mysterious deaths in the Connecticut woods. Yes, he still looks hot as hell, because stabbing demons works your upper body, and men over six and a half feet don’t need to do a leg day. Dean slipped into his small-town persona perfectly, and reestablished what we always knew about him—that he was the perfect boyfriend, he made Rory feel safe, and there ain’t much to do in his company except pop out babies. Dean was like a sedative in the shape of very foxy man. In the end Rory didn’t want to take that pill every day for the rest of her life. She flushed him.

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Jess. Jess was the classic bad boy, and in the wake of this year in the life, I went back to revisit some early Jess and Rory relationship episodes. Jess was a jerk! He didn’t call, he didn’t participate in town events, he was full of a boiling anger that would come to be labeled as “toxic masculinity” in the years since the show ended. You know what else? Jess changed. He may be the only person at Stars Hollow who has changed. Jess still broods, reads sullenly in the corner, and rips routers out of the wall, but he can show up. He can listen. He can be supportive. Unlike Logan Whiteburger, he has experienced actual consequences for his behavior. Unlike Sam Winchester, he has the imagination to grow.

It was always Jess, and in the inevitable second year of the life we will likely be watching this time next year, he deserves a better rival than Rory’s sperm donor. It was always Jess, and even when Rory is seduced by Logan’s money and painfully orchestrated whimsy, it will still be Jess.