It was the summer of 2006; the Mets had just won the Stanley Cup, Barack Obama was still getting up the courage to ask out Joe Biden (or something like that – I don’t remember. Come on, it was 2006!) and I had a secret. It was the summer vacation betwixt my junior and senior years of high school, and I was bored. No job, no camp, no summer lovin’, no nothing. But there was one thing I could do.
Every morning my Mom would leave for work and I’d shutter the windows, lock the doors, unplug the phone, set my AIM away message to “chillin’,” sequester myself in my room and do something shameful.
I would watch Gilmore Girls.
At 10AM on ABC Family, right after The 700 Club (sometimes I’d catch the last 5 minutes of The 700 Club and learn about why people loving the “wrong” people causes tsunamis or something. It’s my favorite comedy show on TV), I’d watch a rerun of The Gilmore Girls. I started watching years after it first premiered, so the daily morning screenings were reruns, but played sequentially, so I got to see Rory’s entire teen-life in a few weeks. Watching Gilmore Girls every morning was my deepest, darkest secret.
Of course I’m being facetious. If watching Gilmore Girls was my darkest secret I’d be literally the most boring person in the world.
But I was still embarrassed and ashamed. I was one of the lazier teenagers out there, but I still put a lot of work into making sure people didn’t know I watched The Gilmore Girls. One morning I was watching an episode where Rory and Paris were trying to do a scene from Romeo and Juliet, and the phone rang. It was a friend of mine,
“Hey man, what are you up to?”
“Oh nothing, just watching The Gilmore Girls (oh no! How can I get out of this one?)… Gone Wild? Gilmore Girls Gone Wild, yeah.”
“Girls Gone Wild? Seriously? Those things are so demeaning, that’s gross dude.”
“Nah man, there’s like boobs and stuff, it’s awesome.”
“Alright, whatever. Do you want to go get some burritos or something?”
“Well I like Taco Loco.”
“No way man, Burrito Heaven is way better.”
Editor’s note: We cut out a long dialogue here about the best taco place in the town the writer grew up in. Sean, please avoid these irrelevant asides and diatribes in future articles.
Editor’s note 2: Sean, please stop making up fake editorial notes for comic effect.
Editor’s note 3: You made that one up, too!
“Wait, Tristan is getting kicked out of school! I gotta go.”
“What are you talking about? Are we going out for–”
Things like that happened daily. I lived in a state of perpetual fear, constant terror that my secret would be found out and spread among my high school. I constantly worried that I’d be walking down the hall and hear someone whisper, “That’s the dude that watches Gilmore Girls,” instead of the usual “That’s that weird guy who looks kind of like Harry Potter.”
I could not have people knowing that I watched a show so feminine, how I held my breath waiting to see if Rory got into Harvard, wanted desperately for Luke and Lorelei to finally make it work, hoped that Emily would finally chill the hell out.
But why was it so shameful? Is there really something wrong with liking something intended for the other gender? Specifically, why is it embarrassing for guys to like girly things? The average person of any intelligence will tell you that there’s nothing “wrong” with liking things intended for the other gender–that’s just the common sense answer – but try telling that to a 16-year-old.
Eventually I had to come out of the Gilmore closet. I’d run out of reruns, caught up with the current run of the show. I had nowhere left to go, I had to watch the show on live TV. I could no longer hide my shame in the desolation of summer mornings. The first ones to learn were my parents, they found my secret stash on the TiVo.
“Sean you’ve been watching Gilmore Girls?”
“Oh uh, maybe, yeah I guess. Like by accident or whatever.”
“Oh, how is it? I hear it’s good.”
End of conversation. That’s it? They didn’t care? I thought I’d be disowned, kicked out of the house for good. But it went fine.
One morning after a night Gilmore Girls had aired, I was in math class sitting next to a girl I had a crush on at the time–one of those crushes you’re obsessed with, but years later you forgot they existed completely until you’re writing a HelloGiggles article that’s tangentially related–and I asked what she’d done the night before,
“Oh, I watched Gilmore Girls.”
Oh no. Where do I go here? Do I admit my fandom to make conversation, or hide it to appear “manly”? I had to think fast, and take note of this decision for my theoretical Choose Your Own Adventure auto-biography.
I thought quick on my feet: “Heh, Rory should have stayed with Jess, Logan is such a weenie. But my favorite was that naked guy in the hall.”
“You watch it too! Oh my God, I’m so excited Lane is getting married!”
Whoa. It worked! We talked about Gilmore Girls every math class after that. Sure, I eventually bungled the whole thing and only saw her outside of school once, but the moment was pretty cool.
Was all my shame and hiding it a waste of time? Could I have been open about it this whole time?
Sure, when I “came out” to my dude friends they made fun of me about it for like fifteen minutes, but I got over it.
It was worth it. Gilmore Girls was always a smart, sharply written show. It was funny, it was quotable, it was fun and had just the right amount of drama.
Gilmore Girls was quality television.
And I think it helped me learn a little bit about the female experience. I watched Rory grow up, and I watched Lorelei mature. Having watched the Gilmore Girls helped me empathize with women more because I had a little bit of a view into growing up girl. I was with Rory for her evolution from girl to woman, and I watched the whole thing in one summer.
I always tried to think of what the boy version of Gilmore Girls was, like a thoughtful comedy drama about the male experience. But why does it have to be about the male experience?
Guys can enjoy a show about women. Why not? I think it would be easy to adapt Gilmore Girls to make it more appealing for guys to watch.
Maybe just change the title. Give Rory a few more low-cut blouses. Give Kirk a few superpowers too. And also just have one episode that was entirely fight scenes between Jess and Dean, but Jess wins every time.
Actually just a lot more Jess in general.
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