Despite my love of smart teenage girls and rapid-fire cultural references, I never got into Gilmore Girls during its seven-season run. I’m pretty sure I thought I was too edgy for a show featuring a lovable mother and daughter living in a picturesque New England town. Good thing edginess is no longer a factor in my viewing decisions, because I happened to stumble into some reruns a few weeks ago, and then I had to go back and start at Season 1 and now I can’t stop watching. Aside from making me want to pick up and move to Connecticut (maybe I could be best friends with Sookie!), Gilmore Girls has reminded me just how great TV can be. Fully drawn characters, nuanced relationships, brilliant dialog, and the occasional scene that makes me cry. How many shows have so much to offer?
People tend to read Gilmore Girls as feminist -- it was part of that golden era of the WB when Felicity protested for reproductive rights and lesbians kissed for the first time on Buffy. Rory and Lorelai openly question gender expectations while maintaining their love of make-up, flowers, The Bangles, etc. So, FEMINISM. But I think there’s something simpler at the show’s heart.
What makes me want to watch episode after episode is that every character is a good person who’s doing their best. There are no villains. Okay, Paris is rude and Emily is controlling, but we sympathize with them know where they’re coming from, even when other characters don’t. Every person’s feelings are equally valid, though they can’t always communicate them to each other. It’s like real life except it takes place in the world’s most charming town. “Women are great” is a message here, but so is “Give people the benefit of the doubt” and “Follow your dreams” and “You should live in Stars Hollow.” It takes an incredible show to convey these ideas with such grace, humor, and subtlety. So thanks, Gilmore Girls. Messages received.