*head explodes from the awesome*
No seriously. I screamed with joy when I first heard it was coming. I screamed again on the day it actually was added to the lineup. This is one of my favorite shows ever. It’s smart, amazing, well-rounded and…one of my best friends has never watched it.
No seriously. Julia Kelly has never watched a single minute of the Gilmore Girls. This is surprising because GG is pretty much required watching for any girl, bookworm, or remotely academic-minded person under the age of seventy-five. (And that might be putting to many boundaries on it.)
So Julia is watching the first season. Two episodes a week, as a matter of fact, and reporting back on her thoughts. I’m very interested to watch her journey into the show because she will be coming at it from such a different perspective than I did. I started watching the show toward the end of the first season. That would be 2001. I was in college. Just meeting the man I would one day marry. Just becoming of legal age to drink. Whereas Julia is grownup and busy in her two careers. I wonder if the show will have the same magic for her as it did for me.
The show hit the airwaves at a delicate time in my life and I couldn’t be more thankful. I was suffering from a pretty intense case of PTSD and getting a heavy dose of reality that life in academia wasn’t as glorious and perfect as I dreamed it would be. I was disenchanted with everything–until I sat down and fell in love with Gilmore Girls. It was a perfect escape into the world I wished I lived in. It was comforting to know that there were thousands (?) of us across the country falling in love with the same show. It was fantastically awesome to see a beautiful bookworm with a sweet best friend, adorable boyfriend, living in an enchanting small town, navigating life. It made my own dreams for my life (that were currently in the process of being crushed by a harsh reality) seem less like a fantasy and more like a possibility. I just had to get through the crap and build my own little Star’s Hollow.
But there’s more! Aside from the personal reasons I loved the show, there is the fact that this show was so well done. I mine it constantly for inspiration when writing. If you write character-driven fiction about women, there are few places to go that will fill up your well like Gilmore Girls will.
One of the things I love most about the show was the way it played stereotypes. In the very first episode it proudly presents us with one stereotype after another. Characters that are almost as much caricature as they are anything else. But you can tell, even in those tentative first episodes, that they are being setup like this for a reason. And if you’ve watched the show, you know that these characters are so much more than their stereotypes.
Over the course of many episodes and seasons, Amy Sherman-Palladino peels back the layers of these stereotypes, exploring where they come from and what drives them. She provides us with backgrounds and stories for each of these characters. They transform from flat representations of people we all know in our lives, into well rounded characters with amazing depth. And we fall deeply in love with each of them.
Take Luke. OMG Luke. I teared up seeing the Willis Hardware store front in the pilot. He’s dark, brooding, and adorable. And over the course of the series we get a lesson in how complicated and compelling these quiet guys can be. I love referencing back to him when I’m developing a hero.
The Kims. I love, love, love Lane and her mother. I love even more that they are such important characters in the series. I love how they play Mrs. Kim off of Lorelei as two fiercely involved and loving mothers with completely different parenting styles, but the same goal. LOVE.
The grandparents. Ok, I love Emily and Richard. They set us up to kind of hate them in the pilot, but I think you can tell pretty quickly there is a huge story there. And there is. I love how their story is slowly told over the course of the series. I have a soft spot for them because they remind me so much of my own grandparents. Mine didn’t live in a mansion, but my grandfather had his quiet manner about him, he would have totally slipped me the newspaper while everyone else was babbling. They even look a lot like my grandparents. So, yeah. I love them, I always feel like I’m a short trip back into my own childhood during the scenes with them.
Sookie…the artist. The bumbling, clutzy, heart of gold, artist. She and Lorelei play off each other because they are both a little scattered. I miss Sookie, she was always one of my favorite characters, but I’m very happy she’s having great success in her post-Gilmore career! Gah, Sookie!
And there are the townspeople. Miss Patti, Michel, Kirk, the cast will grow and change, but they all remain the same: stereotypes that are so much more. They all add depth to the story of these two lovely ladies at the center of the show.
Which brings me to Lorelei and Rory. Lorelei starts off being presented as the “teenage mom”. Frustrated by things she couldn’t control, and overcompensating by over-controlling the things she can (like her relationship with her parents). She’s quirky and defensive, a little lost, and yet determined. I loved following the rambling development of her character. I love that she makes so many mistakes and is a mess. She isn’t perfect, but she’s amazing to watch along the way.
And Rory. The quiet, smart bookworm with a quiet ambition. I love her tenacity. She has it so much more together than her mother, but she stumbles in her own ways as she navigates the two worlds she inhabits.
The other thing I love about GG is the way the show is structured to constantly explore two opposing situations. It is really a show about opposites. The juxtaposition of things that are similar but completely different gives each episode a built-in structure to frame the story. Star’s Hollow vs Hartford. Rich vs middle class. Strict vs lenient. Tradition vs non-traditional. Quirky vs normal. The list really does go on and on. Sherman-Palladino really did a great job of presenting a situation and walking us through it in each episode. All while giving us two female leads in a show that is about more than falling in love.
So, as the graphic at the top of this post stated, I’m going to do a ride-along with Julia as she watches the first season. I’m going to do a few posts exploring the characters and topics tackled in the episodes. I have a feeling she is going to bring up some things I’ve never thought of, plus challenge some things I have. I’m sure she’ll bring up lots of topics for me to discuss! Plus, this show really is very near and dear to my heart and a total gold mine for writers. I think this will be a fantastic study for me as a writer. So, watch for future posts and ride along with me if you want! (The Gilmore Girls are on Netflix!)