Gilmore-isms: pop culture and comedy in Gilmore Girls
When most of us who grew up in the noughties are asked of a teen drama we favoured watching, the answer tends to be Gossip Girl, One Tree Hill or The O.C. As obvious as that may sound, it seems interesting that Gilmore Girls rarely gets a mention – particularly under this category. Set in the charmingly idyllic town of Stars Hollow, Connecticut, Gilmore Girls is perhaps best known for its sweet mother-daughter relationship and the immense speed at which the dialogue is spoken. Not to mention the constant debates (still to this day, despite the final season airing in 2007) over whom Rory should have really ended up with. Of course the show mainly revolves around Lorelai and Rory, the titular Gilmores, and their day-to-day experiences as they navigate through private schooling, overbearing family members and tumultuous love lives. From Lorelai’s tricky past with her parents and insatiable chemistry with Luke, to Rory’s obsession with her grades, the show’s drama is always easy to hook onto.
What sets the show apart from other so-called teen dramas of this era is its sardonic humour. Lorelai’s sharp tongue dominates a large amount of conversation, regardless of whether she’s talking to her mother or her best friend Sookie (fan- tastically played by Melissa McCarthy). In many episodes, it’s easy to forget that she’s the owner of an inn (though I’ve always thought of it as a glorified B&B) as opposed to a comedienne. The flat sense of humour was clearly passed down onto Rory, as she too comes back with blunt expressions. Though she is the more serious of the two, a clear irony considering her position as the daughter, Rory handles her interactions with other characters as sarcastically as her mother. This seems to be her coping mechanism for the trials and tribulations of high school and Yale, especially when faced with the high maintenance of her friend Paris.
Whilst the show’s humour is delightfully sassy, it must be seen in light of the numerous pop culture references littered throughout its run. Where else on television would a main character’s answer to: “what can we do in a bathroom?” be: “meet George Michael”? The show’s notoriously dark wit stems from these far-fetched references. Even though they live in a lovely (though I would venture to say suffocating and particularly white-washed in the same breath) tight-knit community, where you wonder how they can access all this eyebrow-raising knowledge, it never really seems that unusual. In many ways, the appeal of Lorelai’s parenting seems to be precisely because of her supreme ability to throw in a comment about J.Lo or The Shining whenever she can. Because of this speed and constant bombardment of references, the jokes can often get overlooked and the episodes subsequently seem to fall flat at times. Still, when you learn that Rory has read approximately 339 books over the course of seven series, you do begin to question your own abilities. The same sentiment is probably shared by her best friend Lane. Long-time sufferer of her strict and overwhelmingly religious upbringing, Lane’s double life sees her escape into countless tapes and CDs, ranging from Belle & Sebastian and The Velvet Un- derground to Madness. If it wasn’t for Lane’s intense love of music, I doubt the show would be able to feature quite so many mentions of obscure bands.With its beloved, fast-paced comedy, perhaps it’s time we return to Stars Hollow and dig out those box sets. Except this time, we might all be in on the joke.