5 Reasons to Watch Gilmore Girls
Gilmore Girls went off the air after its seven season run in 2007, but it remains one of the most beloved dramedies of our time. Starring Lauren Graham as the fast-talking Lorelai Gilmore and Alexis Bledel as her intelligent daughter and best friend, the show, created from the genius mind of Amy Sherman-Palladino, won an Emmy and received wide critical acclaim. Here are five reasons you should watch (or re-watch) this quirky series.
Carole King recorded a new version of “Where You Lead,” featuring her daughter, Louise Goffin, for the Gilmore Girls theme song. In addition to being great to sing along with, both the song and the mother-daughter duo singing it set the perfect tone for a show about a mother and daughter who are each other’s best friends. Carole King’s later recurring role as Sophie, the owner of the local music store, further cements her as a member of the Gilmore Girls family. Even more so than the theme, the music that truly embodies the show is the backing tracks, frequently called the “La La’s,” written and performed by Sam Phillips. In a recent retrospective, Phillips recalls that Amy Sherman-Palladino “wanted the music to be one of the characters in the story — as though it were the music inside the mother and daughter’s heads.” The “La La’s” give the show a distinctive yet varying tone—at intervals whimsical, folksy, lighthearted, or melancholy, depending on the scene, the tracks are instantly recognizable to any fan of the show.
In a world where an overwhelming majority of films and television shows are male-driven, Gilmore Girls is refreshingly different. Created by the brilliant Amy Sherman-Palladino, the heart of the show is the mother-daughter relationship between Lorelai and Rory Gilmore and the unbreakable bond the two share. Also essential to the sanity of the two main Gilmore girls are their best friends. Sookie St. James, Lorelai’s confidante and closest friend, is a warm blend of kindness and spunk and the perfect complement to Lorelai’s frequent frenzy. Rory’s best friend, Lane Kim, is a music expert, misunderstood by her mother, and Rory’s frequent companion. Paris Geller, originally Rory’s nemesis at Chilton, comes off as overbearing, competitive, and oftentimes mean, but the friendship she develops with Rory over seven seasons is one of the gems of the series.
One of the greatest triumphs of Gilmore Girls is its depiction of female friendship: Sookie, Lane, and Paris are not simply sidekicks to Lorelai and Rory—they are nuanced, well-developed characters, all with their own quirks, neither defined by their relationship to the protagonists nor to their eventual boyfriends and/or husbands. Sookie is often klutzy but is a phenomenal chef, and we watch her confidence grow as she marries, starts a family, creates her own catering company, and becomes co-owner of the inn of her and Lorelai’s dreams. We see Lane living a double life as she hides her passion for music from her mother, covertly learning to play the drums and joining a band, and we watch her gain both her independence and ultimately, as she matures, an understanding of her mother. We realize that there is more to Paris than her standoffish demeanor suggests—she is sensitive and has a difficult relationship with her family, but we watch her growth from a determined force who is devastated by any failure to someone equally driven who can recover from setbacks and remain strong.
3. Quirky Characters
The chance to go to Luke’s Diner, the Dragonfly Inn, and Al’s Pancake World (which serves a variety of ethnic cuisine) would be reason enough to visit the idyllic town of Stars Hollow, as would shopping at Kim’s Antiques or Le Chat Club, but the biggest draw of this small Connecticut town is its residents. Kirk Gleason, whose surname is mentioned exactly once over the course of the series, is worthy of his own point on this list. His entrepreneurial spirit is unparalleled, and he works at virtually every Stars Hollow establishment at some point. His own business endeavors are equally amusing, from printing daily t-shirts featuring humorous topical headlines of something he witnesses about town—including such noteworthy events as “Babette ate oatmeal!”—to marketing his new “Hay There!” skin care line, based on his observation that “cows never wrinkle” and subsequent discovery that the “secret of the cows” is hay. He also has a malicious cat named Kirk and suffers from night terrors that can pose a bit of a problem to his romantic life. As he reflects, “The worst part of night terrors is it always ends up with me on top of the roof completely naked or running down the street completely naked or swimming in the community-center pool completely naked.” Essentially, anytime Kirk is on-screen, viewers can expect to see comedic gold.
There’s also Taylor Doose, the Town Selectman, owner of Doose’s Market, strict rule-abider, and constant adversary of Luke. Babette, collector of gnomes, and Miss Patty, owner of the local dance studio, are the town gossips, spreading news like wildfire and unabashedly flirting with any good-looking man they happen upon. From the official town troubadour to the town loner, Stars Hollow has no shortage of vibrant and intriguing personalities, all remarkably well-developed in their own right.
2. Witty Banter
Oy with the poodles already! Where to begin? In the world of Gilmore Girls, fast-paced dialogue is the norm. As David Sutcliffe, who plays Christopher Hayden, reflects in an interview, “The average one hour TV drama script is probably 40-some pages, a page a minute is what they go for, and I remember getting Gilmore Girls scripts that were 73-pages long and dense with dialogue, so you had to burn through it.” This breakneck pace may take some getting used to for the new viewer, but the caffeine-fueled frenzy of each episode is one of the most endearing aspects of the show. It also allows the writers to pack as many pop culture references as is humanly possible into the dialogue. Watching the show often becomes a challenge to see how many obscure allusions you understand. This is one of the greatest gifts of Gilmore Girls: with each re-watch, I understand a reference I never caught before. Though it may seem that a show with so many obscure references would be alienating to some audiences, there are enough mainstream references to engage any audience, and not understanding a reference rarely takes away from appreciating the show as a whole.
That being said, Gilmore Girls is a show that refuses to talk down to its audience. People frequently use the word “smart” to describe their favorite television shows, but a truly smart show includes not just intelligent characters with sophisticated vocabularies but complex, flawed, well-developed characters written by people who believe their audience has the capacity to appreciate these characters. In an era when far too many shows rely on stereotypes and tired gags, Gilmore Girls remains one of the most intelligent shows of our time. Whip-smart comebacks and quotable lines abound over the course of the series, including such pearls of wisdom as, “When a woman gives birth to a crack baby, you do not buy her a puppy.” Dean, Rory’s first boyfriend, does an excellent job of explaining the many bits Lorelai and Rory perform when he tells Max, “Go with their bits…like, if you’re eating pizza with them and Lorelai decides that the pepperoni is angry at the mushrooms because the mushrooms have an attitude and then she holds up a pepperoni and the pepperoni asks for your opinion…don’t just laugh. Answer the pepperoni.”
1. Family Ties
No list of reasons to watch Gilmore Girls would be complete without discussing the familial relationships the show depicts. One of the most valuable qualities of the show is its diverse exploration of all sorts of family ties, from close and harmonious to controlling and dysfunctional. Most importantly, none of these relationships is perfect and none is all bad. The central relationship between Lorelai and Rory rests on the notion that they are “best friends first and mother and daughter second,” as Lorelai explains to her own mother, Emily. Such a relationship may seem idealized, but Lorelai and Rory aren’t impervious to fights over petty, and in a few instances, major issues. Still, the two share a bond that continues to charm viewers years later.
Lorelai’s relationship with her own parents is a source of much tension. After leaving home at age seventeen, a year after Rory’s birth, Lorelai’s already tenuous relationship with her parents is all but cut off until her need for a loan to pay Rory’s tuition brings them together again. Emily Gilmore often comes across as conniving and manipulative, but her moments of humanity are frequent enough to endear her to the audience. Though Lorelai complains about her mother frequently, and there are times when Emily seems villainous, moments like Emily and Richard coming to Lorelai’s graduation from business school add to the complex and refreshingly realistic layers of their relationship. Much of the trouble springs from the mere fact that Emily does not understand her daughter, from Lorelai’s sense of humor to her actions. Though Emily makes bad choices much of the time, these are often tied to a desire to do what she believes is best for her daughter, as illustrated by her attempts to bring Lorelai and Christopher, Rory’s father, together.
Lane has a similar relationship with her mother. Neither Emily nor Mrs. Kim quite understands how they end up with daughters so unlike themselves and who have little interest in their values. Though Emily and Mrs. Kim often seem oppressive, the good intentions that they normally possess depict the realistic, complicated relationships that are common in most families. Not everyone can have a mother-daughter relationship like Lorelai and Rory’s, but if Gilmore Girls teaches us anything, it’s that all relationships based in love have a chance to develop and grow.
Whether you’re a first-time viewer or a long-time fan, Gilmore Girls has no shortage of wisdom and hilarity to impart. As fans cling to hope for an eventual Gilmore Girls movie, we can take comfort in knowing that we have seven seasons of Stars Hollow charm and Gilmore wit to revisit whenever we like. After all, it’s not a show—it’s a lifestyle.
What do you think? Leave a comment.
If I’m on a re-watch of the series I dread season 6 and 7. Season 6 is just really slow and boring and a lot of moments are hard to watch. Then season 7 is basically the same as season 6 but with less funny moments.
I hate the concepts of the stories in season 6 but I think they’re better executed. Then, I like the concepts of the stories in season 7 but I don’t like the way they’re executed. It’s hard to explain. I appreciate season 7 but I don’t enjoy watching it, and I despise season 6 but I like watching it more than I like watching season 7.
I think season 6 just goes by too slowly, which usually I’m okay with. Gilmore Girls is very slow and there are even episodes where nothing happens at all. But season 6 just didn’t have much payoff from the waiting. Lorelai and Rory reuniting was fun but then after that it was like… “Is that it??!” I think there were just too many bad things happening to the characters that season. The characters being happy and running through fields of flowers and singing Carpenter songs is boring, yes, but there was so much drama that season that it was hard to enjoy.
Looking back at this great show, I thought Lindsey was my least favourite character.
Aw I actually kind of like Lindsey. I think she gets a bad rap as we really only ever see her through Rory’s eyes…with the exception of a couple of scenes with Dean. I think she was a nice girl who was trying really really hard with the wrong guy. And I get why she’d give Rory dirty looks. She probably heard Dean’s version of the breakup and…well…that wasn’t going to paint Rory in a good light…
i always liked lindsay. her character got a pretty unfair deal.
she was weird to rory in the beginning because a) rory is her boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend! and b) she probably saw/knew about what went down at the dance-a-thon thing where dean accused rory of being in love with jess, so i’m guessing she was all “you broke my man’s heart, you b!tch”
and then of course, rory slept with her husband, had no remorse about it, blamed lindsay and took no responsibility for it whatsoever.
I don’t know about throwing Rory dirty looks – the first time we saw her Lindsay looked more or less awkward because Rory didn’t know she was dating Dean.
Then when her and Lorelai bumped into her and Dean at the meeting, her and Rory came off as looking slightly insane because they kept going on about a magnate Lindsay bought Rory when they were little, if you are outside the Gilmore bubble and have just bumped into them in the street they came off as somewhere between insane and being condescending. As for the party, well it was awkward and then Jess and by extension Rory went into hipster douchebag mode and started mocking her so any dirty look thrown in their direction weren’t exactly out of place.
When they met at the Inn Lindsay seemed uncomfortable but not hostile to Rory. Then on the build up to the affair do you blame Lindsay for thrwoing Rory looks especially after the store?
We saw Lindsay from Rory’s POV, we never got her POV so it is hard to say she is my least favourite character because she was more of a plot point than a character.
Lindsay didn’t really have enough characterization to warrant any sort of opinion from me, positive or negative. Although I sort of view her as more of a victim of the situation between herself, Dean, and Rory. Her jealousy toward Rory probably didn’t help things with Dean, BUT in the end, it was justified since Dean did end up sleeping with her. Both she and Dean were just two kids who rushed into marriage without thinking it through thoroughly. I honestly do think that even if Rory hadn’t gotten involved with him, Dean and Lindsay would’ve either divorced eventually or remained in a relatively loveless marriage…although I do lean toward the former more.
They had some great characters on the show beside the main cast. Like I love the Harvard alumnus Darren Springsteen whom Rory and Lorelai had dinner with in S3 – Application Anxiety. He was quirky so he fit in with the gilmore girl world, but more normal than his kids, and was really just a nice guy. I still haven’t looked up who the actor was, but he was great.
my favorite one episode characters: Morey and Babette’s second cat Apricot. So cute and still a little clumsy. Miss Patty’s date Jesus, Taylor’s older (?) brother who gave him a hard time, Pennilyn Lott (she just stirred things up, who knows what potential there still was, when she, say, not only met with Richard, but also with Trix…), TJ’s brother.
Sometimes the writers create weird situations just for the sake of it, and then toss the characters right into the garbage instead of the recycling bin. I think Tobin would have been good competition for Michel in the Dragonfly years. I know, we saw Tobin twice, but he still counts lol.
Same goes for the TA Rory had a crush on (can you even call it that?). A crush normally lasts longer than a day or two. And the scene was absurd enough, they could have developed something out of it.
I loved the mother of those horrifying twins having the double wedding in the third episode. She was just so done, and it cracked me up.
Another favorite was Carolyn, the psychiatrist played by Melora Hardin that Lorelai ends up having a session in the car with. I wish she’d had a recurring role.
My favorite show but I get way too upset with Season 6 – I honestly don’t think I like any of it.
I know I won’t make any friends with this comment ; ) but I really dislike the fast paced nature of the clunky dialogue in the show. I feel like the scriptwriters just didn’t know how to “cut the fat” and still convey what was going on with all its nuances, forcing the actors to speak at unnaturally fast paces. We actually watch this show as a not-how-to write dialogue in playwriting classes…something like Arrested Development is a much better tv show where the dialogue is still meaty without being…however you want to describe it.
The first 4 seasons I loved, but after Rory slept with Dean I could barely watch it anymore. It was a pretty awful thing to do, and she didn’t appear to really regret it. It was just hard to like her after that. I wish I could just pretend those next seasons didn’t exist.
I still enjoyed the show and did finish it up and still rewatch it, but for me season six is when I started getting fed-up with it. More specifically the April plot line an it’s effect on Luke and Lorelai.
Now if I ever want to re-watch season six (cause to be fair there are some parts in it I like) I skip all scenes with April or where characters talk about April or the marriage being postponed and I stop before the last two episodes.
Not really, because I was so far into the show that I loved all the characters and I wasn’t going to say good-bye before I had to. But I was really mad with the introduction of April. That was terrible, and if I hadn’t loved the show so much, I would have stopped watching.
I own all 7 seasons, but I usually stop watching at the end of season 5.
I kind of loved how awful Rory became in the later seasons. There was something interesting about seeing somebody who was seen as “the perfect child” in high school become not so perfect in college.
Such a great article! You’ve inspired me to watch it back to back – I’ve only ever seen episodes out of order and on the spare occasion, never really knowing who is who or any context. The humour of it always kept me watching though, even when I was completely in the dark about what was actually going on!
I grew up on this show. It was great to see a lead character who is smart and funny and dealing with all the typical teen angst. It also shows teen pregnancy in the right amount of light – it is not the wondrous spotlight even Teen Moms makes it out to be. Lorelei has to work hard to raise herself and her daughter.
Gilmore Girls is one of my all time favorite shows! I marathoned all seven seasons a few years ago and it was such a great experience. Rory and Lorelai are the perfect protagonists and the town is so weird and interesting. I think the quality did suffer a bit in the college years, but I’m glad it ended with Luke and Lorelai back together and Rory rejecting Logan -I always thought she should have ended up with Jess 🙂
Gilmore Girls is my go to, decompress from my day, day-to-day, stress reliever-because I have watched the series several times over and I don’t notice the pace of the dialogue anymore. It was quite disturbing at first. I agree with all of your reasons especially the pop-culture (and like) references used in everyday conversation.ASP must have a lot of famous friends, because sometimes these references ride the fence of potentially offensive. I, in turn, have also used GG references in my Comp classes-partially because the show appeals to a wide audience and is like you say-“a lifestyle”
Oh Gilmore Girls will always remain one of the most beloved shows, just because of how witty the dialogue is. Not much can be happening in the show and yet it keeps you enthralled with its literary ingenuity. LOVE LOVE LOVE Gilmore Girls
Great list! I’d never really considered the Gilmore Girls but may need to give it a look-in! 🙂
I loved Gilmore Girls, but unfortunately whenever I re-watch the series now I find myself disliking Rory more and more.
Maybe it’s because I know how her character develops into a privileged tantrum-throwing (yacht stealing?!) brat towards the later series and it really casts some shade on her early characterisation. Not to mention the fact that Rory never has to answer for any of her actions and still gets everything she wants falling into her lap, because everybody in the entire on-screen world is inexplicably head-over-heels in love with her.
This was a great show for its fresh approach to each reason mentioned above, especially the way those quirky characters developed over time in believable, yet original, ways. One other reason to watch might be the show’s setting, which, like its characters, seemed to have a life, storyline and development trajectory all its own.
I have only watched an episode or two of this show but your article has made me want to. All of those things make for great stories and it is always a nice change to see a show with women who do not fit into nice stereotypes.
It should be a sin to take Gilmore Girls off the air.
It is the quirky nature of this programme that sets in the ‘memorable’ category so that fans, such as myself, continue to return it over the years. The realistic and emotional elements, for example those mentioned in this piece, including familial bonds, is relatable, but continues to be enjoyable alongside the quirky wit. The style of speech of Gilmore Girls, Veronica Mars and Buffy the Vampire Slayer creates a new genre of television.
This is perfect and makes me want to rewatch this entire series. The way GG wrote female friendships was so rare and special. I wish there was something I enjoyed as much as Gilmore Girls on at the moment!
Couldn’t agree more! I love love love Sam Phillips’ music and the soundtrack overall, not to mention the characters – and the actors behind them are amazing people as well! This will always be my favourite TV show.
Great summary of the show’s best elements. When life is stressing me out, I put on GG so I can be distracted by their witty banter. It’s a comfort thing.
Also, I usually put on season 3 because I like to live vicariously through Jess and Rory’s really strange relationship..
You basically summed it up in your “Witty Characters” section, but the only other thing that stood out to me is the Small Town Setting. I mean, it’s basically interchangeable with the witty characters described here, but it’s interesting to imagine this show in different setting – like a big city. Maybe you could still pull it off in that “neighbourhood/community” way to some extent, but the show and the characters’ relationships just wouldn’t be the same. Stars Hollow is like my second home!
Gilmore Girls is one of my favourite shows! I agree with everything you said but especially the one about witty banter and quirky characters. It’s one of those shows that I constantly find myself rewatching, it never gets old.
I have vague memories of watching it a lot as a kid, and recently I binge-watched every episode on Netflix. It sucked me in at the time, but I don’t think it’s a show I would watch again. At least not til a lot later when it’s for nostalgia’s sake.