We have taken up residency in Stars Hollow. I leave my house expecting to walk across the town square, maybe take my coffee to sit in the gazebo. I will no doubt run into Kirk, who will have some harebrained new scheme and miss all my social cues. Luke’s Diner, Taylor’s Soda Shoppe, Mrs. Kim’s Antiques, Gypsy’s repair shop…. These are the places I expect to drive by when I’m out and about.
And I’m not the only one.
My son keeps me up past our bedtime with long discussions of who’s a better boyfriend for Rory: Jess or Dean.
I’m Team Dean all the way.
“Dean is boring!” my son protests.
“Yes, but Jess is emotionally stunted,” I point out. “Not his fault, of course, but he really needs some therapy.”
“But Dean is married now!” my son reminds me.
“Well, he’s not good boyfriend material either, is he?”
Even my level-headed husband isn’t immune.
“I think I’m losing touch with reality,” he tells me. “I was just thinking about dropping by Luke’s Diner on the way home from playing basketball.”
“Meet you there,” I want to say. “I like the table behind the door.”
We’ve been marathoning Gilmore Girls, and while it’s hardly the first show we’ve marathoned, it’s coloring our reality in a way that few shows ever have.
It’s comfort TV at its best—witty dialogue and lots of it, lovably quirky characters, an idyllic setting in a small town that seems to be perpetually celebrating a town festival. There’s plenty of intrigue, yet little happens on the show in terms of plot. There is no great drama, just the small tensions and conflicts of family and friendship. It’s like real life, except everyone looks great and always has the right snappy comeback.
We watch a lot of TV together, and the only way I can feel good about so much of it is if it offers invitations to reflect on and develop values and beliefs, to process feelings, and to grow in emotional intelligence. That’s a tall order for an experience that must primarily feel like entertainment for my son.
But Gilmore Girls gives us so many opportunities to talk about emotions and communication. For people who love to talk to each other, all of the characters, even the well-adjusted Rory, struggle to articulate their feelings and tend to run from emotional intimacy and vulnerability. Lorelai and her parents can barely have a conversation without yelling at each other, and misunderstandings are rife because no one can quite manage to be honest with themselves, much less with anyone else.
Of course the real draw is the bond between Lorelai and Rory. Lorelai may struggle with her own parents, but with her daughter, she gets it very much right. They are mother and daughter and so much more: best friends, co-conspirators, always each other’s biggest fans. It’s the warm, nurturing, equal relationship every teen girl wishes she could have with her mother.
And maybe every teen boy too.
“You know why I love this show?” my son asks. “Because we’re Lorelai and Rory.”
I’ll take it.