Written by Camilla King

Arts

Binging: Gilmore Girls

It’s smart, funny, touching and now on Netflix. What, asks Camilla King, are you waiting for?

Photos: Warner Bros.

Photos: Warner Bros.

Gilmore Girls first aired 16 years ago. That’s a lifetime in telly terms; it’s frankly amazing that someone hasn’t ordered a remake.

Happily for British fans of the show, Netflix has just made all seven seasons available in the UK, perfect for an early-autumn binge session in advance of four brand new episodes also coming exclusively to the online channel this November.

People tend to fall into two camps with Gilmore Girls: never heard of it/seen it (which is unforgivable, and now you have no excuses) and diehard fans who believe that they have a deep spiritual connection to the show, obsessively watch episodes back-to-back, and who wake in the middle of the night humming Carole King’s iconic theme tune. No? Just me?

In case you fall into the first camp, Gilmore Girls is a smash-hit US comedy-drama about feisty single mom Lorelai Gilmore (Lauren Graham), raising her teen daughter Rory (Alexis Bledel) in the quaint Connecticut town of Stars Hollow. I first heard about the show from my best mate, who was banging on about it for years before I finally caved and started watching. I thought the first episode was a bit twee and irritating, but by the third, I was hooked.

“If I’m honest, my recent move from London to a small country town was partially motivated by the hope that I’d be stepping into a real-life Gilmore Girls.”

There’s something unique about Gilmore Girls, and it’s not just the snappy dialogue and constant pop-culture references for which it’s become well known; writer Amy Sherman-Palladino has created a show with real heart.

That heart has a lot to do with Stars Hollow, based on a real-life town that Sherman-Palladino happened to visit, and then essentially stole wholesale for the programme. It’s a town peppered with eccentric characters, where every change in the seasons is an excuse for a big celebration.

Everyone knows each other, in a sweet and only slightly weird way. In fact, if I’m honest, my recent move from London to a small country town was partially motivated by the hope that I’d be stepping into a real-life Gilmore Girls. There’s plenty of comedy from the supporting cast of townsfolk, and excellent pratfalls from Lauren Graham and Melissa McCarthy (she was being awesome in this years and years before Hollywood took notice), but it’s the drama that really sucks you in.

Gilmore Girls
Each of the seven seasons follows a year in the characters’ lives, so by the end of the show you’ve watched Rory go through high school and college, seen her fall in love (of her several boyfriends, I have to make honourable mention of bad-boy Jess who I, too, fell for in a pretty big way) and make the kind of bad choices we all make at some point.

We also see Lorelai really embracing the freedoms of being an adult for the first time. Having fallen pregnant with Rory as a teenager, she’s spent the years before the show starts struggling to make ends meet, focusing on bringing up her daughter and working her way up to become the manager at a local inn. Seeing Lorelai grappling with her job, relationships and trying to prevent Rory from making the same mistakes that she did, is powerful stuff.

And then of course, there’s Emily and Richard Gilmore, Lorelai’s wealthy and snobbish parents, played with absolute steely brilliance by Kelly Bishop and Edward Herrmann. Estranged from their daughter and granddaughter for the past 16 years, the family is reunited when Rory is offered a place at a prestigious school and Lorelai is forced to ask for their help paying her fees. The tension between Emily and Lorelai is utterly heartbreaking to watch and anyone who has ever fallen out with their parents is bound to identify with their halting attempts to repair the damage done.

“There’s something unique about Gilmore Girls, and it’s not just the snappy dialogue and constant pop-culture references for which it’s become well known; writer Amy Sherman-Palladino has created a show with real heart.”

I can’t properly express my love for Gilmore Girls without talking about Luke (Scott Patterson). Ah Luke. The cafe-owning, baseball-cap-welded-to-his-head, will-they-won’t-they love interest of Lorelai. The whole hat thing (he’s only got one and he’s always wearing it – does he ever wash it?) would be offputting, but the way he looks at Lorelai, with frustration, irritation and pure burning lust is an absolute killer.

Lorelai is naturally blind to it, and with Rory’s father popping up, not to mention one of her teachers getting in on the act, well, let’s just say that the course of true love really doesn’t run smooth.

The fact that many of these storylines were left unresolved in the final episode has been a source of great frustration to ardent Gilmore Girls fans. Over the years there have been rumours of a new series, even a crowdfunded film a la Veronica Mars (boy, was that a letdown), but thankfully – having fallen out with producers and left at the end of season six – Amy Sherman-Palladino is back on board for the new feature length episodes.

In typical Gilmore style, each one covers a season (spring, summer and so on), and all the key characters, including all Rory’s exes, are back.

If this sounds like your cup of tea, I suggest you book some time off work and go for the full immersive Gilmore Girls experience. You’ll need plenty of coffee (the Gilmores’ drug of choice), pop tarts and other junk food and a somewhat tacky floral blanket, and you’ll be ready to fall in love.

@millking2301

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Written by Camilla King

Freelancer in the arts. Unwilling expert on Batman, dinosaurs and poo (there are children) and running widow of @UpDownRunner. Lover of music, cake and lady stuff. @millking2301