One of the highlights of my young life was in the summer of 2008, when I was working in Marina del Rey, CA and, on my day off, drove to Burbank and took the Warner Brothers VIP Tour. I wore my ‘Luke’s Diner’ t-shirt, which I still have today. Needless to say, I’m rather a big fan of Gilmore Girls. Unlike many of the other fandoms to which I belong, however, there’s something a trifle mysterious and – dare I say – even out of place with this show. Most of my other escapes are to faraway worlds with the flair of the fantastical; Hogwarts, Gotham City, Pern, Middle Earth, Dragaera, Gallifrey, and so on. These universes, and the stories that take place within them, have all been well traversed, speaking to me on many different levels. From adolescence and early adulthood, they have proved to be the tools that would shed light on my innermost identity, shape who I am as a writer/filmmaker/creative and continue to help me understand and trust myself during my darkest hours. Gilmore Girls was no less instrumental in this process, but I still find myself at a bit of loss to explain why. To start with, fantasy worlds provide built-in escapism, but Gilmore Girls is a real-world sentimental drama series. Harry Potter (along with several of the others) place heavy emphasis on what it means to be powerful; Hogwarts has been the place where I go to remember my inner strength and find adventure.
So what drew me – and kept me attached – to Gilmore Girls?
My go-to answer has always been that I immediately jived with the two title characters; I’m very close with my mom and the relationship between Lorelai and Rory is very similar to ours. That was a big change to the mother-daughter relationships that I was used to seeing portrayed in television and film at the time (or even since, really). And, even now, looking back, I really felt like Rory when I was in high school; I was never quite the academic that she is, but the clothes she wore, the disinterest in much of the pop culture on all sides and the fervor for writing was all very much my experience of high school and college, was all very relatable, unlike television’s all-too-frequent portrayal of teenagers (of both genders) as glamorized and unattainable in life.
While this was refreshing to stumble onto, it still didn’t seem like enough to justify why I felt such a connection to the series and while I went through all of the reasons that it’s an exceptional show in its own right (more on that in a minute), what I figured out through sifting through it all is that since my first watch and now, between one adventure and the next, Stars Hollow has been my sanctuary; the soft place to land. Gilmore Girls has no shortage of intense scenes, emotional moments or hard-hitting sequences, but it presents them in a way that is quietly powerful and almost always offers resolution and comfort, even in the midst of the most difficult situations.
As to the rest, the show is made of quality stuff; fast pace, ceasing intelligence, crackling dialogue, witty pop culture references and range of humor, not to mention its readiness to be raw and real. It’s legendary for passing the Bechdel Wallace test on the regular and being a true trailblazer in television as a female-led show avoiding the usual tropes (as explained in fantastic detail here, courtesy of The Daily Dot). The series, too, avoided cheese and sappiness for almost the entire course of its existence (and only showed up once there was the change of producers). The emotions are real; there’s never a simple “right or wrong” action, solution or character. The show particularly excels at exploring gray areas and presenting characters that mess up, hurt one another, work through that mess and forgive each other. This show makes me cheer, cry, laugh hysterically and always leaves me wanting to come back for more. As Logan says in Hay Bale Maze: “Stars Hollow is better than Colonial Williamsburg.”
I was first introduced to the show by a friend who was already a devoted fan. Even though I was visiting that particular night, it was Tuesday, so at 8pm sharp, we sat down to be serenaded by Carole King and watch the newest episode (Richard in Stars Hollow). Thrown into the middle of season two, I didn’t understand why Richard was so unbearably judgmental of Loreali, why she took such criticism for so long before standing up for herself, and why he doted on Rory. I didn’t understand the fast-paced dialogue either, or the quirkiness of the town, but the latter two I was unquestionably drawn to, enough so that I was compelled to backtrack to the beginning and see how it all began. I was soon hooked. And while I didn’t loathe the final season(s) as much as everyone else did, I definitely view them as missed opportunities. What would the conclusion to such an amazing show have been like if it had been seen through by it’s creator, Amy Sherman-Palladino? Thankfully, we’ll find out sometime in 2016 and I could not be more excited about that. Closure and catharsis will finally be granted to us. Maybe it’ll finally even garner some LONG overdue awards.
To ready myself for whatever new material awaits us this year (or next), and to celebrate the long road that’s led us here, I’m going back to the beginning of the series yet again, and will review the show, episode-by-episode style. I know them all backwards and forwards, though – or so I think – so why bother? Why not just look ahead? Because, to this day, if I feel blue, or have a spare 45 minutes, I will meander down the road to Stars Hollow, CT because it truly is a home away from home, and the fact that that will never diminish or change, to me, makes it a classic.