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.
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