Regularly scheduled programming: The enduring comfort of ‘The Gilmore Girls’

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(Emily Briones • The Student Life)

“Gilmore Girls” is one of my all-time favorite TV shows. Anyone who has ever had an extended interaction with me has probably heard me bring up an incredibly specific scene or episode that even only slightly relates to the conversation. It is my ultimate comfort show — I always have it on in times of stress, sickness and sadness, as well as every fall when it comes time for a rewatch.

For those unaware, “Gilmore Girls” is a comedy/drama series that aired seven seasons from 2000 to 2007 with a four episode revival in 2016. It follows Lorelai Gilmore, played by Lauren Graham, and her teenage daughter Rory, played by Alexis Bledel, in their eclectic and wholesome small town in Connecticut. Rory grows up from her sophomore year of high school to her senior year of college, experiencing a variety of setbacks and triumphs along the way.

When I first watched “Gilmore Girls,” I saw a lot of myself in Rory. She loves to read, is serious about school and going to college and spends her extra time working on her school’s newspaper — all things that could have been said about my high school self. I often would — and sometimes still do — watch her in order to find inspiration to do my own studying, a process that, while well-intentioned, was often counterintuitive.

In the fall of my sophomore year, “Gilmore Girls” took on a whole new meaning as a comfort show. After the results of the 2016 election, the constant news cycle became overwhelming, and I deleted all social media off of my phone. “Gilmore Girls” was the only media I consumed in addition to the fanmade companion podcast “Gilmore Guys.” Hosted by comedians Demi Adejuyigbe and Kevin Porter, the podcast has an episode for every episode of the show, doing deep dive analysis of the plot and characters. Listening to it every day between classes or while doing my homework, it was such a comfort to me and it made me fall more in love with the show and, more specifically, analysis of it.

In the years since I first watched it, “Gilmore Girls” has spent a lot of time in my thoughts. As a show made in the early 2000s, there are a lot of ways in which it hasn’t aged well. The main cast is predominately white. It can be fatphobic and otherwise problematic in its dialogue. These aspects raise valid criticisms and make parts of the show hard to watch now.

As I’ve grown up, what “Gilmore Girls” has meant to me has changed. I took almost everything at surface level when I watched it for the first time, as it was becoming one of my favorite shows. After listening to the analysis of the show by “Gilmore Guys,” I started to notice more about it, and I started to fall in love with analyzing this TV show, looking for themes and small details that point to overarching arcs.

Rory’s questionable and unpredictable choices when she goes to college at first made me angry and disappointed, but now as a college student, I can understand more of her feelings of ennui and confusion as she starts her adult life. The show is still one of my go to comfort shows — now, I can pick out a different episode for any mood I might be in. There are some scenes I can quote word for word, and I find ways to relate the plot lines to many different aspects of my life.

I have often joked that it’s my favorite show even though I hate all of the characters. This is partially true — I could talk about the show’s flaws for hours — but I think in many ways it’s an exaggeration. I could talk at length about its very valid issues, but I could also talk about why I love it. In a strange way, it’s one of my favorite shows because there is so much I could talk about. Even though it seems simple, I could go in-depth on just one episode.

It’s my favorite show for the comfort it brings me, the nostalgia of when I first watched it and the references I remember from “Gilmore Guys.” Like any of the shows I watched in high school, it has a lot of sentimental value to me, even as its meaning to me changes over the years.

Claire DuMont SC ’23 is one of TSL’s TV columnists. She would answer that she’s Team Jess if asked, but really thinks Dave Rygalski is the best boyfriend in the entire show.

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