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Monday, February 15, 2010

"Gilmore Girls": Or how I learned to stop worrying and love Stars Hollow

Lorelai Gilmore was the mom everybody secretly wished they had. Or at least her wardrobe. But what made the hip single mom-good girl daughter WB dramedy so endearing and charming without ever getting sappy was the witty, pop culture-peppered, rapid-fire banter between Lauren Graham’s Lorelai and Alexis Bledel’s Rory – usually over obscene amounts of caffeine, junk food and bad movies. Sometimes snarky, sometimes sweet, but always sincere.

-- Kendra Meinert


This family-friendly WB drama gave birth to one of television’s coolest mom’s — the hip, young Lorelai Gilmore — but the pop-culture references, mile-a-minute dialogue and an endless group of bizarre but lovable characters made it a classic. Lorelai and daughter Rory (Alexis Bledel), a smart studious teenager, gave us seven seasons of laughter and tears, not to mention at least a thousand cups of coffee.

-- Malavika Jagannathan


As far as shows geared toward the entire family go, the 2000s never topped the superior wit and whimsy of those darned “Gilmore Girls.” With more words per minute than a Mamet play, each episode of the WB dramedy sounded like a classic screwball comedy, with an extended cast of crazies that only gave the story of a young mom and her bookworm teen daughter an amazing emotional heft.

-- Adam Reinhard


Ever since the end of Channel Surfing's Best TV Show of the Decade contest in early January, I'd been looking to fill some gaps in my viewing. More specifically, I noticed that when our staff filled out final ballots, three of our esteemed voters had a certain show called "Gilmore Girls" ranked highly on their lists.

Me? I'd really never heard or read anything about it. And despite trusting (yet simultaneously mocking) Adam Reinhard's opinion on the matter, I thought "Gilmore Girls" would turn out to be nothing more than a slightly smarter version of "Dawson's Creek" -- which, I know isn't saying much since anyone with an ounce of intellectual integrity should have wanted to punch that Pacey dude in his smug nose.

Sorry, but I've been conditioned to naturally loathe anything that even resembles cliche-ridden rom-com fare, so just having the word "Girls" in the title made this show reek of "One Tree Hill" for-chicks-only residue. But it was hard to deny the above endorsements, so I started watching toward the end of Season 2 as my wife ripped through the first two DVD sets with unabashed glee.

It started off innocently enough -- an episode here and there filled with questions to my wife about why Lorelai didn't get along with her parents, or random musings on why boring ol' heart-throbby Dean should get dumped by Rory in favor of bad-boy literature buff Jess. Then I started to remember names, cracking up every time Kirk would appear with a different job uniform or hatch a scheme about phrase of the day T-shirts with slogans like "Babette ate oatmeal." I started to really like the surly diner owner who rejected Stars Hollow's charming community events, empathize with the suppressed indie rock Korean chick, and geek out every time Grant Lee Phillips -- "Mockingbirds" is one of my all-time favorite songs -- made his recurring cameo as the town troubadour ala Jonathan Richman in "There's Something About Mary."



But things really turned when I began to care about Rory's relationship tug-of-war with Dean and Jess. Just paying attention to quirky characters on the fringe was one thing. But now I had unexpectedly been sucked into the show's dramatic entanglements. First, I wanted dry-as-toast Dean to get the heave-ho so Rory could be with a more challenging boyfriend, even if he kinda resembled a young Rocky Balboa. Then, as Jess became a relationship drag, I saw Dean more sympathetically and thought, "Hey, at least he treats his girlfriend right."

That I cared about any of this reveals the true power of "Gilmore Girls." You see, I'm not the kind of guy who normally wants to watch TV shows that explore teenage love triangles. And admittedly, "Gilmore Girls" is a pretty girly show. But it's girly in the sense that "About a Boy" is girly, or listening to Death Cab For Cutie is girly. "Gilmore Girls" created such a hip little corner of the world -- one filled with idiosyncratic characters, pop culture obscurities and kick-ass music references (Joe Pernice, Sonic Youth and The Shins all appear on the show) -- that I was able to dial into the show's more dramatic emotional depths without feeling as though I'd just been doused with a Nicholas Sparks-sized bucket of sap.

It's pretty deceptive that way. Every dark turn the show could have potentially taken has turned out to be delightfully harmless in the end. Sure, there are serious moments, particularly as it applies to Lorelai's relationships with both Christopher and Luke. And for all the show's sugar-coated whimsy and wonder, there are all-too real family issues that deliver an emotional wallop. A heavy-handed shift in plot development occurs in Season 6, and the topsy-turvy nature of the strained roller-coaster ride made for some nauseating viewing. Yet as much as Season 7 (the first without show creator Amy Sherman Palladino) was supposed to drive a final nail in the "Gilmore Girls" coffin, I actually think it's recovered quite nicely.

With only three episodes to go before the show's series ender, my wife has been feeling particularly wistful that our two month race through seven years of "Gilmore Girls" is coming to a close. That familiar theme song, Luke's coffee, Emily's insults, Lorelai's rambling, Kirk's nudity, Taylor's town meetings, Paul Anka, Sebastian Bach, Hep Alien ... "Gilmore" marathons have become part of our routine like Friday night dinners.

Then again, last night I reminded her that I still need to watch Season 1. So I guess we won't be leaving Stars Hollow that abruptly after all.

-- Thomas Rozwadowski, trozwado@greenbaypressgazette.com

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1 Comments:

Hear, hear! I cannot agree more. Gilmour Girls was my guilty tv pleasure while it was still on the air. Very underrated in my opinion. I'm over a decade removed from being a teen, and a male but I think this show has it all: hot chicks, smart humor, music, like-able characters, good writing. I'll gladly take any mocking and keep watching re-runs when I can.

By Anonymous JASIII, At February 17, 2010 at 7:58 PM  

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