For a long time I considered writing an essay about why Gilmore Girls has become my favourite tv show of all time, eclipsing even Buffy. This essay never materialised because it dawned on me that it’s exactly the kind of show that you CAN’T persuade people to watch, no matter how well you evanglise it or espouse its many merits. Most people already know what they think of Gilmore Girls (if they’ve heard of it) and they already know that they hate it. You can only change their minds by forcing them to watch it (and even then… it’s hit and miss). So I came to the realisation that no matter how eloquently I sold the show to its many detractors, I would just be preaching to the choir, the converted and the eternally skeptical.
In its place, I offer to you a recap of my observations on watching Season 1 (for what must be the 7th or 8th time). I recently retrieved my dvd boxsets from my parents’ house and am watching it through with John, who is a Gilmore virgin. He was skeptical at first but it has slowly won him over and I even catch him singing the theme tune sometimes. It probably won’t ever be his favourite show of all time (I wouldn’t want it to be, we’re not identical people) but I’m really glad that he’s enjoying it so much.
Anyways. Just for fun. Here are some things I noticed this time round (warning: MANY SPOILERS HERE):
- Even though Dean is introduced as a potential love interest in the first episode, he doesn’t really reappear properly for another 3 or 4 episodes.
- Despite the cast insisting in interviews that the pilot episode is so different from the rest of the show, tonally, it’s really not. They talk just as fast, they’re just as pop-culture and coffee-obsessed. It’s fairly consistent compared to a lot of other pilots/first seasons.
- It’s actually really really weird that we never meet Lane’s dad.
- It’s a lot raunchier than I remembered. I mean, for a ‘family’ tv show. Sex is implied fairly often and Lorelai once jokes that she’s gonna buy Rory a bong (!).
- I know Drella the harpist is supposed to be a consolation prize for Alex Bornstein not being able to take the role of Sookie (she was the original casting choice and played her in the first pilot shot) but SHE IS SO ANNOYING AND I WISH THEY’D JUST NOT BOTHERED.
- Now that Melissa McCarthy is a box-office comedy giant and Oscar-nominated thespian, I can really see just how great an actor she is. I always just assumed that she was sort of playing herself as Sookie, but having since seen her in other roles, I can tell that she’s not, she’s just really talented and really fucking funny.
- Just as Xander is my least favourite Buffy character and I would gladly wipe him from the entire series, Kirk and Michel make me want to die and as much as I personally think Gilmore Girls is the greatest tv show ever made (SUCK ON THAT The Wire), I could really do without ‘em.
- Dean really, really changes as a character throughout the series. In the pilot episode he’s made out to be this edgy outsider dreamboat, perfect for Rory. They discuss literature and he’s reported to have excellent taste in music (feminist singer/guitarist Liz Phair is mentioned). Even by the end of season 1, though, he’s morphed into a different guy. He’s shown to be simpler, more traditional, he voices wildly sexist views in one episode. Rory tries to get him to read Anna Karenina but he complains that it’s too long. By the time Jess turns up, he’s become a caveman, redneck monstertruck enthusiast. I realise why they did this - they had to to work beatnik rebel Jess into the love triangle - but I think it was also because, to sustain a show for that long, you have to create obstacles to happiness or the show becomes boring. If Rory had met her dream guy in episode 1 - an edgy, tall, literate, outsider rebel with boyband hair - where could she have gone from there?
- Paris is also a character who morphs massively. When she’s introduced she comes off like a boffin Regina George: Hermione Granger crossed with a Heather. She’s got two faithful vapid minions and she seems to rule the school with an iron, perfectly manicured nail. But by several episodes later she has metamorphosed into a much dowdier, uncooler butterfly. A moth rather. Madeleine and Louise, her two lackeys, change from equally academically precocious rich bitches in plaid into ditzy, sex-obsessed bimbos. I realise that it’s possible to be both wildly clever and wildly sexy. I am a sex-positive intersectional feminist. But the flipsides of these three characters are very 2 dimensional and rigid. Their postures change, their attitude, their dialogue, their tones of voice. Throughout the rest of the 7 seasons, Paris Gellar becomes an overambitious joke. She simply exists to annoy Rory and give her someone to compete against. In season 1 they attempt to make her an interesting textured character by playing her obsession with Tristan against Rory’s ambivalence, but it feels too soap opera-ish to really be interesting. Paris has the potential to be one of the most multifaceted, intriguing characters of the entire show, but within the first half of the first season she’s already dramatically altered, changing from a confident, vain dictator into an insecure, frumpy wannabe.
- I really cannot express in words how much I detest and resent Tristan as a character.
- Even though it’s perhaps my last favourite, season 1 still has some really fucking funny lines and great, snappy dialogue.
- I forgot how early they plant the seeds that bloom over the next 7 years. I knew that the Lorelai and Luke romance is hinted at RIGHT from the beginning, but I thought it was ignored from hence forth. I WAS WRONG. Season the First is LITTERED with awkward Luke and Lorelai chemistry. They come so close to dating, kissing and professing their attraction in so many scenarios that you’d think their relationship was sure to happen in season 2 (it doesn’t start until Season 5, really).
- Also the inn that Lorelai and Sookie buy up and transform into the magnificent Dragonfly makes its first appearance in season 1! I forgot that it took them THAT LONG to do anything with it.
- I completely forgot Rachel even existed as a character, she’s so bland and such a poorly rendered cliché.
- I really wish Rory had been rewritten as a gay boy or Lorelai had been a lesbian or something. The show has such a dearth of queer characters, it’s embarrassing and upsetting. I realise the creators probably had nothing to do with this, it was surely the prudish American network. But it really bugs me. I feel like I relate so much to so many of the characters and they’re all fucking straight (except Michel and Gypsy but it’s NEVER MENTIONED).
- Also, why we’re on the subject, there are NO PEOPLE OF COLOUR EXCEPT THE TWO GAY PEOPLE: MICHEL AND THE ABSENT-SO-FAR GYPSY. And the Kims.) I know this is small-town America, but really. This show is almost as white as Girls.’
I understand that that was probably DEEPLY boring for anyone who hasn’t watched the show obsessively over the years like me, but I had to get it off my chest *shrug*