The Language of Gilmore Girls

My very first memory of seeing Lorelai Gilmore on screen is the episode of season 3 called “Say Goodnight Gracie”. It was on re-runs on what was ABC family at this point. I was thirteen years-old. Here’s something you have to understand about me: I was a weird preteen, who at the age of 9, had decided she wanted to be a writer after realizing that’s what J.K. Rowling got paid to do. Write books.

At that point in my life, I was reading classic literature because those were supposed to be the best books. I watched a lot of old movies. And listened to a lot of classic music. I was Rory Gilmore, with asthma and a heart condition, a sarcastic streak and zero romantic prospects. Or maybe Paris Geller. I don’t know. The point is— I was also the girl who finished her state standardized testing and pulled out a massive, paperback edition of the complete works of Jane Austen that made Hogwarts: A History look like a beach read. It also caused my teacher to pause and ask, “THAT’S what you’re doing after testing?” And I just said, “Yeah.”

Anyway, back to the point. The first scene I ever saw was Rory going to retrieve Lanes backpack from a wild keg party that got out of hand because two boys that I had yet to see had apparently got into a fight over her. Lorelai finds out WHO caused the fight and instead of getting into an argument and grounding her daughter, bursts into a round of “Wind Beneath My Wings” by Bette Midler.

Something that me, being the weird girl with the tastes of Grandma, knew. And found absolutely hilarious. This show was different than everything else on the air. At the time, my weekly show was Smallville where Lana Lang got kidnapped every week and Chloe Sullivan was pining over Clark Kent. While being a badass journalist but also lots of kidnapping and girls pining and brainwashing. I mean, I got it. Because, hello Tom Welling, anyone? But also. I knew that couldn’t be all girls did. Get kidnapped and pine over guys while being brainwashed.

What was interesting about Gilmore Girls, was in the same conversation they could be talking about being pregnant and in the next referencing Arthur Miller. Rory was reading the books that I was reading, and in fact, expanded my need to indulge in classics as a thirteen year-old so I could keep up with her while reading Dear America and Nancy Drew. In one episode, Rory compared being held hostage to the Iran Contra Scandal.

These women talked about shoes, and clothes, and boyfriends, and best friends while at the same time never losing a moment to remind them of how smart they actually were. Never once is Rory made to feel weird for having academic interests, except for one moment back in the pilot to show how “different” she is and in season 1 when she freaks out over clothes and makeup for her first “date” with Dean. The idea that she could still be a teenage girl who got giddy around a boy she liked, while not being written off as an idiot because of it was completely different to me.

What’s more, Gilmore Girls was the first portrayal of college I remember seeing where it wasn’t focused on boobs and beer or intellectual geniuses harassing young women or young women being seen as dowdy, reserved book worms. Rory was allowed to be a smart, young, stylish twenty-something, without being regulated to the role of sexpot. They gave serious consideration to her hopes, her dreams, and her careers.

Granted, this seemed to go out the window with the Netflix “Special” (but we’re not here to discuss that. We’re talking 2001-2007 Gilmore Girls, folks. In a pre-streaming world). Gilmore Girls was unique because femininity was encouraged, but so were brains. Lorelai Gilmore could own a Hello Kitty toaster, while at the same time run her own business and it was OKAY. All while making references from Shakespeare to RuPaul to Christiane Amanpour AND getting excited about Jimmy Choos.

That’s what makes the show re-watchable, and why its audience continues to grow. You might not have understood a joke at thirteen, but then you come back to it at 25, 27, 29 so on and so forth and its hilarious. It gets better with age. Granted, there are a few hits and misses that don’t go well with a modern audience. But for the most part, the dialogue and the show are a gem and a must watch for anyone who wants to be a writer. Film or otherwise.

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