“Gilmore Girls” draws to a close on May 15th, and I couldn’t be more depressed. I’m never one to fall in love with a television show that didn’t star yellow cartoon characters, so to watch “Gilmore” end after a seven season run breaks my rusted, cancerous critic heart.
Unlike other TV programs that I’ve followed from the start, I didn’t get in on the ground floor of “Gilmore.” After spying a commercial promoting an appearance by The Bangles midway through the first season, I tuned in to spy on my number one rock crush, Susanna Hoffs. What I ended up with was a severe curiosity about this strange show where characters vomited brainy dialogue in atypical Gatling-gun fashion, located in an anti-Mayberry small town populated with the most itchy and socially constipated neighborhood characters I had ever seen. I was hopelessly hooked from the cold opening.
The continuing adventures of Lorelai (Lauren Graham) and Rory (Alexis Bledel) Gilmore was defined in the first six seasons by the lightening-fast wry wit of creator Amy Sherman-Palladino (along with husband Daniel). Her crystalline vision for Stars Hollow was staggering, constructing prime time dramedy that wasn’t afraid to drop obscure literary and pop culture references, put alt-rock hipsters to work, and fall hard for the actors, fighting furiously to hand the cast plenty to work with in nearly every episode. In a landscape of procedural dramas, hospital-show cringing, and shameless reality muck, Sherman-Palladino desired her show to feel like home. For nine months out of the year, she achieved exactly that.
Like any television series, “Gilmore” set sail with humble beginnings. Funded in part by the Family Friendly Television Forum, the show was promoted as a softer alternative to the harder-edged programming that clings to the boob tube like a virus. Watching “Gilmore” evolve over the years, the program grew a startling personality, leaping between the fantasyland of comedy and the universal heartbreak of parenthood, shedding any sort of mild foundation to blend in staggering emotional verisimilitude – occasionally piercing right through the heart. Even awful detours in scripting and tone (every show has them) never asphyxiated the serene, cordial intent of the show.
No matter how verbose, romantically tangled, or slapsticky the program became, a critical dramatic magnetism was always maintained by Graham and Bledel. Two actresses pitch-perfect in their river deep, mountain high roles, the girls of Gilmore always grounded their show in intelligence and open-hearted humor. Over the run, Bledel grew slowly into Rory’s skin, cautiously feeling around the gracelessness of teendom (privileged teendom no less), blossoming into a young woman of anxiety but unswerving in her intellect and curiosity.
How Lauren Graham was routinely ignored by the Emmy Awards is one of Tinseltown’s biggest mysteries (next to the Black Dahlia murder and Joss Whedon’s popularity). The bottomlessly talented actress delivered every week as the flawlessly dressed, rarely inhaling, unlucky in love single mom. Lorelai’s character arc was a knotted, often uproarious journey, with Graham acing every one-liner, unspoken desire, and hairpin scripted turn with a heavenly poise you rarely find on television anymore. It was just this level of monumentally funny, touching acting that elevated “Gilmore” every chance it could find.
For the record, my gushing, indefatigable crush on Graham only informed 10% of the preceding paragraph.
I know for some fans, saying adios to “Gilmore” isn’t such a difficult task. After leaving the series last season due to a contract dispute, Palladino was replaced by semi-quack David Rosenthal (do yourself a favor and Google his backstory), who had the grueling task of making the show hum just as efficiently while also dealing with the demands of his newly empowered cast. The seventh season certainly hasn’t been as thoughtful, passionate, or sharply blueprinted as previous years, but, at the end of the day, it’s still “Gilmore.” Like pizza, sex, and the Nintendo Wii, when it’s bad, it’s still pretty good.
Tuesday nights just won’t be the same without Luke’s wet blanket charm, Kirk’s buffet of impulse, Sookie’s irresistible spunk, Lane’s ubercool way of the drummer, Taylor’s megalomania, Paris’s destructive social skills, Richard and Emily’s unrelenting WASPness, Rory’s plucky educational spirit, and Lorelai’s coffee-stained oneness with the sprawling and tranquil Stars Hollow universe. “Gilmore Girls” was classic comfort food television that, if there’s any justice in this world, will be cherished for years to come.Rating: A