I commented on a photo of a new friend, who had a lovely picture of her daughter with tennis buddies, probably junior high/high school, saying that they were all so lovely, not all sexed-up with makeup, hair, clothes. “Wholesome” was her word. One of my three favorite shows–a polar opposite from the other two, but equal on the score of brilliance in writing and acting–is Gilmore Girls. It aired 2000 to 2007 and replays on Family Channel (before the 700 Club of all things) and it is G-rated.
The premise is simple but clever. clever Lorelai Gilmore is a wealthy 16-yr-old living in a Hartford mansion, the daughter of insurance executive father and society-DAR mother, the organization that wouldn’t let Marion Anderson sing, prompting the withdrawal of Eleanor Roosevelt but not Bess Truman). (I compiled a book, “First Ladies,” when I was working at book company in SB, and I had to get two quotations by each first lady for the coloring book. It was trying with women like Sarah Polk and Mildred Pierce, the latter absolutely hating Washington, politics and pretty much anything that did not involve sleeping in bed or horses. But Eleanor was such a brilliant writer about democracy and it was absolutely impossible to select two, of moderate length, and I finally convinced boss to let me pick three or four.)
Lorelai gets pregnant and her parents want her to marry the boy, also an only child trust fund baby. She runs away to Stars Hollow, a fictional tiny CT town, supports herself and her daughter by working as a maid in the inn. In the pilot, Rory gets into Chilton, the Dalton of Hartford, and Rory wants to go so she can get into Harvard, her dream since kindergarten. Lorelai must go to her parents, with whom she has had next to no contact in 15 yrs, and from whom she has not taken a dime, to ask for a tuition loan. They agree, on the condition that they have dinner every Friday night (on YouTube you can see tons of amazing Friday night dinners), and call to update the grandparents on school and personal life. Every episode features a Friday night dinner, and it is amazing to see the family dynamics at work.
Once Lorelai runs into Max (see below) at Hartford CVS-type store for antihistamine and he asks why she’s in town. “Friday night dinner,” she reminds him. “Aaah, how’s that going?” “Oh, minimal bloodshed, but I need a spare bedroom for all the new baggage.” She has broken off their engagement, and he’s gone to Stanford to teach for a year or semester, and asks how Rory is. “She’s the encylopedia definition of good,” she beams proudly. “Same boyfriend?” “Uh.. different boyfriend.” “You hate him!” “No, I’m nice. I let him eat the good cookies. ” “You REALLY hate him,” Max laughs. Very sweet. (Milo Ventigmiglia, later famous on Heroes is her second of two boyfriends in high school, and he is one of the few very young actors with whom I am profoundly in love, based on his portrayal of bad boy with a love for literature, Jess Marciano.)
The writer and creator is Amy Palladino and her insight into the parental dynamics with Emily and Richard (Lorelai’s parents, played by veteran actors Kelly Bishop and Edward Herreman) is absolutely brilliant. Emily has a habit of going through maids and one day Richard makes a crack about her inability to keep help for more than a month, so she tolerates a maid who is absolutely horrible, dumb as a box of rocks. Lorelai asks, “So what’s up, Mom? You’ve had maids deported who were better than this.” Emily explains Richard’s crack and says, “It’s true. I have maids I didn’t like, but I’ve also had maids I loved.” “Name one,” commands Lorelai. “Dale,” she says in a gloating tone. “Who?” “She took you shopping when you were four or five.” Lorelai laughs,” You haven’t liked a maid since I was four?” “No, I’ve had maids I liked . You said loved. Dale I loved.” “Oh yeah, what happened to her.” “I have no idea but I loved her,” she says self-assuredly.
In a tremendous and emotional season 1 fight, Lorelai shows up unannounced (a big no-no with protocol-following Emily), to introduce her to her fiancee, played by the gorgeous and talented Scott Cohen. Lorelai doesn’t even tell parents about engagement and they find out accidentally when Sookie (her best friend and chef at the Independence Inn, a heavy woman with an actually angelic face, perky personality and enormous heart) invites them to the engagement party. Lorelai is slightly tipsy but not drunk and orders Max to turn up the street to her parent’s estate. They fight and Emily says she is hysterical and refuses to have this discussion. Lorelai counters, “These women [maids who have quit] have lived through Death Squads in El Salvador but a month with Emily Gilmore has them running for the hills.” Lorelai keeps this engagement from them as she is insecure about it to begin with and does not want “to feel bad” about it, because she does love Max though he’s not right for her. (I’ll take him! Handsome, English teacher, funny, sweet…)
The mother/daughter relationship is the best mother/daughter bond I have ever see in any television show or movie ever. They are absolutely best friends. Rory, played by Alexis Bleidel, is the perfect daughter: beautiful, brilliant, bookish, sensitive, kind, and loyal. She is the best female teen role model ever on television, in my opinion.The music is great and both mom and daughter are movie and music buffs. A central locus of activity in the show is Luke’s diner, run by the cantankerous, backwards baseball cap-wearing Scott Patterson, an uneducated small businessman who turned his father’s hardware store into a diner and is Lorelai’s best male friend. The dialogue is extremely rapid, as both are coffee addicts and the father is in and out of the picture, but always amiable. Bleidel is remarkable, and she was not even an actress before the show, really. She was a wildly successful international model. Both women are physically stunning, with perfect faces and hair. Oddly, they do yo-yo in weight and someone on the now defunct GG board called Rory’s body horrible. She ranges from a 2 to a curvy 6, while Lorelai ranges from a 4 to a curvy 8. Of course I like them in their skinny incarnations better, but they are both stunning women with enviable hair and clothes.
Rory has two high school boyfriends, but has sex with neither. She ends up going to Yale, not Harvard, though she gets into all the Ivies she applies to, and there meets Logan, a gorgeous , smart, romantic, funny, mischievous trust fund baby, and eventually they have sex (season 6 out of 7, junior year at Yale), but you never see anything other than clothed kissing. It’s a G-rated show all the way and Lorelai has various romantic prospects, including, in the first season Scott Cohen, the handsome , smart dark-haired actor who played the bad cop on NYPD Blue whome Diane (Kim Delaney) eventually shoots to death. He plays Mr. Medina, a literature teacher at CHilton, an exclusive private day school, coed with uniforms, just like my high school, except for mine was all girls till 1990, the year I graduated.
Paris Geller is her Chilton rival and eventually best friend and Yale roommate, editor of the Yale Daily News, until Rory takes her place. It’s funny, sweet, and very quirky (the residents of Stars Hollow are very funny), and eventually Lorelai and Sookie, the chef best friend who marries vegetable guy Jackson and has three children, buy their own inn and are very successful. She is also best friends with Luke, a cantankerous, loner diner owner in Stars Hollow who turns his father’s old hardware store into the main eating establishment in Stars Hollow. They become engaged at one point, but break up. Her best local friend is Lane Kim, a rock-and-roll loving Korean daughter of a Seventh Day Adventist who owns the antique store in town and makes her read the BIble constantly, attending church events, Bible study etc..
The great character actor Edward Herrmann is Lorelai’s father, and her very difficult, ornery, controlling mother is Kelly Bishop, formerly a dancer , and an actress for many years in many movies. She plays the perfect WASPY matron of Hartford and is very close to Rory, the daughter she never had, eventually “Phi Beta Bimbo,” as Lorelai says early one when she brings her stupid but kind first boyfriend to Friday night dinner, and Richard her father tortures him, regaling him with questions about college, future, and ambitions in life. It is a very touching scene as Rory is seriously angry at her grandfather for treating Dean this way. And in a rare moment, Lorelai defends Richard, saying, “He probably has never loved anything in his life as much as you. And here you are, bringing this beautiful boy to meet them, and all of a sudden he’s in a horrible Lorelai flashback, no college, no Phi Beta Bimbo……” Rory is amazed and says, “I’m not going to get pregnant.” Lorelai tells her, “I know that,” and Rory says, “HE should know that.” “I know,” Lorelai agrees, “but if you cut him some slack I’ll wear my Porn Star t-shirt to dinner next week.”
I have seen every episode in 7 seasons at least twice over the years and it’s just a lovely show, with a famous Carole King score and song, ‘The La La song,” which has endless variations. The show concludes with Rory’s surprise graduation party by Luke and other Stars Hollows residents, who have seen this beautiful, talented, perfect little girl grow up and send her off to her first journalism job–paid–in the finale.
I honestly think that Gilmore Girls should be required for every pregnant mother in the country. I think if every single mother watched this show before raising her little girl, therapists/shrinks would be virtually out of business, aside from kids who just have purely chemical imbalances requiring meds. She is THE perfect mother and anyone, whether she has a good mother or a bad mother, will envy Rory profoundly.