A Little History:
Gilmore Girls is an American comedy-drama series created by Amy Sherman-Palladino, starring Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel. On October 5, 2000, the series debuted on The WB to widespread critical acclaim and remained a tent-pole to the WB until it was cancelled in its seventh season, ending on May 15, 2007 on The CW.
The show follows single mother Lorelai Gilmore (Graham) and her daughter, also named Lorelai but who prefers to be called Rory (Bledel), living in the fictional town of Stars Hollow, Connecticut. This is a town filled with colorful characters,which is located approximately 30 minutes from Hartford, Connecticut. Ambition, education, and work constitute part of the series’ central concerns, telling Lorelai’s story from pregnant teen runaway and high school dropout to co-owner and manager of the Dragonfly Inn. Rory’s transition from public school to the prestigious Chilton is similarly followed, exploring her ambition to study at an Ivy League college and to become a foreign correspondent. The show’s social commentary manifests most clearly in Lorelai’s difficult relationship with her wealthy, appearance-obsessed parents, Emily and Richard Gilmore, and in the interactions between the students at Chilton, and later, Yale University.
Gilmore Girls is known for its fast-paced dialogue filled with pop-culture references. The show earned several award nominations, notably winning one Emmy Award. It was also critically acclaimed as it placed No. 32 on Entertainment Weekly‘s “New TV Classics” list, and was listed as one of Time magazine’s “All-TIME 100 TV Shows” in 2007.
The show is set in the fictional town of Stars Hollow, Connecticut. Amy Sherman-Palladino, the show’s creator, drew inspiration for Stars Hollow while she made a trip inWashington, Connecticut where she stayed in an inn, the Mayflower Inn, which she found beautiful. She was amazed at how the people of the town knew each other very well and by the next morning of her stay, the dialogue of the pilot was written. She explained:
“If I can make people feel this much of what I felt walking around this fairy town, I thought that would be wonderful. […] At the time I was there, it was beautiful, it was magical, and it was feeling of warmth and small-town camaraderie. . . . There was a longing for that in my own life, and I thought — that’s something that I would really love to put out there.”
The show’s pace is inspired by Katharine Hepburn-Spencer Tracy films.
The pilot episode of Gilmore Girls received financial support from the script development fund of the Family Friendly Programming Forum, which includes some of the nation’s leading advertisers, making it one of the first network shows to reach the air with such funding.
As signalled by its tagline “Life’s short. Talk fast“, Gilmore Girls is known for its fast-paced dialogue filled with pop-culture references. Much of the dialogue is peppered with references to film, television shows, music, literature, and celebrity culture. The relative obscurity of some of these allusions resulted in the production of “Gilmore-isms” booklets included by the WB in the DVD sets of the first four seasons. Subtitled “The 411 on many of the show’s witty and memorable wordplays and pop culture references“, the booklets also contain comments from the show creators.
Gilmore Girls also relied on a master shot filming style, in which a scene is filmed to frame characters and their dialogue together within a long and uninterrupted, single take; often illustrated through another method regularly employed on the show, the walk and talk. A special stage was made of plaster and celotex for the scenes during which Rory is at Yale, which were based on Calhoun College. Her visit at Yale to decide which university she should choose was filmed at Pomona College.
Iconic for its distinct musical score consisting of melodic “la-la’s“, Gilmore Girls’ score was composed by singer-songwriter Sam Phillips throughout its entire run. For the score’s instrumental arrangement, Phillips primarily used her own voice, an acoustic guitar, and on occasion included violin, drums, piano, and electric guitar as well. In crafting the sound of the show, creator Amy Sherman Palladino requested the music to sound very connected to the girls themselves, almost like “an extension of their thoughts. And if they had music going in their head during a certain emotional thing in their life, if they were real people, this would be the music that was going on.” Sherman-Palladino also stresses how “[she] thinks that is what elevated the show. Because [music] wasn’t a wasted element in the show. Everything was trying to say a little something, add a little something to it.”
Waltz #1 Cue :: Sam Phillips
Sonic Youth in Stars Hollow
Music also plays a large part in the show as a frequent topic of conversation between characters and in its appearance in scenes themselves. The musical tastes of most of the main and recurring characters are revealed at some point, and the two leads have notoriously eclectic but discriminating tastes: Both mother and daughter dislike the “nondescript jazz” played at a babyshower, sculpt a snowman in Björk’s image, and proclaim Metallica a “great band“.
Grant Lee Phillips as Stars Hollow “Town Troubadour”
In fact, the first conversation between Lorelai and Rory in the premiere episode, at Luke’s Diner, involves the whereabouts of Macy Gray’s debut album On How Life Is. Lorelai famously likes ’80s music including The Bangles, XTC, and The Go-Go’s, and her old bedroom at her parents’ home has Duran Duran posters on the walls. Rory is often shown listening to alternative bands, like Pixies,Sonic Youth, Belle and Sebastian, and Franz Ferdinand, and expresses her liking for P J Harvey and distaste for Smashing Pumpkins. Rory also swaps CDs with her mother, and credits her with introducing her to new books and music throughout her life in her address as Chilton’s valedictorian.
Rory’s best friend Lane is a music enthusiast, and her list of musical influences runs to five pages when she writes her “drummer-seeks-rock-band” want ad, which included the Ramones and Jackson Browne. Lane eventually forms her own band, Hep Alien, an anagram of the Gilmore Girls producer, Helen Pai’s, name. The band plays rock with various influences, and Sebastian Bach, formerly of Skid Row, appears as Gil, Hep Alien’s talented guitarist.
Various musical acts make guest appearances on the show, from The Bangles, Sonic Youth, Sparks and The Shins, to Carole King, who re-recorded her 1971 song “Where You Lead” (lyrics by Toni Stern) as a duet with her daughter Louise Goffin for the Gilmore Girls theme song. Grant-Lee Phillips appears in at least one episode per season as the town troubadour, singing his own songs and covers.
Lorelai names her dog Paul Anka, who later appears in her dream sequence in the Season 6 episode ‘The Real Paul Anka’. Though she only appears on-screen in one episode (“Partings”, 6.22), much of the non-diegetic score is composed and performed by Sam Phillips. In 2002, a soundtrack to GG was released by Rhino Records, entitled Our Little Corner of the World: Music from Gilmore Girls. The CD booklet features anecdotes from show producers Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino about the large part music has played in their lives.
The show’s last season was fraught with issues starting with the departure of showrunner’s/creators Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino. They were unable to reach agreements with the newly formed CW (network comprised of a merge of the WB and UPN) and left after Season 6. On May 3, 2007, The CW announced that the series would not be renewed.
According to Variety, “Money was a key factor in the decision, with the parties involved not able to reach a deal on salaries for the main cast members. Other issues, such as number of episodes and production dates, may have also played a role“.
Creator Amy Sherman-Palladino has expressed an interest in pursuing a Gilmore Girls movie. Lauren Graham has noted that a lot of fans “were disappointed with how it [the series] ended” and commented on the possibility of a follow-up movie. On September 15, 2010, Lauren Graham told Vanity Fair that a Gilmore Girls movie is a definite possibility: “people with power, people who could actually make it happen, are talking about it.” She stated the same thing in March 2013 through her Twitter account in the wake of companion show Veronica Mars earning Kickstarter funding for their film, saying it would be Sherman-Palladino’s call for a film.
Without a doubt or a moment’s hesitation, Gilmore Girls is my all-time favorite television series. Though there are many other shows that I dearly love, none of them quite compare to the stories of Lorelai and Rory Gilmore, their friends, lovers and family, and the town itself, of Stars Hollow. This is the one show that I will always be up for a re-watch of, that I still quote often, and that will always stick with me in that deep and all-compassing way that art we love can.
Perhaps it is my connection with Lorelai that caused this show to find such a permanent place in my heart. In all her good and bad ways, I relate to her, from being a young single Mom, to having struggles and periods of estrangement with her family, to her love of pop culture and music, to her friendships, her tenacity, and her love life (and issues therein). Sometimes the similarities and scenarios hit too close, painfully close, causing me to be a mess of tears in the midst of an episode. Other times I find myself feeling strangely less alone and understood in the similarities, feeling like I actually am seeing something real and relatable on a television screen, something that is very uncommon most of the time.
Oh, and she is a coffee addict, too!
Maybe it is the writing, and the amazing roles for women that Gilmore Girls provided that has my lifetime devotion. The show was as honest as it was witty, in its characterizations. There were women on-screen not always talking about men only, and also, never talking about dieting. That last one is a huge thing in media, one that I am not sure has been repeated elsewhere. There are women of all kinds of shapes and sizes, and their bodies are never a topic of conversation or plotting. For instance, Lorelai’s best friend, Sookie (played by Melissa McCarthy), was never given a diet story line, nor was she subjected to being boxed into the “friend” role, she had a complex life and was given real story arcs and relationships.
There are the relationships, too, that always rang so authentic to me. Relationships that had their share of painful fights, highs and lows, consequences and reconciliations, and sometimes no closure. There were complex scenarios that you rarely see on television, characters that were flawed and not stereotypes, who made mistakes sometimes, and did wonderful things sometimes, too. I have my favorites, for certain, and sometimes they change when I re-watch, but at the end of the day there are very few, if any, characters that I do not care for at all.
My favorite “love” relationships:
Rory and Jess
Lorelai and Luke
Lorelai and Christopher
Lane and Dave
My favorite friendships:
Lorelai and Rory
Rory and Lane
Lorelai and Sookie
Luke and Lorelai
Paris and Rory
In the end though, it is about Lorelai and Rory, their life, their family of two (and all the extended families they have), how they grow and change, how they hurt and heal, and how they love each other through all of it, even during the times they don’t like each other all that much. It all rings real and true and it has impacted me in many ways, as a person, as a woman, as a mother, as a friend, a lover, and as a writer, as well.
This time of year always has me itching for a re-watch, so, who knows, there may be some more Gilmore-themed posts in the very near future…like coffee and music, there never seems to be too much.
Where You Lead I Will Follow :: Carole King
My Little Corner of the World :: Yo La Tengo
And some moments…