“Think how dull your life be without me.”Milo Ventimiglia, Gilmore Girls
Airs: The CW | Air Dates: 2000-2007 | Number of Seasons: 7
Gilmore Girls follows the story of a mother-daughter duo, both named Lorelai Gilmore, as they attempt to navigate the ups and downs of small town living all the while learning to love the family that has re-entered into their lives. Rory (the younger) and Lorelai (the older) live in a small, quaint town called Stars Hollow where the story begins. Lorelai desperately wants her daughter to attend a private school that costs more than she can afford. In a moment of desperation, she reaches out to her parents and asks for a loan to help pay for Rory’s school. Her parents agree with the one caveat that they instate Friday night dinners in order for them to monitor how Rory is doing at school. Thus begins a seven year journey of four Gilmores, three boyfriends, two husbands, and one girl who shows us that growing up isn’t quite as easy as it seems.
I first watched Gilmore Girls when I was a senior in high school. Initially, I admired the quick-talking wit that the Gilmores all seem to embody but by the second episode, I realized that without a significant plot to carry the story, the amazing chemistry between Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel would only take the show so far. I can’t quite remember what my initial opinions of the show was, but there was always a sense of nostalgia around the show even though I hadn’t quite watched it all the way through. With the length of the show and the 45-minute run times of each episode, I didn’t quite have the inclination to rewatch the show until my junior year of college. The rewatch was definitely brought on by nostalgia, but my opinions of the show seem to be a bit more refined given that I was only watching the show to remember why I had enjoyed it in the first place.
Since I started with the characters of Rory and Lorelai, let’s continue with my opinions on them. I read in an article once that Alexis Bledel believed that Rory was too perfect and never really seemed to get anything wrong. Initially, the show seemed to play into that, portraying Rory as the kind of person that everyone wanted to be; she was smart, unknowingly pretty, funny, and had an interesting background. As the show progresses, Rory loses herself and it requires some distance between her and Lorelai for her to find herself. At first, I wasn’t sure what this prolonged rift between the two main characters of the show was meant to do and then it was like a lightbulb flickered on over my head. Rory and Lorelai’s stories parallel each other in a way that was only prevalent as Rory gets older. Rory is used to constantly being praised and being the best. Once she is told that she can’t be the best, she gives up, whereas Lorelai is hardworking and even when she’s told that she can’t do something, she proves that she always can. Rory wants to claim that she is hardworking like her mother but soon realizes that when things got hard, all she had to do was run to her grandparents who were rich enough and who had enough power to make her mother back off.
On the other hand, Lorelai chooses to leave her family at sixteen, once she’s pregnant with Rory, and she raises Rory without the help of her parents until absolutely necessary. Lorelai starts off as a childlike adult and it almost seems like Rory is the responsible parent initially and Lorelai was the child but as Rory and Lorelai both get older, the roles begin to reverse mostly due to the fact that Rory was always the adult when she wasn’t supposed to be and when her life begins to fall apart, Lorelai realizes that she has to step up and actually be the adult. There are some parts of the show that contradict this point, but for the most part this observation remains true. In terms of the older Gilmores, Richard and Emily are the definition of a traditional couple. Richard works in insurance while Emily spends her days throwing garden parties and maintaining her social status. Initially, the relationship between Rory and Lorelai with Richard and Emily is strained and continues to be for well into the show. This is because of Lorelai’s decision to run away from her parents when Rory was born. As the show progresses, the showrunners were careful to create meaningful moments that demonstrate the family moving past this ruinous moment.
This show has a character driven plot. As Rory and Lorelai develop, the plot moves in different directions and there are clear moments where the characters’ decisions directly lead to a plot line that might not have been there had the opposite decision been made. However, with this method of storytelling, there are some decisions that require detailed explanations that aren’t always given with the confines of the show. The best example of this within the show is the massive decision of where Rory wants to go to college. She is accepted to three prestigious universities and makes a list in order to decide where she wants to go. Throughout the show, she has always wanted to go to Harvard and while this feels like it should be an obvious decision for Rory to make, it isn’t. While that comments on the ever changing nature of life, there was never a good explanation as to why she didn’t choose Harvard and the audience never really sees her decision making process which I almost felt was needed.
Overall, Gilmore Girls is a fun show. It balances the perfect amount of humor and sincerity that allows the audience to truly fall in love with Stars Hollow and its quirky cast of characters. It’s a show that banks heavily on nostalgia and provides this idealistic version of growing up in the early 2000s. It’s a show that feels entirely based on wish fulfillment but also discusses the difficulties of finding yourself in the years of late adolescence and early adulthood. It’s a fun show that doesn’t require that much attention to be intrigued and will keep you laughing for years to come.