Starring: Lauren Graham, Alexis Bledel, Scott Patterson, Kelly Bishop, Melissa McCarthy, Keiko Agena, Yanic Truesdale, Edward Herrmann
Created by: Amy Sherman-Palladino
Gilmore Girls was a comedy-drama television series which ran from October 5th, 2000 until May 15th, 2007. In this unbelievably short space of time (generally speaking) it managed to amass a huge following of die-hard fans ageing in range from teen to elderly. Misconceptions that this was a ‘sit-down-and-watch-with-your-mother’ type program was what the WB Network were initially banking on. But in actual fact, it’s much more than that. It’s gritty, it’s realistic. It’s also whimsical, and downright hilarious. It features more up-and-comers than you can poke a stick at, and stands in my opinion as one of the defining television programs of the first decade in this 21st Century.
Within this review, I will cover a lot of ground — from how the show was brutally shaded by the Emmys, to where you’ve seen those familiar Stars Hollow locations before.
MY GILMORE GIRLS EXPERIENCE:
Where were you when it started?
Being an Australian in the days before downloading was the norm, I was very late to the game thanks to those pesky hemispheres and their yin and yang effect on the seasons. However, I remember my first Gilmore experience quite well, for reasons unknown. It was a December night in 2001 when I finally climbed aboard the Gilmore Express. Unfortunately, it was episode two, but I got the gist of it. And from there-on-in, I was hooked. I was the same age as Rory, albeit six months younger. I related to her desire to read books, although I hated school. I’d just joined a private school myself, so it was like the show was mirroring my own life (we’ll get into this spookfest later).
With two episodes to burn each week for the summer break, I was delighted when it continued on well into 2002’s ratings season (February onwards). Obviously, it was a success. People were talking about it in school, but it wasn’t an in-your-face popularity like Friends was at the time. Mainly because it was on Saturday nights. Despite this, it was without a doubt ‘can’t-miss’ television each week. But people were chill about it. They were cool, like Paul Rudd’s character in Clueless.
By the time the second season ended in July of that year, I was sad to see it go, but grateful for the huge chunk of episodes we were given. (Note that this is the only time Channel Nine Australia was ever kind to programs I liked. Burn in hell, you low-life money hungry bastards)
It returned for season three in February 2003 at the all-new time of 7:30pm Tuesdays, upgrading after doing so well the previous year on Saturday nights. It only lasted three weeks before it was back on Saturdays, but at least they tried. And everybody knew that 7:30pm Saturdays was their time-slot. Their place on Australian televisions was official. For a while.
Eventually the show was pulled for a random number of months, and over the next few years the show would return occasionally for brief moments, which made continuation hell on earth for those who were trying to follow. It wasn’t until my 21st birthday in 2006 that they aired the last episode to air for an unceremoniously long time. It was the end of the world. Seven episodes into season 5 and bam. Vanished. Gone for repeats, I recall with a shudder, of a prime-time Aussie show named The Alice. That’s right. For repeats. To add insult to injury, the show was about as interesting as a blunt pencil. (I believe it was around this time I developed an eye-twitch in my right eye which continues to this day.)
But to my surprise a few months later, salvation came in the form of the release of the DVD’s. Seasons 1 and 2 were glorious, beautiful in case design, even if they did sport a giant yellow PG square which covered half the front. I engulfed seasons 1-4 in big, glorious chunks, finally cottoning on to details I’d missed the first time due to lack of continuation. August of that same year, season 5 was somehow released… wait, what!?… before it was aired on TV. Seriously, for 2006 in Australia, this was unprecedented. It was a well-known fact that Channel 9, the juggernaut of Aussie TV at the time, liked to buy up anything it possibly could, even if they had no intention on airing it. This abstinence also regarded DVD releases. If it hadn’t aired on TV, it couldn’t be released on DVD. Somehow, and thank God, it had changed since then.
I eventually got the season 6 DVD and devoured it too (and hated it; more later). By then I just downloaded season 7 in poor quality and hated it almost as much as season 6.
For many years after, I thought of the show fondly, remembering moments here and there, and occasionally popped in the DVD’s to watch at my leisure. But as the next decade emerged, I began losing interest in the DVD’s. After all, they were in 4:3 (despite most of the show being shot in 16:9) and the picture quality was pretty average. We were now in the era of high definition television! I moved on to another Amy Sherman production, Roseanne, in 2011 and by 2013 I realised I hadn’t watch an episode of my Gilmore gals in years.
Then the year of 2014 appeared, and with it came a special place. A wonderful, magical place my teenage self would have considered heaven. It was a place called Netflix. With it came, later in the year, an old favourite. Gilmore Girls! Every episode ever, dropped all at once. At first I didn’t really want to watch it. I’d tried now and again over the years to watch it from the beginning, and would get up to the Donna Reed episode before bailing.
But then to my surprise and delight, it said all seasons were in high definition. How could this be? my inner Lorelai asked with mock dismay. It was not shot in high definition. But it turns out, it had been. And it was something I’d only recently learned about — by some miracle, many shows and movies from the past eighty years had been shot on a film that was made of far superior quality than the machines on which they were displayed were capable of presenting. Gone with the Wind and The Wizard of Oz, both released in 1939, are the perfect examples of this. Since around 2005, using the original film source, technology allowed them to upgrade the quality to actual high definition. Having the characters bathed in unnatural light, seeped colours blending into uninvited areas, and particles of dust and hair catching in the corners — these were all a thing of the past. The quality had been there all along. The world of the 21st Century was very slowly updating everything to digital. Now you could count the number of eyelashes on Scarlett O’Hara’s cheek. You could finally notice the fine hemp lining of the Scarecrow’s face sack. It was, to those not accustomed to such fine technical jargon, a bloody miracle. Surely this time-consuming effort wouldn’t be put into upgrading television shows, right? Wrong. I’d recently seen an episode of Seinfeld in high definition and had to google what the hell was going on. Was I having a seizure? A flashback to ‘Nam? No. Seinfeld and, thank the Lord, Friends, were luckily both filmed on… well, film… instead of just tape like so many other programs. And Gilmore Girls was thankfully given the same fate. So, it was upgraded. And upon watching it for the first time on Netflix, I jumped for joy, but also started watching it hungrily, noticing new things. Thanks to the high definition upgrade and being older/wiser, it was like a whole new show.
IT WAS LIKE A WHOLE NEW SHOW.
I admit, I didn’t know a great deal by the age of 22 when the show ended in 2007. But by 2014, my knowledge of pop culture and other ventures had soared into the stratosphere, compared. “Hey! There’s David Eggers! I’m reading that book right now! Hey, that’s a possibly offensive reference to the movie Nell! I don’t care because it’s hilarious! Hey, Sookie lives in James Dean’s house from East of Eden. Oh gosh look, a famous person before they were famous. Oh look, another one. Oh my God, the books! The references! In Tara! It’s outstanding!” I was now the age Lorelai had been at the start of the series. I could relate to her now more than Rory. It was a game-changer.
Outside of my own bubble, the show was catching on to a whole new audience. It became one of the biggest shows in the world in 2015. So much so, they announced a revival. I’d smelled this coming a mile away. And it was… well, that’s for later.
But this reintroduction to one of my favourite shows growing up has now permanently etched Gilmore Girls into my psyche for the rest of my life. With the connectivity of the internet, I’ve managed to chat rather casually to quite a number of the cast. Next year I’ll be visiting the Warner Brothers backlot so I’ll even get to walk the streets of Stars Hollow. Gilmore Girls was there for me during the hard times, and the good. Always in the corners of my mind, ready to pounce to my defence. And, isn’t it a strange world we live in? Because I consider these characters my dear friends. A show I turned to for comfort, a place to call home. I even wrote a song about it, an ‘Ode to Gilmore’.
The revival was, of course, bigger than Christmas for me. I took the day off work, made sure my Luke’s Diner T-shirt had arrived on time, went and ordered pizzas an hour before the drop (7:30pm in Australia), and waited eagerly. While I’m not crash hot on it and have many opinions on it, in the end it was the perfect ending for the show and mentally it was amazingly cathartic. I was almost in the exact same place in life as Rory Gilmore, although with much higher standards of morals, and I watched it end the way it did with a thousand thoughts racing through my mind, my heart pounding. It was the real-life aspect of the show that gutted me the most. There they sat, Lorelai, Rory, and the famous gazebo. On the precipice of a game-changer. Surrounded by this place, this town, which had brought us so many wondrously happy moments. But at the end of the day, we realised collectively, it was all in the past. This was real-life, and happiness is fleeting. We took the moment, wanting to remember it all. And with that end, I’m happy. If it continues one day, so be it, but if it doesn’t, at least it got the ending it deserved. We deserved. I deserved.
THE THREE P’S:
In the year 2000, we meet Lorelai Gilmore. She is a vivacious, coffee-dependent 32-year-old woman who lives in a small town called Stars Hollow, Connecticut. She is fresh faced, energetic, full of the joys of life. Is that all there is to her, a vapid pretty face with no brains that gets by on her ability to mould and shape men like putty in her hands? Hell to the no. Not only is this young woman a working single mother, but she is a working single mother to a sixteen-year-old. This lookalike daughter is Rory Gilmore. Yes, she is the same age Lorelai was when she had her. Yes, people mistake them for sisters. And yes, you bet your ass Lorelai is afraid Rory will fall pregnant.
Despite this ridiculous fear, Rory is cherubic and innocent and radiant and deeply protected by everybody in her life, a protection which eventually causes her downfall by way of exposure to the elements if you will.
While Lorelai acts jovial and free-spirited, Rory is luckily an easy child to handle. She acts more sensible than her own mother, and is in a lot of ways the more mature of the two. Or so it seems. Rory’s obsession with books means she is excellent in school, and Lorelai feels like she’s wasting her days studying at that good-for-nothing public school a few blocks away from their house, Stars Hollow High.
And then comes the letter.
Lorelai is ecstatic to learn that one of the private schools she enrolled Rory in has accepted her. But upon further research, she discovers the school is expensive. More expensive than she initially thought. Too expensive for her to pay for on her own. So, she does something she never thought she’d have to do.
She has to go to her parents and ask for money.
Asking people for money is always cringe-worthy, but for Lorelai it’s ten times worse. And here is where the series really kicks it into high gear. Lorelai has been estranged from her parents ever since she left home when Rory was little. She packed her things, along with Rory, from nearby Hartford and moved to Stars Hollow, where she worked as a maid at an inn until she managed to work her way up. Now she’s a manager. But she did it all without the help of her parents.
Her very, very rich parents.
Who pride themselves on appearance.
As you can deduce, teenage pregnancy and dropping out of high school does not bode well in their social circles.
Finding their 32-year-old daughter at the door, patriarch Richard Gilmore and the ultra-dimensional Emily Gilmore are surprised but not surprised that Lorelai is only there for money. However, they happily grant her the lending of this gigantic sum. After all, despite the hardships of being a bastard child, Rory is their pride and joy. More-so than Lorelai, it would seem.
“But hold on,” says Emily, eyeing her only daughter deviously. “We can’t just give you the money. In exchange, you and Rory have to come here every Friday night and have dinner with us. No exceptions.”
Furious but in a bind, Lorelai begrudgingly agrees. Thus the fabulously frenzied ‘Friday Night Dinners’ is created.
Well, Lorelai keeps the money thing a secret from Rory, and in turn Rory keeps a secret from her. To Lorelai’s surprise, Rory says “nah, pass” to changing schools. Stars Hollow High is, in her opinion, better than Hartford’s renowned Chilton Academy. Flabbergasted, Lorelai and Rory get into their first argument of the series and the whole thing turns around on its head. Lorelai isn’t immature, and Rory isn’t the wise head of the household we are initially led to believe. Rory’s got a crush on the new guy in town, and because of a promising romance she wants to throw away her chances at private tuition in order to keep going to school with him. Lorelai asserts her authority, but not before uttering a pivotal line: “This is about a boy. Of course! That should have been my first thought. After all, you’re me!” It’s essentially the show in a nutshell, folks. But let’s give credit to the famous follow up: “Does he have a motorcycle? If you’re going to throw your life away, he better have a motorcycle!”
Despite Lorelai’s mildly crazy-cat-lady moment, she means business. Rory is going to Chilton and it’s the end of the discussion.
Things remain heated between the two and despite Lorelai’s valiant efforts to get to Rory’s level to try and warm her up, Rory shuts her out, choosing to sulk instead. But there’s a tasty bit of information missing in her mother’s side to the Chilton story, and it takes Lorelai and Rory’s first Friday Night Dinner for it to inadvertently come out.
Between courses, Richard and Emily can’t help but still point out what a failure Lorelai turned out to be, despite the fact Lorelai is very successful in all aspects of her life. Emily confronts Lorelai in the kitchen, where every frustration underlying their family dynamic is brutally exposed in an explosive argument. Rory overhears how they’re helping to pay for Chilton, and realising the huge sacrifice her own mother is making, she swallows her pride and accepts her fate.
Firstly, Lauren Graham is the absolute star of this show. In fact, it is a truth universally acknowledged that her complete and total snub from the Emmy Awards is the biggest atrocity in the history of mankind. The lack of regard for one of the best comedic and dramatic performances of the last twenty years is completely unforgivable. Same goes for Kelly Bishop, too. These two go off like dynamite when they’re together, and it’s palpable even to casual viewers.
However, the Emmys didn’t seem to go for this show at all, except for that one time when it won for Outstanding Make-Up For A Series. Random. But this one win made the lack of other nominations stand out more. In fact, it thus proved that the show was in their peripherals. They either didn’t think it was worthy of anything, or they were embarrassed to regard a WB show as top-tier programming.
In the past year, Amy Sherman-Palladino has gone on to win numerous Emmys for her new show, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and although the show is stylish and good to look at, it’s not quite the broad stroke that Gilmore Girls was. However, I’m happy for its success. But I do think it speaks volumes about the Television Academy.
I mean, the scripts. The weekly scripts for Gilmore Girls varied drastically from the standards. On a regular show, one page equals one minute, so for an hour-long drama you’d get about 45 pages. However, the Gilmore girls spoke so quickly and their scripts were absolutely jam-packed, so one page was equal to about 20-25 seconds. Just think about that. And think about how exhausting that would be for the actors involved. Now look back on the long-shot moments in the series and how perfectly everything went together. The mind boggles. Yet, no credit. No awards. Nothing. Such a shame.
Amy Sherman-Palladino worked very hard with her husband/co-producer Daniel Palladino to make this show what it was. They made the most out of their resources. But they were the backbone to the series just as much as Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel were. Without them, the comedy elements wouldn’t have been there. And that’s because Amy had previous worked as a staff writer on the widely popular Roseanne in the early nineties. Yes, she was on that notorious team. So she’s a pretty funny gal. She had cred, even an Emmy nom for the writing (what the hell, Emmys!?). But what was her next move?
One day, inspiration called. She visited a quaint Connecticut town called Washington Depot. Astonished by its fairytale perfection, she drew inspiration from its small-town camaraderie and soon after wrote the pilot for Gilmore Girls, which was originally simply pitched as “a mother and daughter show where they act more like sisters”.
But without actors, a writer’s words mean nothing. And the ensemble (has there ever been a word more suiting) is the stuff dreams are made of. Every guest actor is a star-in-the-making, a unique soul who brings their own take to the character written down on the pages:
— No doubt Lorelai was a half-baked concoction before Lauren Graham brought her own quirks to it, and of course it’s now considered one of the greatest TV characters of all-time.
— Alexis Bledel’s lack of acting background is clearly utilised with the Yearling look they were going for in the first season. But becoming the star of a hit show and the confidence boost it would surely bring, she and her character Rory manage to come out of their shells as the series progresses.
— Kelly Bishop lets her hair down the longer the show goes on, figuratively and literally, whilst still managing to maintain her menacing and judgmental naïvety as the show’s most complex character.
— Liza Weil starts out as clichéd overachiever Paris Geller, enemy to Rory. But just like Emily, she reaches a breaking point and becomes more open to human relationships, and Weil nails it. She can go from innocent teenager to frightful authoritarian with a dead-eyed look that could kill. In the revival, she’s particularly excellent.
—Melissa McCarthy is mindblowing in this series. She manages to portray sweet and sensitive to perfection, clumsiest kitchen-hand since Chef Louis. They say she’s second fiddle to Lorelai, but the comedic wonder that we know and love her for is well on show, and she’s easily one of the most grounded ‘funny’ characters in the series. I personally think she has never been better than here as Sookie St. James. She will always be Sookie to me, and look no further than her wonderfully whacky wordings and random run-abouts with Jackson to find out why it’s her pièce de résistance. Sadly I don’t think she would quite agree with me on that.
— Sally Struthers from All In The Family fame is downright hilarious as Babette. It’s funny because considering her most famous role was as the mediator of the group, she sure does sport a crazy funny bone. She often brings about laugh-out-loud moments as the short and outspoken next-door neighbour to Lorelai and Rory. Simply by shouting in her broken voice: “Morey! I’m comin’ in!”, or running onto the scene by clutching at her bosoms to keep them still, even conversing heartily about the other Stars Hollow gossiper known as ‘Eastside Tilly’… She is an absolute hoot. This is a character who has been in a cult. There are many more unforgettable side characters in this fictional town, but she is truly my spirit animal, and the reigning Queen of Stars Hollow.
Another positive of the series is the use of the backlot in Burbank. It’s used for Stars Hollow, as well as a few New York City scenes.
If you watch the show and find these locations familiar, there’s a reason for that. This backlot is like the prostitute of sets. Everyone’s been in them. There are countless films and television shows featuring the town of Stars Hollow and its surrounding streets. Pretty Little Liars, The Dukes of Hazzard, Funny Girl, Rebel Without A Cause, A Little Princess, Casablanca, Annie, Gremlins, Seinfeld, Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, True Blood, Jurassic Park, Bonnie & Clyde, The Artist, E.R… Depending on how familiar you are with the landscape of Stars Hollow, it’s quite easy to see.
La-La Land is maybe the frontrunner for most-obviously-Stars-Hollow because of how it’s literally set on a film set. You can see Luke’s Diner and the gazebo nearby, and they haven’t even tried to disguise it. Other than that, I find in East of Eden it’s most recognisable. During a festival for the troops you can see the church steeple.
One thing that blew my mind years ago was finding out that the back of Lorelai’s house is the front of Sookie’s house! So if you go inside, you come out onto the street opposite. And even more exciting, Sookie’s house scenes were actually shot in the house, just like when they shot the birthday scene in East of Eden. You can even compare the living rooms. Same windows, hallway, doorframe, lights. Amazing! Fifty years apart. And James Dean, too.
Side note: This is also the house where Monica and Ross grew up in Friends. The staircase and door are indeed where Ross in a tux watches Rachel leave with Chip for the Prom. Sad face. This hallway also features the Lane House staircase and their sitting room, so it’s interesting that on one side of the staircase is Sookie’s living room, and the other is Lane’s. Ah, the magic of the Warner Bros. backlot.
For its original run, the show was looked upon as simply a teen-aimed drama series. Sweet and sugary, roll-your-eyes, warm-mug-in-winter fun with not much substance. At least, that’s the reputation it had. Still, it was being listed in top 100 shows of all time, and this is no ordinary feat. Part of what makes the show so wonderful and long-lasting is its comedic side, and it wasn’t until recent years that it was labelled more as a comedy series. When you look at other comedy series like Sex and the City, Desperate Housewives, Barry, etc. there’s something they have in common with Gilmore Girls: they play serious. They have many, many serious moments. In fact, the strength in any comedy series is when it’s able to play a dramatic moment. Vice-versa, too.
The vitality of wit is astounding in this show, too. Sometimes it’ll hand out a reference that I have to look up (the Metallica and Offspring argument tickles me pink), or even something so random I do get it, and it makes me feel special inside like I’m sharing a secret joke with them. While the show is set in the real-world, on occasion it does transcend the norm. Miss. Celine and Drella being portrayed by the same person, as we mentioned before, which is an inn-joke (get it?). The same with Marion Ross ageing up to play Richard’s mother Trix, and then playing Richard’s much more age-appropriate kleptomaniac cousin Marilyn at Trix’s funeral.
But the real comedy of the series mainly comes from Stars Hollow, which is never looked down upon as a lesser version of Hartford. It’s like stepping into the Mad Hatter’s tea party. It started off slow in season 1. After all, it’s a real town set in the real world. But the more it developed, the more the town moulded into its own groove and eventually settled on being the odd place we’ve come to love. Which isn’t to the show or the town’s detriment, mind you. It never pulls you out of the situation. It just makes you go: “Wow, these townsfolk are very weird”. Lorelai and Rory have lived there long enough that they just go with it, but surely in the beginning they would have had normal human reactions to the absurdity.
Town Mayor Taylor Doose, whom I originally found most irritating, plays perfectly against Luke’s gruff and fed-up personality. (He’s lived there even longer than Lorelai and Rory. He’s beyond simply rolling with it.) He and Taylor are like The Odd Couple, arguing about town traffic lights, windows peering into certain spaces, apartments for rent, sewerage systems being put in, you name it. The town meetings, officiated by Taylor of course, are a great setting for long periods of chat, always leaning towards the absurd. Sometimes they delve into the private lives of certain residents, but most of the time they stick to concerns that may affect the town as a whole. Making people wear pink ribbons for Lorelai and blue ribbons for Luke after their break-up, for instance, is perhaps bordering on the unhinged, but it was quickly snuffed out by Rory if memory serves. (Poor Lulu is practically assaulted by Kirk when she doesn’t want to give up her pretty ribbon — ease up, Kirk!)
Ah yes, we’ll have to mention Kirk Gleason. He’s the oddest oddball on this side of the Atlantic. As someone who started out as Mike, is then sexually harassed by Miss. Patty over a plum, and subsequently gets name amnesia, it’s easy to see why he’s as eccentric as he is. And given how eccentric Stars Hollow is, this is a tremendous call to make.
Firstly, there are his jobs. He’s had a million. He set up DSL’s in homes. He delivers swans for weddings. He was a maze guard, walking on stilts to help guide those lost within the town’s hay bale maze (say ten times quickly). He was an inappropriate physical therapist. A wrapping paper salesman. Flyer distributor, dressed as a giant hot dog. He was the sole proprietor of ‘Kirk’s’, an outside diner just across the road from ‘Luke’s’. He was also a termite inspector, where four crawled up his nose. Let’s not forget his horrendous turn as a pizza delivery man, which hospitalised him with cheese burns to his hands and feet. He was a movie theatre attendant, where he mostly made out with girlfriend Lulu. He failed at Wedding Photography for understandable reasons (“Kirk, you’re nude!"). Security Alarm Installer, until electrocution. Mailbox salesmen, featuring a one-of-a-kind Condoleezza Rice. Of course, there was the time he was a salesman for ‘Hay There!’ Skincare (“One day it occurred to me: Cows never wrinkle.”) Easter Egg Hunt Planner (he hid them too well — the town stunk, etc.). Struggling Pedicab driver. Filmmaker. Easter Egg Hunt Finder. He was a female prostitute in a town reenactment. A skydiver. And, believe it or not, there’s quite a few more. These strange jobs offer a variety of wonderful opportunities for actor Sean Gunn, and to his credit he plays with his material perfectly. However, his magnum opus moment comes when Kirk adopts a cat. He names it Cat Kirk, which he doesn’t think will be confusing. Turns out, Cat Kirk is possibly a serial killer.
Another great part of the show is when the town has festivals and events. From street weddings, to bonfires, Snowman competitions, Soda Shoppe opening extravaganzas, the Bid On A Basket, the Knit-a-thon, and the most elaborate of all: The 24-hour dance marathon. They are great centrepieces for all the local characters to come together and have crazy interactions.
Obviously from the get-go, the network was a big problem. It’s common-knowledge that they worked long and gruelling hours each and every day on this show, and the network demanded 22 whopping episodes each season. Considering the content they punched out, it’s frankly amazing. Team effort. These kinds of working conditions aren’t ideal, and I can’t imagine it would have been particularly fun to work on this show. I can’t help but imagine this every time there’s a scene with a lot of specific dialogue. Even though it’s done and dusted now, and having the show on a channel like the WB also allowed it to go for seven seasons, it’s still a problem in my opinion.
The network also poked and prodded it in places where it wasn’t welcome. Obviously, swearing was out of the question. But their desire to be strictly family friendly was often rebelled against by the creators. The network also goes against this ideal when in season four they prompted a same-sex kiss in order to boost the ratings — these new out-there crazy same-sex kisses were, at the time, highly in vogue after showing in The OC and Dawson’s Creek. These examples brought in the viewers, so the WB made like Todd Flanders and said: “Go with it!” (It wasn’t even worth mentioning, by the way. Gays are not a sideshow!)
For some reason, perhaps due to payments or change in their personal lives, season six brought with it the worst episodes in the show’s run. Rory has been released from jail, quit college, and is living with the grandparents, ultimately becoming Lorelai 2.0. She is in such a downward slump that she has no motivation left.
To be honest, when I first saw this season, I’d just been through almost exactly what Rory was going through, and it freaked me out because it wasn’t the first time her life mirrored mine at the exact same time (and wouldn’t be the last). Anyway, Lorelai and Rory don’t talk for half the season so it made for very, very unpleasant viewing. Unfortunately, this isolation broke the Hollywood magic that was entwined within the show’s DNA. The rest of season six slipped into uncanny valley. Same setting, same show, but something was off. The girls were always refreshed looking, hair recently styled as if heading to a glitzy summer photoshoot. The lighting in the rooms looked like it was on a set, much like how 7th Heaven eventually went down the drain and didn’t bother with anymore daytime scenes. The only time things looked normal was during Stars Hollow outdoor scenes, but even they were giving an unenthused performance.
When season seven came along and Amy & Dan were fired, the duo gave the newly formed CW network the big middle finger by having Lorelai sleep with Rory’s father Christopher, ultimately ending the Luke & Lorelai relationship. Oh, but the CW had other plans up its sleeve.
David S. Rosenthal took over as show-runner. There were no more scripts written by the Palladino duo. Dawn Ostroff, head of the network, was picking apart the show piece by piece. All one has to do is look up the promo photographs for this final season to understand where I’m coming from with these accusations. She’d clearly never watched the show, or at least very closely. Where the original promos were all about the warmth of Stars Hollow and the mother-daughter duo, season seven was all about their men, and look how green everything is, as well as their glam, rich lifestyle where they talk about boys and visits to the mall to find the latest shoes on sale!
Here’s to hoping Ostroff is no longer messing with other people’s work.
The Logan Influence
Sigh. Hear me out. First time watching it, I hated Logan from the beginning. He was an entitled jerk who strutted around Yale like he owned the joint. And he made fun of Marty the naked guy. That should have been Rory’s next boyfriend! But no, she fell for the rich guy instead. And just like that, Logan brought out the bad in her.
As an adult, second time around on Netflix and as a twenty-nine old, I came to recognise his influence on Rory as positive. Despite the fact I still don’t like him and his godawful loser friends (DO NOT GET ME STARTED; AMY WHY DID YOU WASTE PRECIOUS REVIVAL TIME ON THESE GROSS RICH SHUTTERCOCKS), I see now that he brought out the ugly side that was in her all along. He brought out her grandparents, and her father. She fell for the lifestyle. Which didn’t make her a bad person or a mean person; she was still Rory Gilmore, but it brought a whole other discussion to the table: Who is Rory Gilmore as an independent adult? Living out of home, she leant against Logan as a partner, even though he showed time and again that he wasn’t dependable. He did his bad things, his obnoxious things, lots of things that, if Jess or Dean had done, would have ended the relationship immediately. When you have that much money from a young age, you’re going to rebel. Purely because you know you can get away with it. But for Rory, having grown up on the outskirts of Mula City, she was more humble in its presence.
And then she wasn’t. What brought this about was a flaw in her upbringing, and unfortunately the perfect blend of self-doubt and outsider influence. ‘Hey, let’s steal a boat, it’ll be fun!’ insists Logan, knowing perfectly well that he’s immune to any consequences. Rory has just been devastated by Logan’s father Mitchum, brutally telling her she hasn’t got what it takes to become a reporter. While he’s simply telling her the truth, she takes it poorly. It results in her quick downfall. She is arrested and ordered to three-hundred hours of community service. Thanks, Huntzbergers.
Again, perhaps Rory’s future may have been a little more trite if she’d never met Logan. Perhaps she would have dated Marty and graduated with flying colours and ended up exactly where she was in the 2016 revival. But Logan’s presence adds a smarminess to the scene that is indeed great character building from Amy & Dan’s writing stand-point, but entertainment wise it turned the show and one of its main characters into something completely foreign. Rory was living in rich apartments, only spending time with rich people and breezing by as an intern. This was the first time the show veered Rory completely away from Stars Hollow, and it’s something that stayed even throughout the revival. She loves Stars Hollow, but she looks down upon it. She’s ‘not back’ in 2016 because she thinks she is better than the town that helped raise her. Yet throughout all her stresses and being, honestly, a loser, she fails to see how happy everybody is around her.
Perhaps it was Logan’s fault that Rory ended up the way she ended up, perhaps it wasn’t. Needless to say, he’s still somehow causing trouble for her even into her early-thirties.
I’m not the only one who was totally repulsed that Rory & Logan were hooking up in London. Not only that, but Logan was engaged to a French heiress named Odette at the time. Meaning that both Rory and Logan were cheating quite casually, and without any remorse whatsoever for their significant others! It harks back to when Rory lost her virginity to Dean, where she learnt the hard way that sleeping with another woman’s husbands was a big no-no. Nor was living off nostalgia just because your life wasn’t doing so great in the moment (a lesson the whole world needs to learn in 2019). But in the revival, that lesson Lorelai drilled into Rory’s head has gone with the wind! Logan is still a smarmy, entitled jerk with the same douchebag friends, The Lost Boys, and Rory is still holding on to him. Why? What purpose does he bring to her life?
Logan’s presence has always been unwanted by most fans. I don’t know if Amy Sherman-Palladino thought she was channeling Donna Tartt with those secret college societies and their ‘whimsical adventures’, but it was a smell worth snubbing. If we wanted to watch self-entitled pricks ruining the world with their arrogance and greed, we’d turn over to the news.
— April Nardini is another frustration I think we all share. I won’t go into the details because a mere google search will elicit the terrifying fandom of hatred for this character and the poor tween girl who blindly chose to star in one of her favourite shows at the time. Sorry, Vanessa Marano, it’s not you or your half-lisp. It’s me. Why bring her in? What purpose did it serve? A fork in Luke and Lorelai’s relationship, right? Yeah, got it. So… still, why? Go away! And go away with casting Sherilyn Fenn as her hostile mother when you already cast her as Jess’s step-mother in season three. None of that, thank you.
It would be remiss of me not to mention the downside to the revival. The extended length was not doing any favours. The original show relied on its fast wit in order to fit everything into its allotted 42 minute time-slot. It was magic! Here, conversations are slow and drawn out. They talk fast, but it’s a self-referential nod most of the time, and it’s like they’re trying to impersonate themselves fifteen years earlier.
The Musical was the most boring and unnecessarily long piece of garbage I’ve ever seen. I actually can’t believe nobody said during the production: “Hey guys, we need to cut some of this for time. Maybe all of it. Add some more Lane.” It goes on… and on… and on… I’m not crash hot on broadway music to begin with, so the music was a pain in my royal ass. The subject matter was comical, but again too try-hard. They just weren’t channeling the series.
Sookie’s return was great, but I was praying before she appeared that Melissa McCarthy would channel her innocent girly voice again. Instead we got McCarthy’s regular (I’m assuming) smoker’s rasp and strange Illinois country accent which wasn’t what original run Sookie sounded like at all. It was like a pod-person. And while we’re on the subject of her not-returning and then finally returning… How awkward was all of that? She obviously didn’t want to do it, but there was too much of an outcry, so her agents convinced her to just swallow her pride and do one day of shooting. We get it, Melissa, you’re super famous now and you’re not the star of this. But come on. Channel freakin’ Sookie. To her credit, that was a lot of material to learn so at least she did it proud, and as a send-off to our favourite female chef I’m glad it happened… because that excuse for her being away was terrible writing. Why didn’t they just make a delightfully funny running gag that she’s always just out of the room? Would save them all soooo much effort in making up excuses. Sookie wouldn’t leave her family for a year and a half. That’s bull. It was rubbish and glaring. Wasn’t Luke’s sister Liz living in Luke’s apartment after her run-in with the cult? You never saw her but she was there. They should’ve done the same! Then with the one scene McCarthy could fit in, she could have just walked in mid-scene and then walked out towards the end as if it were no big deal. Hilarious!
Anyway, what’s done is done.
The other thing I didn’t like in the revival was Logan’s friends. Yes, I’ve said it again and again. But time restraints called for more Stars Hollow time and after the musical debacle, I couldn’t believe when they brought back Logan’s friends for a whacky adventure in the night. What the hell was that!? As college students, it’s barely acceptable. But being in your early thirties and vandalising a small-town is creepy. Away with ye all.
It’s hard to believe this, but I ended up disassociating from Rory throughout the revival. My opinions on her petered out as season seven continued, but it wasn’t until she became a full-blown nomad that I realised I was done with her. She’s got ‘no job, no credit, no clean underwear!’ But despite my distaste, spooky parallels to my own life were appearing once more. I wasn’t in the place I wanted to be in 2016. I was 32 and stuck, wandering through my days aimlessly. Despite the fact I did have a job, a car, and clean underwear, I was now convinced. Amy Sherman-Palladino was stalking me.
But the story breaks away from my own life by giving Rory a sign. And knowing Rory’s inability to cotton on, the universe well and truly shoves it down her throat, where it latches onto her stomach lining for good measure. Here’s a branch, it calls to her. Just as it was with Lorelai all those years ago, amidst a craving for fruit and vegetables.
Full circle, am I right?
THE GILMORE GIRLS CHARACTER ANALYSIS:
The mother-daughter relationships in this series are where it’s at its most complex. The show is called Gilmore Girls, and it took me years to realise that there were in fact three main Gilmore girls. Lorelai, Rory, and Emily. (Four if you count Trix, as she is another Gilmore) The show is about mothers and daughters. But for every positive parenting moment Lorelai has, Emily serves up a dish best served cold.
Lorelai & Rory:
While Lorelai is indeed too young by most standards to be the mother to a sixteen-year-old, when you take a step back and look at what she’s had to overcome, it’s tremendous. She has done everything for that kid. She left her rather luxurious lifestyle in Hartford in order to live in a shed behind an Inn, with a toddler in tow. Working assumedly nine-to-five, it remains a mystery how she managed it without caving in. In a way it reminds me of Rose from Titanic. She always had this plethora of wealth sitting in her pocket, but not once in her life did she take it out and use it to her advantage. As Lorelai’s grandmother “Trix” once said, the Gilmore women are very strong-willed.
Aside from surviving the way she did, it’s even more impressive when you think of how joyful she managed to remain during the hard times. She is always upbeat and cute to people, but it’s a choice. Not quite a face put on to mask the pain, but she smiles and acts playful with everybody in her life because she wants people to see her that way. And she is happy in these moments, but when things turn serious it’s a sight to behold. The mask is removed and the 32-year-old long-suffering woman appears, frown-line between her eyebrows showing up and ready to sort things out. It’s a testament to how incredibly on the ball Trix was. Lorelai isn’t just strong-willed, she’s the strongest of all of them.
Rory, on the other hand, is the least strong-willed Gilmore. It took me until the final episode of the revival to realise that she has grown up to be more like her father Christopher than Lorelai.
Whilst Emily was hard on Lorelai because the only parenting tactic she knew was to instill fear, Lorelai has in fact done the opposite. It’s all support, and unfortunately in Rory’s case it might have worked out better if Emily and Lorelai’s parenting choices were reversed. By the end of the series, Rory has dropped out of college and been arrested. By the end of the revival, she is a vagabond (Emily’s words), wondering around aimlessly. Whilst in the series she depended on school and academia in general to fill her life with meaning, now she is in her thirties and doesn’t have that to fall back on. Richard, Emily, Luke, and basically ninety-nine percent of the main characters in the show treat Rory like she is a Disney Princess, incapable of error. In doing so they have put it into her head that she can’t do anything wrong. So when she does, or when she’s not quite right for a role outside of college, she loses her legging just like a certain other famous fawn. Lorelai is the only one in the whole series, besides from Mitchum Huntzberger, who tells Rory when she’s not doing something right. And really, Rory is the perfect example of how a teenager shouldn’t get by. It’s a terrific juxtaposition in success stories from one Gilmore to the other. And they should honestly teach this in schools. Whilst Rory went to Chilton and studied hard and managed to get into Yale, it all but engulfed her life. She did manage to maintain boyfriends throughout, some better than others, but her main purpose was to succeed in her academics. But then after college… what? Apparently it festered for a while and then turned into nothingness. A perfect example of how college is not the most important thing in life. It can be, but as somebody like Lorelai points out by way of her character, success is what you take out of a situation. She didn’t go to college, but now she owns an Inn and is her own boss. Sure, that’s not Rory’s style, but she’s always been put high up on this pedestal of perfection from a young age that cannot be continued in the real world. Lorelai, as grounded and wonderful as she was as a parent, unfortunately failed in communicating this to Rory during her formative years. However, this isn’t to say Lorelai failed as a parent. When it comes down to it, she’s terrific. (She didn’t turn into Marie Barone, for starters.)
Rory ends up going the way of Christopher, and this is shown perfectly in one of the last scenes of the revival when estranged father and daughter have an awkward meeting. She is certainly his daughter. Her lack of ability to settle, her insistence that she’s ‘not back’ in Stars Hollow, and even her absurdly tasteless relationship with a lovely chap named Paul, who she cheats on left right and centre. She even has an affair with a certain engaged man that I will not go into further here… because my twitching eye… may… burst… a… vein… Gone are the days where Lorelai would raise her concerns about having an affair with a married man. Lord knows it happened once during the original run. Maybe now that Rory’s grown, she figures it’s her life, let her live it. But still… parenting doesn’t stop when your kid turns eighteen.
Which leads us to…
Emily & Lorelai:
This is a juggernaut of tormented thoughts and opinions from me. What can one say about this rocky relationship? Emily just never quite got Lorelai. Even as a baby, she would point out to her only daughter what an unusually large head she had. (LORELAI: “In fact, my first words were: Big Head want dolly.”) As someone raised with money and who married straight out of college, Emily was brought up the right way and expected the same when raising her own child. The ideals of the fifties are clearly still an influence to her, as she goes to women’s luncheons and has festive galas, and devotes a lot of her time to being Mrs. Richard Gilmore, graduate of Yale University. And it’s shown perfectly when she learns of her teenage daughter’s pregnancy. In fact, much like the ideals of the fifties, it remains an influence to her attitude towards Lorelai. It doesn’t take a Nobel prize winner to see how disappointed Emily & Richard are with her life choices, and it goes beyond socially shaming the family. There’s a deeper cut. (Shown perfectly in a heartbreaking scene where Lorelai graduates from her course, and as she accepts her diploma she turns to see Emily & Richard in the audience crying.) Despite Emily’s ongoing lack of communication, she does love her daughter and their shared disappointment in her really comes down to a mutual sadness at the waste of potential. Perhaps they were envisaging Lorelai as a potential First Lady, or President, or manager of a very exclusive garden club in Hartford. Live the best life, marry Christopher straight out of college, have a child… Oh wait, nearly all of that came too early. But no, Lorelai refused to marry Christopher, and this was likely as low a blow to her ideals as striking a lighted match and smoking in the gas chambers during an Auschwitz tour.
Little is known about Emily’s other kin, aside from having a sister who lives in France. It’s assumed then that she is not very close with her original immediate family, and perhaps similar conflicts existed. There’s no doubt that in many, many ways Emily’s parenting techniques behind closed doors were eyebrow raising at best. Her pride is mighty but her opinion is rock-steady, and unfortunately when you have a child who is gifted with the same two traits, things are bound to become restless if you don’t agree on the basics. And that’s what happened here. Lorelai, for all of her barely sixteen years of age, saw the bigger picture. Beyond Hartford’s elite, the money. She saw a future, and it wasn’t one she wanted. It was being forced upon her by the low-hanging clouds of expectations. A lesser woman would not have managed an escape, but Lorelai saw the conception of Rory as a sign from the universe: Here’s a branch.
Emily’s loudness and villainous exterior comes from a life of getting everything she ever wanted, but finding it all to be imperfect. I bet you anything she suffers from misophonia. Ironically, her lack of manners and etiquette towards the maids (a running gag in the series) certainly shows what a total farce much of her life has become. In many ways she likely resents Lorelai for living her own life, away from the leisure of wealth, managing to succeed without the fundamentals like Emily was brought up being told were an absolute necessity. Things were out of line, and Lorelai was rocking the boat, and she didn’t like it.
Now on the other hand, and this is where things get really messy, Lorelai is not the wonderful angel I’ve perhaps painted her out to be in the above paragraphs. Needless to say, she was a little overboard in her tactics to succeed away from her parents. Yes, they were smothering, but cutting them out entirely is a very cruel thing to do to the two people who raised you and gave you everything. Unless they were physically or mentally abusive, which we can assume they were not, taking such a route as to become estranged seems rather harsh to me. Throughout the series Lorelai is constantly getting annoyed when her parents even dare feature in her life, which says plenty about her own problems more than it does theirs. Do Emily and Richard deserve to be looked down upon by the one person they loved the most? Certainly Emily is a hard person to deal with on a daily basis, but despite her ability to go it alone, Lorelai certainly has a deep-seated resentment towards them, bordering on a strange hate that reminds me of the son in We Need To Talk About Kevin. It comes across at times as childish and shockingly cold. Especially being a mother herself, I would have liked to see a bit more understanding on her part. Emily has a story arc as the show goes on, where Rory teaches her to ease up and have a little fun around Lorelai. But Lorelai doesn’t bend in response at all. Particularly in the revival you really see what a total and intrinsic mess their relationship is. They’re not mother and daughter, they’re acquaintances. And in most part it’s down to Lorelai. But what could have caused this great ice age between a mother and her daughter? Certainly love is there, but it’s obviously not enough love to maintain a steady relationship between the two.
Granted, during the series, Emily does some shockingly terrible things to Lorelai and messes up their relationship. Her ability to break Luke and Lorelai apart is almost what ends them for good, so in moments like that it’s hard to see why Emily can’t keep her damn mouth shut. Especially since it’s clear she wants them in her life, thus the Friday Night Dinner rule she made up on the spot.
It’s a very finely balanced dance between the two egos, but again… it’s also very complex. One day I’ll wake up and think about how absurdly crazy Emily is, and what a villainous mother she is… Then the next day I’ll think the opposite: She did everything out of love, the only way she could, and Lorelai never loved her the way a real daughter loves her mother, and Lorelai never wants a relationship with her; she only does it for Rory.
It goes on and on, day after day, week after week, and now… decade after decade. There’s no right or wrong when it comes down to them. They are the sum of the show’s parts. They act like children, which turns them into girls. Along with Rory who is a teenager, they are literally the Gilmore girls.
Here we are, nineteen years and 157 episodes later. Gilmore Girls continues to shine its Hollywood magic out upon the world. What was that magic exactly, that charm it had in its first five seasons? It was something you can only feel inside of you. You take it with you. It’s personal. Atmospheric. You can’t touch it, you can’t describe it to people. It’s like music, an invisible force that transcends what we can perceive, defying space and time. So much love, humour, grief, sadness and frustration put together in the form of a simple story about three generations.
And where are we now with the story of those Gilmore girls?
In a better place. Similar, but not the same.
All episodes of Gilmore Girls and the revival can be watched on Netflix.