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Prior to a few weeks ago, I was one of the few who had never seen an episode of the pop culture phenomenon known as Gilmore Girls. I had heard of it, but thought it sounded too mushy and saccharine to have any interest. I once gave a good friend my Netflix password and she watched the entire series on my account, yet I remained indifferent. Somewhere along the line, I missed the memo that it was required viewing for all (mostly white) women between the ages of 18 and 35.
Suddenly, news of the revival broke; and the show became inescapable. Articles and news clips about it flooded social media, debates about whether you were #TeamJess or #TeamDean became regular topics of conversation, and references were abound. Without watching a single episode, my knowledge about the show consisted of the following:
- The main characters are a suspiciously youthful woman called Lorelai and her daughter, Rory (presumably the Gilmores), and they’re super close
- Takes place in a quaint New England-ish town
- Famous for fast talking
- People really wanted Lorelai to be with someone named Luke (who I think owned a restaurant?)
- The names of two of Rory’s love interests: Jess and Dean, because apparently whichever one you prefer is a really big deal.
- It is NOT A GAME. There are no “fans,” only diehard devotees.
- Wait, is that the guy from Supernatural?
Now, I treat finding a new series to binge-watch with the same consideration most people treat getting into a serious relationship. Am I ready for this level of commitment? Am I absolutely sure this is what I want? I do as much research as possible (I figure you can’t complain about “spoiler alerts” if something has been out for years) until I feel that the show and I are compatible.
Some quick Googling told me that the Gilmore Girls was older than I thought; running from October 5, 2000, to May 17, 2007. I’m 22 years old now, making me six years old during the pilot and 13 during the finale. Warily acknowledging that I should probably hop on the Stars Hollow haywagon if I wanted to have any idea what anyone was talking about for the next few months, I decided to take the plunge. Armed with only a sandwich, I pulled up my trusty Netflix queue and clicked on the pilot- 16 years after the fact.
Twenty minutes in, I understood. I understood the hype, the mania, and the cult following. It was hard not to love the quick wit of single mom Lorelai Gilmore and the bond she shared with her precocious daughter, Rory. It was impossible not to get sucked into the tight-knit town of Stars Hollow and its quirky inhabitants: cheery Sookie, garrulous Babette, vivacious Miss Patty, and grumpy-but-lovable Luke. The whole setting felt like a warm hug; the autumn leaf nostalgia woven with the legendary fast-paced dialogue made me feel like I was as much a part of the fictional town as the characters themselves.
I cheered for Rory on her first day at Chilton, hung on every word of Paris’s spiraling monologues, and urged on Luke and Lorelai. I felt every inch of Emily Gilmore’s pain when she saw where Lorelai first lived with Rory after running away, and the rush of Rory’s schoolgirl giddiness after her first kiss with Dean (sidenote: YOUNG JARED PADALECKI). I mourned with Lorelai after Christopher ran off to be with the pregnant Sherry, and blushed over the sizzling chemistry between Rory and Jess. Oh, and you better believe I cried like a baby during Rory’s Chilton graduation.
The first four seasons I loved. Season five was subpar, seasons six and seven mundane; but I suppose the same could be said for the life of most TV shows (I’m waiting a bit to watch A Year In The Life).
The show’s age definitely showed, however. Most of the pop culture references flew over my head, although every time they mentioned Hillary Clinton I tearfully whispered, “if you only knew.”There were definitely some elements that would have been ripe for backlash had it aired today; such as the distinct lack of diversity in the cast.
Similarly, I could base an entire essay on the show’s most glaringly outdated 2000s TV trope: the apparent need to punish young female characters for becoming sexually active (i.e., Paris believing losing her virginity led to her Harvard rejection, Lane’s “terrible” first time and subsequent unplanned pregnancy) and the utter lack of female choice. While motherhood was a prevalent theme throughout the show, every pregnancy-related storyline in Gilmore Girls seemed to hold the assumption that it absolutely would be carried to term, no matter how unplanned or unwanted (see: Lane, Sherry), without any acknowledgment that other options existed. Abortion is still a fairly taboo topic on TV today, but it’s been at least coming around in recent years.
In short, I feel as though I’ve finally validated my Girl Card on this one. Raise a cup of Luke’s finest coffee and toast to Stars Hollow, The Dragonfly Inn, Luke’s Diner, Doose’s Market, and all the rest.
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