Dean’s List: We already have a huge issue with ‘Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life’
I’m already disappointed in Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life, and I haven’t watched a single frame.
Over the summer, Jared Padalecki — who portrays Rory Gilmore’s first boyfriend and, later on, her married secret fuckbuddy Dean Forester — let it slip that he only spent a day on set to shoot a single scene for the eagerly anticipated revival. So we can infer that Rory does not wind up back together with Dean, which is good. But if Dean only spends a few minutes on screen, the odds that showrunner Amy Sherman-Palladino devoted that meager window to Dean getting stabbed to death by a mugger, slowly crushed under a Zamboni, or falling out of a 12th story window are practically zilch.
This is a major problem.
Of course, Gilmore Girls is not the Walking Dead. If Dean perished in a house fire, bled to death after a bear pulled his arms off, or even asphyxiated on a bite of KFC caught in his windpipe, that would make him only the second major character the cult favorite dramedy ever killed off. And he’d be the first to die without a tragic mandate from reality. (Sadly, the 2014 passing of Edward Herrmann means Richard Gilmore won’t appear on A Year In The Life to dispense wisdom on social propriety and complain about a maid whose name he never remembers.)
To put it bluntly, I’m saying I’ll consider the Gilmore Girls revival — dropping on Netflix this Friday, November 25 — an insufficient coda to the Gilmore legacy and a missed opportunity unless it makes a wild, violent departure from the tone and spirit of the original show. Some people might dismisses this expectation as unreasonable — or even silly. Notwithstanding plausibility, Dean has it coming. Dean is a piece of shit.
Dean is an insecure philistine, a stupid hick, and handedly the most wretched of Rory’s three primary love interests. This says a lot, considering his competition for the title of “The Most Fucking Worthless Of All Time” includes Jess Mariano, a pretentious flake, and Logan Huntzberger, a self-loathing alcoholic.
Over the course of Gilmore Girls’ seven seasons, despicable herb Dean dumps Rory three times. Three. Times. The first time was ‘cos he dropped the L-bomb on her and she didn’t return the favor quickly enough for his fucked up satisfaction. The second time was ‘cos Rory was kinda sorta making googly eyes at Jess. The third time was ‘cos Dean realized Rory’s new friends from Yale have more money than he does. Dean flips over the pettiest bullshit ever. Fuck Dean.
In fairness, Dean, Jess, and Logan all become chiller dudes or bigger dickheads depending on what serves the storyline they’re unwittingly participating in at any given time. For one example, season five Dean demonstrates a degree of shadiness of which gratingly wholesome season one Dean could never conceive. Arguably, Rory hasn’t had boyfriends, so much as she’s dated breathing, talking plot devices in want of static personalities. Matt Murdock, of all people, copes with roughly the same dilemma, except whereas supervillains murder most of his girlfriends, Rory’s boyfriends find reasons to disappear when their actors get offered bigger parts on other shows.
So if the ongoing Team Dean vs. Team Jess debate turns pointless when framed in the context of which character is more likeable or which actor is prettier, then it’s ultimately more of an argument about archetypes. That would explain how it’s possible that Milo Ventimiglia — who got his big break playing Jess and scans as entirely cognizant of his superior handsomeness — identifies himself as an unabashed member of Team Dean.
It also explains why nobody gives a fuck about Logan. Let’s say Jess represents every malcontent who fashions himself irreverent and enlightened because he’s read Naked Lunch and hates his parents. We’ve all known at least 15 lame dudes like Jess, so we all have first person opinions and perspectives on his archetype. Logan — heir to a global media empire — is a one percenter with one percenter problems, and therefore, might as well be a space alien to 99 percent of a mainstream television audience.
But for every 15 Jesses in the real world, there are 30 Deans working at the same small town grocery store their entire adult lives, earnestly believing ‘90s alt-rock is the pinnacle of popular music in human history, and reading zero books. Dean’s demographic — i.e., white guys who didn’t finish college — strongly suggests he voted for Donald Trump.
Even setting aside the questionable fairness of judgements based on stereotypes, no sane person thinks a deeply regrettable decision at the polling booth or poor conduct during a high school romance warrants physical harm, much less an execution, in the real world. But Dean doesn’t live in the real world. He lives in make believe TV land. If Sherman-Palladino wanted to, she could murder Dean, torture him for a while beforehand, and mutilate his corpse as much as she felt like. Nothing she can do to Dean will ever be illegal, because under the law, Dean Forester has no rights.
Dean will survive A Year In The Life, no doubt. And should the revival succeed and Netflix request a second batch of feature-length episodes — assuming Padalecki isn’t too busy shooting Supernatural: The Movie, or whatever — he’ll probably make it through that one unscathed too.
Nonetheless, I will continue to hope for a freak accident — perhaps one involving a vat of hydrochloric acid, or a malfunctioning nail gun, or even a plain ol’ electrical appliance in a bathtub — to rid Stars Hollow of Dean Forrester’s rotten smug garbage face once and for all.
Follow Barry Thompson on Twitter @barelytomson.