Friday, December 7, 2012

In Defense of Gilmore Girls

I started watching Gilmore Girls last year.  Yes, I hopped on the Gilmore train a little late, seeing as the show ended five years ago.  To be totally honest, I thought I was going to hate it.  I do not consider myself girly at all, I am not a romantic, and I was pretty sure I was past the whole ‘high school girl wanting to go to Harvard but ends up at Yale’ phase (replace gender and college names as needed, and this applies to just about everyone).  But a friend of mine talked about the show often enough, and it was only fair I gave the first episode a shot.  I was immediately hooked. 

It didn’t matter that I had nothing in common with Rory Gilmore or anyone else on the show.  For some inexplicable reason, I loved Gilmore Girls.  I laughed with the characters and experienced their ups and downs.  Before the end of the first season, I felt like I personally knew every resident of Stars Hollow, Connecticut.  I couldn’t stop watching the show – all I had to do was press the “Next Episode” button. 

Yet while I was 100% positive I loved Gilmore Girls, I kept my newfound favorite TV show a secret.  Yes, I told my friend who introduced me to it, I watched the show with my roommate, and occasionally made a few Gilmore Girls references to some of my close friends.  But I couldn’t bring myself to tell my parents, who knew me as the girl who refused to watch any show but 30 Rock and Jeopardy.  I could just hear my dad laughing, “You? Gilmore Girls? I never thought I’d hear those two things in the same sentence.” 

But why is Gilmore Girls looked down upon so severely? Can it really be equated with Gossip Girl and 90210? 
Gilmore Girls is, in my opinion, incredibly well written.  It is witty.  It makes references to movies, books, and music from all time periods and all genres.  I am sure that I have not picked up the majority of these references; this is what makes it possible for fans to re-watch episodes (don’t worry, I haven’t gotten to that point in life… yet…). 

Aside from the obvious examples, in which Rory discusses the ‘disappearance’ of Ernest Hemingway’s manuscripts or reads Pushkin on a park bench, there are others that I believe push Gilmore Girls into the category of ‘good’ TV.  In one of my classes this quarter, Introduction to Comparative Politics, we read chapters from a book by Barrington Moore, Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy.  Moore’s book, a historical comparison of political development, is a staple of Political Science.  It is certainly no light read.  Furthermore, if I had not taken the class, it is possible that I never would have read the book, let alone heard of it.  So, you can probably understand my surprise when I saw Rory reading the monster of a book in a Yale dining hall.  I was even more shocked when a friend approached her, named the book, and joked about her “light reading.”  He then proceeded to invite her to the birthday party of a very wealthy friend of his.  He informed her that the party would be Quentin Tarantino-themed. 

Gilmore Girls is not all classic literature and intellectual exchanges, however.  There are still adventures and heartbreaks and cliffhangers just like any other popular TV show.  Rory’s best friend, Lane, balances out the bookworm with the audiophile, listing bands and album names like there’s no tomorrow, from Sonny and Cher to Fleetwood Mac. 

I would not expect such references in Pretty Little Liars (or any other show on The CW or Bravo, quite frankly).    So why is Gilmore Girls criticized so harshly?

I have told my parents about my discovery of Gilmore Girls.  Yes, I did get the same reaction I predicted earlier. But just today, I received a text from my mom telling me about the Bracebridge Dinner in Yosemite.  What was different about this text was that she also added, “There is a Gilmore Girls episode about it!”  My parents are finally coming around to the show (well, my mom is…).

I do not expect everyone to love Gilmore Girls.  However, I believe that the show deserves much more respect than it gets in the realm of television.  No matter how long ago the episodes were produced, viewers can watch them over and over again without losing interest.  The literary, film, and musical references are endless and relatable to all.  And above all, the show captures the genuine quirkiness of life, told through the lives of the Gilmore girls.

-Adriana Baird

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