The legend of the Gilmore Girls’ Final Four Words goes like this: Creator Amy Sherman-Palladino came up with the last four words, which she hoped to use at the very end of the series, all the way back in Season 1 of the WB-to-CW classic. Due to contract issues, Sherman-Palladino had nothing to do with the final season of the show and, therefore, was robbed of the chance to have her characters say those last four words. In the lead-up to the revival, Sherman-Palladino revealed that she’s spent 15 years waiting to release these words into the sky, thereby igniting a feverish, desperate curiosity among her fans, who spent Thanksgiving dinner wondering: Will it be Lorelai who says the words? Rory? Emily? Will the words be about pizza or coffee or Dean?
Finally, we know. Here, the all-important final four words of Gilmore Girls: (Spoilers, obviously.)
Rory: I’m pregnant.
A historic exchange — a truly seismic combination of words! But are these “final four words” worth all the hype? Are they the right words? To find out, we must go word by word, building block by building block. Reviewing the parts to recognize the whole.
Word No. 1: Mom. Well, Mom is a palindrome, the same backward and forward, which gives it an element of comfort. No matter which way you go, Mom will always be Mom — a constant, consistent presence and relationship.
The word itself is also comforting to say, like you’re speaking chicken noodle soup. While the word is mostly consonants, they are soft ones. Mmmmmm — it’s a soothing noise. It’s also monosyllabic, so you’re not wasting any time when you yell “Mom!” or murmur “Mom.” It gets the point across quickly: Mom, I need you. But it can be more complex than that. Much like a Danish or German word, Mom is one small word that expresses a dense and complex concept — the archetype of mother, which implies the mother-daughter relationship, what it means to be maternal, the symbolic idea of motherhood, as well as what it means to be a Lorelai to a Rory. Clever, Sherman-Palladino. Very clever. You left us a little Easter egg.
Word No. 2: “Yeah.” Ugh. Yeah. I guess it’s a necessary word — a sort of a bland, multi-use workhorse. Derived from the more formal affirmative, “yes,” “yeah” is the Dickies pants of responses: good for frequent, casual usage. It’s comfortable, but distracted, noncommittal, slightly disinterested. For example: “Do you want to come to my wedding?” “Yeah.” Not a ton of enthusiasm or focus. “Yeah” often feels like a gray area between yes and no, or an “I didn’t really hear you,” or, in the case of Lorelai and Rory’s exchange, an “I am in no way prepared for anything other than a casual follow-up question.” “Yeah” makes me think the conversation should have gone like this:
“Love you.” Or “You want coffee?” Or “You smell.” Or “Left my flat iron on.” Or “Why’s Kirk still in the house?”
“Yes, Rory?” would have been the more formal response, an indication that Lorelai was mentally prepared to receive Rory’s Big News. In fact, the combination of the first two words has sort of lulled us into thinking everything is fine, comfortable, nothing will change, and that the final two words were probably going to be totally mundane — a classic Sherman-Palladino feint.
Word No. 3: I’m. Ah, I’m. I am. I — the roman numeral of one. I is about the singular self — it draws a line between the self and everyone else. When you say I, you are referring to just you, nobody else. All you, all about you. There is no I in team, but there are many I’s in narcissist — a good saying for Rory.
To be fair to our millennial Gilmore, examining the self in moderation is important, which is why the word “I” exists. You can utter lots of “I” phrases in the journey to self-discovery: I want, I need, I am, I will be, I feel, I am not. I, in itself is not a sentence, however — it is a tiny little cliff-hanger. Which gets us to the final word: pregnant.
Word No. 4: Pregnant. This is the gut punch; there is no way to hear this word without a strong, visceral reaction to the state of being. It’s also hard to say, with a whole mess of harsh consonants at the end. You can literally choke trying to say this word to someone. It’s also easy to hear incorrectly. (“You’re what? A magnet? Stagnant? Say that again?”) But in pure definition, it’s a nice word: It’s about fertility, the ability to give new life, to create, to put forth in the world. Maybe Rory is not even referring to a baby? If it were a dream, Rory might just be “pregnant” with another idea for a book, or perhaps her beloved Condé Nast. In the dream world, pregnancy rarely has to do with an actual fertilized egg, but just the idea of being full of creative life force.
In the physical world, pregnant means a nine-month gestation period and a baby. How does that make you feel? Fearful, like you are pregnant with spiders? Or excited? Are you ready for pregnant? OK, too far, here are the real questions: Is Rory ready for pregnant? Is pregnant at 32 while unemployed and living in your childhood bedroom any better than pregnant at 16 with no job living in an inn? Or: How does anyone get ready for “pregnant”?
The Four Final Words: With “Mom? Yeah? I’m pregnant,” the show has come full circle — Lorelai and Rory have lived through enough material for a literal book, and now Rory is set up to the begin the single-mom sequel. It’s a neat conclusion, but in some ways, it feels cheap; wasn’t the whole point of the show that Lorelai was giving Rory a different future? Why, then, was Rory’s fate to end up basically in the same place, just a little later, with no real career prospects and a mom who is veering wildly toward Emily “This Is Not What I Wanted For You!” Gilmore territory? Also, though the father is almost definitely Logan, and though we should have seen the Christopher parallels from, like, five seasons away, did Gilmore Girls really need a “Who shot J.R.?”–style cliff-hanger? This is not Scandal, guys.
But if you look at the four words on a character-by-character basis, maybe it’s just fine. Rory’s not the Yale-educated, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist the show set her up to become, but her book will inevitably be a “hit,” and she already has the follow-up growing in her uterus. (It’s a girl, don’t even pretend.) Emily Gilmore will have a great-granddaughter to take to tea. (They have tea on Nantucket, right?) It’s probably not great for Lorelai, who will suffer some sort of age crisis once she realizes she is going to be a grandmother, but she’ll get on board. It’s also good for the Gilmore Girls lineage, which is basically an all-female royal dynasty at this point. It’s important to continue the bloodline and produce more fast-talking, junk-food-inhaling, brunette heirs — good for society, on a macro level, even though we’re all exhausted with the verbal pace. Logan is going to have some complications. Luke will just make a burger or whatever. And Amy Sherman-Palladino will come up with thousands more words, because these last four are basically synonyms for “cash-cow sequel.” Congratulations to the next generation.