Gilmore Girls Review: Pilot

As I stated in my earlier article about my summer plans, this summer I wanted to re watch a series that I had watched when I was a teenager and take a look at what I think of it now. The series I decided to go with was The WB classic (and later CW but I rarely count it) Gilmore Girls.  I was 13 years old when this show first premiered on The WB back in October 2000.  At the time I was the ideal person that The WB advertised their shows to and to be fair, I was watching Dawson’s Creek, Charmed, and 7th Heaven, so there was no way in hell that I wouldn’t be watching Gilmore Girls. I mean come on; it was a show about a mother-daughter duo who also happened to be best friends where they lived in a charming small town in New England. I was sold from the very first trailer.

Now I would like to tell you that I was a clever and witty teenager who could keep up with Lorelai and Rory’s pop culture reference heavy dialogues but I’d be lying. I’d have been lucky if I understood just one of their witty remarks. Even today, after re-watching the pilot, I still have to look up some of the references she and Rory and others make.  It was part of what made the show so clever and unique; not only was the show about a charming mother-daughter duo, it also had sharp, witty, and pop-culture reference heavy dialogue that made it all the more interesting.

However, their sharp and witty dialogue was only half of what made Gilmore Girls so great; the other half belonged to the superb cast who made that dialogue so entertaining that it didn’t matter that a 12 or 13-year-old (or younger) couldn’t understand the references. The cast was that charming.

I’ve always had this theory that even if the show has a great script, if the actors can’t live up the words that are coming out of their mouth than show wouldn’t be believable. The thing that makes shows like Gilmore Girlswork is that the actors who play the characters, in this case Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel made it easy to believe that Lorelai and Rory really were pop-culture fiends. Take one of the very first scenes in which we meet Lorelai and Rory in the pilot. Lorelai, a single woman in her early thirty’s, had just been hit on by an out-of-towner named Joey, at the Luke’s Diner in Stars Hollow, whom she calls “a regular Jack Kerouac” in which the guy looks totally confused, when her 15-year-old daughter, Rory, walks in. They had a quick discussion about how Rory is in desperate need of lip-gloss:

LORELAI: Oh, what do you need? Hot tea, coffee
RORY: Lip gloss.
LORELAI: Aha.
(Lorelai picks up a makeup bag.)
LORELAI: I have vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, and toasted marshmallow.
RORY: Anything in there not resembling a breakfast cereal?
LORELAI: Yes.
(Lorelai pulls out another bag.)
LORELAI: It has no smell but it changes colors with your mood.
RORY: God, RuPaul doesn't need this much makeup.
LORELAI: Well you're crabby.

A few seconds later Joey, the out of towner who hit on Lorelai comes back to hit on Rory. Lorelai introduces Rory as her daughter to Joey, much to his puzzlement. As if we already didn’t know, we now know that this is no ordinary mother-daughter relationship.

As I said earlier, it’s not just the two main stars that make this show work; it’s the entire cast that makes it work.  During that earlier scene in which that poor man hit on both Gilmore Girls, we meet Luke, the owner of Luke’s Diner. It is obvious he knows Lorelai well as he is the one who feeds her caffeine addiction, much to his chagrin. At one point she even calls him “Office Krupke” after he tells her about how unhealthy it is to drink that much coffee.

Stars Hollow. I cannot write a pilot review without talking about the town that became on the most idyllic locations in TV history. Stars Hollow is the small town in Connecticut (about 30 minutes outside of Hartford, according to Rory) where our Gilmore girls live. After giving birth to Rory it was the town to which Lorelai ran away too and has since never moved away.  It is an extremely charming little town with its variety of zany residents. We don’t meet all the residents in the pilot episode but we do meet some, like Ms. Patty, the dance instructor as well as resident town gossip.

We are also introduced to Lorelai’s place of work: the Independence Inn. Lorelai is the general manager. There we meet two of her quirky co-workers, Sookie, the head chef and Michele, the rude and constantly annoyed French concierge. It is obvious from the very first scene that Sookie and Lorelai have together that they are best friends. Throughout the entire series, Lorelai and Sookie’s friendship grows into something very special, and in my opinion remains one of the best parts about this series.

After meeting Lorelai’s crazy staff and friends at the Inn, we move on to the high school where we learn that Rory is not your average teenage girl. While other girls are not paying attention in class and talking about nail polish and boys, Rory is actually studying. She spends her free time doing extra credit and reading the classics, like Madame Bovary or Moby Dick. She also has a quirky best friend named Lane, who is Korean.  After school we meet Lane’s mother, Mrs. Kim, who isn’t all that fond of Lorelai because she is an unwed mother. Mrs. Kim is a total dictator whom Lane has to constantly hide stuff from, like her personality. One thing that I still find completely fascinating about this series is Lane and Mrs. Kim’s relationship as a foil to Lorelai and Rory’s relationship.  Lane’s relationship with her mother may be completely different from her best friend’s but the story that develops throughout the series is just as compelling.

The main arc of the series begins when Lorelai gets a letter that says that Rory has been admitted to an exclusive private school called Chilton. It has been Rory’s dream since she was a young girl to go to Harvard and being admitted into Chilton is almost a sure-fire way of securing that little dream of hers. There is just one slight problem: Lorelai doesn’t have the funds to send her daughter to this élite private school. After searching for solutions left and right and ending up short, she finally decides to ask her parents for help.

It is here in which we meet Richard and Emily Gilmore (Kelly Bishop and Edward Herrmann), Lorelai’s parents. We learn that after Lorelai had Rory at 16, she ran away from home and since has only seen her parents on holidays like Christmas and Easter. Richard and Emily are high society brats, Richard works as the vice president to a highly regarded insurance firm and Emily is a socialite. Lorelai never wanted to have to go her parents for a situation like this but she was desperate. Emily, finally seeing a way in says that they will give her the money but only if they can be a part of Rory’s life, which means weekly Friday night dinners at their house. Lorelai reluctantly agrees.

At the Friday night dinner we find out just how strained Lorelai’s relationship with her parents really is. She was already in a fight with Rory about Rory’s new reluctance to go to Chilton (because she met a boy named Dean) and being at her parents wasn’t making her feel any better. When Richard and Emily bring up Rory’s father, Christopher, Lorelai loses it. We learn that Lorelai feels like her parents have always loved Christopher more, even though she never married him –something her mother reminds her of often. Though they make up briefly this is nor the first or last fight that will occur between Emily and Lorelai.

The episode ends with Lorelai and Rory at Luke’s. Rory has just found out what her mom has had to sacrifice to have her daughter go to Chilton and agrees to go. They share a very sweet moment in which Rory tells her how brave her mother is before Rory gets grilled by her mother about Dean, in which Rory pulls out the daughter card and tells her mother that it is none of her damn business proving that there might be something normal about this mother-daughter relationship after all.

Other Thoughts/Quotes/Observations

~ It’s funny to notice the differences between the pilot and the rest of the episodes in the series. Luke’s for example, looks very different. Same goes for Lorelai’s jeep.

~I forgot how dark and mysterious they made Dean in the first episode, considering how sweet he really ends up being. I don’t understand why they tried to give him a bad boy type look when he was anything but.

~ I hate Emily’s hair in the first season. It’s just dreadful.

~I completely forgot about the rude harp player, who was only around for like a couple of episodes I believe before they gave her the boot. I like the troubadours better.

And finally, here is how I plan on writing about the first season. As I stated earlier, I will write another review at the end of every 3 episodes. This is mainly because there are 21 episodes and writing an episode a week would a really long time. This way, if I want, I can maybe even get through the end of season 2 by the end of summer. We’ll see. What I do know is that the next post will be about the episodes 2-4, since they do a really great job at setting up who the characters are, their background stories, and why the town of Stars Hollow is just so special. It should post sometime next week.

Also, please feel free to comment on things I might have missed or other observations you remember about the Pilot. Gilmore Girls is such a clever show that I am positive there are things that I still missed, so I welcome opinions and thoughts! See ya next week!