Gilmore Girls

I’m not a big fan of ABC Family, but the boys like Full House so the Tivo switches to that channel every morning to record it. One morning last year, I slowly woke to find that I had fallen asleep watching TV on our love sac. Full House had just finished and another show was starting. I hadn’t opened my eyes yet and still had one foot in dreamland but I slowly took notice of the dialog on this show. It reminded me greatly of David Mamet and was chock full of obscure cultural and literary references. I opened my eyes and took in my first episode of The Gilmore Girls. By the third commercial break I had acquired a Season Pass (i.e. I told my Tivo to record every episode on ABC Family) and Tina and I have been fans ever since.

Wikipedia has a detailed entry about the show but I’ll summarize for those of you that don’t want to read the whole thing:

  • Lorelai Gilmore and her illegimate daughter Rory live in tiny Stars Hollow which is a short drive from Hartford, CT.
  • Lorelai comes from “old money” but she ran away from home after she became pregnant as a teenager. She scraped and worked and built a modestly profitable career for herself as an inn-keeper in Stars Hollow, a very small but quaint town with colorful characters (think Northern Exposure without the snow).
  • Rory is incredibly smart and aspires to a more challenging education than Lorelai can afford. Eventually, they broker a deal with Lorelai’s estranged parents in which they pay for her tuition at a private school and Rory and Lorelai are obligated to attend dinner at their house once a week.

The show mostly follows Rory and Lorelai after Rory begins attending fictional Chilton Academy in Hartford. The Friday night dinners with parents Emily and Richard are masterpieces of dialog writing. The character development is also well done and by the end of the first season I felt like I knew the main characters as well as I know most of my own friends. In addition to the Gilmores, the towns folk of Stars Hollow are also well-developed and multi-faceted. There’s even a town troubador played by Grant Lee Phillips who occasionally serves the role of Greek chorus.

Although Rory and Lorelai are the obvious heroes of the show, their characters are complex and sometimes makes choices that are less than perfect. At one point, I was ready to stop watching the show when Rory lost her virginity to her married ex-boyfriend (sorry for the spoiler) but the subsequent handling of the plot was so beautiful and so real that it only served to further cement my love of the show.

I’m not sure why the show was off my radar for so long or why so few people know of it, but consider this my highest recommendation for a TV series. All seven seasons are available on DVD but ABC Family airs an episode at 11:00 am and 5:00 pm each weekday (according to their website). Starting on Friday (May 16) this week, they will have reached the end of season six and will start over with the pilot episode. They air them serially so you can see the whole series over the course of a few months. Check your local listings and set your DVR’s!