Rory Gilmore would rather eat her lunch alone with a book than with her classmates. When socializing feels too difficult, she puts in her headphones and dives into her Melville, Austen, or Proust. For those of us who have followed Rory’s fictional life, the show Gilmore Girls serves nearly the same purpose for viewers as literature does for Rory: it’s a piece of media we turn to when we want to feel OK.
Netflix’s acquisition of the 2000’s series sparked a (re)discovery of Gilmore Girls for millennials, some of whom were even too young to have watched when the show initially aired. Viewers delightfully, familiarly jump into Lorelai and Rory’s world, their relationships with each other, their family, their crazy town, their men. Phrases like “Oy with the poodles already!” gain cult status on t-shirts, mugs, tote bags. Everybody has an opinion on boyfriends Dean vs. Jess vs. Logan. Rory and Lorelai Gilmore are beloved to two decades-worth of girls.
I watched the show when it played weekly on first The WB, then The CW. As I worked through my AP classes, Rory became valedictorian and went off to Yale. Now, I re-watch Gilmore Girls on Netflix from time to time. At first I re-watched the whole series as soon as it came to Netflix. For the past few years, I’ve selected my favorite episodes whenever I’ve felt like I needed it. I reach for Gilmore Girls when I feel beaten back by whatever the day pelted my way. Sometimes when my roommate and I would need to decompress we would choose the season or episode we wanted to watch together. It is the vanilla ice cream of TV: sweet, refreshing, classic, innocent, indulgent.
Most recently, as soon as my sister Aviva left New York after helping me move into my apartment, I collapsed on my newly-acquired couch. We had spent the week together cleaning my new apartment from top to bottom, sweating and napping and watching thunderstorms from my Brooklyn bedroom that contained only a bed. Once Aviva returned to Los Angeles, my apartment was quiet and too empty. I had been moving in a straight line—move out, get to Brooklyn, move in, clean the house, get settled, money—with no time to think about leaving my friends and family, where I wouldn’t get to go home for Friday night dinners. Finally, I had time to take a breath, and I needed to turn off my brain and the part of me that already missed my sister. I wanted to feel hugged and comfortable without engaging in my own relationships, because I somehow wanted to be alone, too.
I turned on the Gilmore Girls pilot and made my way through the town of Star’s Hollow. Next I watched Rory and Lorelai botch a first day in a scary, new place. Then I watched the family celebrate her 16th birthday party with their chosen family of townspeople. Rory met Dean, Lorelai wore fabulous yet also hideous outfits, references to classic films abounded. Eventually I texted my sister and my friends, “watching Gilmore Girls cuz I’m sad you’re not here.” My sister texted back, “me too.”