All the ways "Gilmore Girls" is like real life (and all the ways it isn't)
In honor of the return of everyone’s favorite show, featuring a spunky single mom and her willful young daughter in picturesque Stars Hollow, I’ve compiled a list of the most relatable aspects of Gilmore Girls, as well as the least real things we’ve ever seen on the show. Because for every moment you ever said, “OMG, IT’S ME!” while watching Rory and Lorelai stumble their way through life, there was another moment, sometimes a mere two seconds later, when you thought, “Wait WHAT? WHY? WHAT IS HAPPENING?” So without further ado, here we go.
Realest depiction of teen romance:
I would argue that no show has ever portrayed the nuance and range of the teenage heart as well as Gilmore Girls did. Who didn’t feel for both Rory and Dean when they realized that one of them was in love, and the other wasn’t? We’ve all been in that situation on one side or the other, and both sides of that coin hurt — Gilmore Girls held up a mirror to show exactly how that kind of relationship plays out. And then there’s Jess. Oh, Jess — the typical bad boy. And yet, Rory loves him, and he loves her. Why? Because feelings, man. And leather jackets. And Jack Kerouac. Sigh.
Least real depiction of how long it takes to plan a wedding:
Apparently, Stars Hollow exists in a time warp that allows the wedding planning process to happen in one to two weeks, max. First it was just that random wedding for those twins in Season One that seemed to come together in five days flat, with no apparent pre-planning. Seriously, how was Sookie still taking menu requests two days before the event? How had they not picked their flowers until the weekend of? Then, there’s Lorelai’s ill-fated wedding to Max Medina, which seems to come together within a similar time-span. Okay, fine, maybe it was more like two weeks. But like, how were they just deciding on where to get the cake the week of?!
And then there’s Luke’s sister, Liz. Oh, Liz. Are you trying to tell me TJ proposed, they called all their friends, and were then able to pull off a Renaissance-themed wedding all within the span of two weeks? No wonder everyone in Stars Hollow seems frantic all the time — it’s because life-changing events could be happening at a moment’s notice, apparently.
Realest call-outs, blow-ups, and blow-outs:
On Gilmore Girls, people are usually called out when they do something wrong, and in ways that are honest and truthful rather than hurtful just for the sake of it. Lorelai is called out by Christopher for dropping a bunch of emotional garbage into his lap about how she’s processing his impending marriage and baby, and rightfully so. Lorelai’s response to Rory hooking up with a married Dean is equally honest and necessary. And when Rory responds by saying, “I hate you for ruining this for me!” we’re struck by the fact that seems like the first time she’s ever said something like that to Lorelai. Life is messy, and Gilmore Girls doesn’t dress up the mess.
Least real understanding of the basics of human behavior:
And yet, for all that brutal emotional honesty, Lorelai seems to have a lot of random blind spots when it comes to how the universe generally functions. Oh, you can’t believe your dad would throw his coworker under the bus to save his own ass just because you’re dating the guy? And then you can’t believe that guy would sue him to try to and do the same thing? Look, I know Lorelai is ultimately a television character who we are supposed to believe runs on coffee and dreams, but at the core of it all, she’s also run a successful business for years. And the thing is, that same character has watched her father have major success in business throughout her whole life. She should know at this point how things work.
Realest depiction of the true pace of life:
There are whole chunks of episodes when nothing happens. Like, things happen, but they’re things that happen in the normal course of life. Sure, there are also huge bombshells, like the inn burning down or Richard and Emily separating, but there are also long spans of time when we just watch people going about their lives. Lightning-speed wedding planning and fast-paced banter aside, Gilmore Girls moves at the pace of life itself, which means there’s a lot of time during which nothing especially remarkable happens, and those are the times we can truly enjoy the nuances of the relationships at the core of the show.
Least real depiction of summer planning:
However, being cool with nothing happening during long stretches of time doesn’t excuse the show’s utter lack of acknowledgment regarding planning one’s summer as a teenager. Rory never knows what she’s doing for the summer until, like, June. I’m a mother. I know how far out you have to plan your kids’ summers. You start getting emails from camps in November. Internship recommendations are due in January. Unless she wants to work at Doose’s, Rory would have to gather information, get teacher recommendations, write out applications, fill out financial aid forms, etc. all by March at the latest. Good luck being a foreign correspondent with such an utter lack of sense of deadlines, Rory. Not. Gonna. Fly.
Amy Sherman-Palladino has created a world where people talk, act, and live in a way that is somehow just to the left of reality. While the world she creates isn’t an ideal, there’s a sort of meta-realism going on in Stars Hollow and everywhere the characters of Gilmore Girls go. They all seem to know they are performing Sherman-Palladino’s witty, quippy, referential dialogue, yet at the same time this aspect of performance frees them to also speak more truly, honestly, and freely than we do in our real lives. It feels so real because it’s a distilled version of what we know to be true —a concentrated little universe where nothing and everything happens, where nothing and everything matters, and happiness is something as simple as the first snow, and as elusive as being able to say “I love you” and mean it.
Rachel Klein is a writer and comedian living in Boston, MA. She’s written for The New Yorker, McSweeney’s, Reductress, and The Toast, and blogs about feminism and culture at racheleklein.com. You can follow her on Twitter here.