Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Gilmore Girls

I've finally come around to this show in a sort of circuitous way. When it first premiered, it seemed like something I might like, but I believe it was on opposite Friends and I was, at the time, a big Friends fan. (It's tempting to feel ashamed of this, but I think Friends, at least its earlier years, has gotten kind of a knee-jerk bad rap. But that's a subject for another time.) So I didn't start watching it right away, but the more I read about how good it was and saw ads for it, the more it really seemed like it would appeal to me. I remember watching it once or twice, then, maybe when Friends was in repeats, but just not being drawn in. I then wrote it off as a show with a good premise that just didn't work for me, although I wished it well.

Then, a couple of years ago, I wrote a story in which I watched TV for 24 hours straight. One of the things I watched was a Gilmore Girls repeat, which just blew me away with the quality of its writing and acting. I guess since I had dismissed it in the past, I didn't expect anything quite that good, or that affecting. Now, I've finally gotten around to really watching the show, having just finished the first season on DVD from Netflix. And I think I can say that my raised expectations from that one episode were met. I read a lot now about how the show has sharply declined, especially in the eyes of hardcore fans, but coming at the first season I could hardly find any flaws.

The two main characters are immediately appealing and identifiable, even with their rapid-fire dialogue and constant witticisms. They are idealized versions of people you might like to know, or to be, but at the same time their lives are certainly not ideal. There is a definite emotional core to the show that never seems at odds with the light, banter-y tone. These are smart, independent women who are able to find love with smart, independent men, but are just as capable of doing stupid, needy things to screw it up. They love each other in a mostly non-dysfunctional way, but they have plenty of dysfunction in their relationships with other people. There is an emotional reality here to go along with the unreality of the dialogue.

And I can see how the barrage of pop-culture references and circular conversations could get old over time, but for now I find it very entertaining. Strangely enough, I sort of skimmed through some of the special features on the DVD, one of which features some interview footage of creator Amy Sherman-Palladino. She talked exactly like Lorelai, and I found it unbelievably annoying. It's odd to think that what's so appealing and entertaining in a TV character could be so immediately annoying and off-putting in a real person. That said, the more sedate Rory does seem like someone I wish I knew back when I was in high school, though I certainly was no Dean.

I've got the second season lined up now in my Netflix queue, although I'm watching some other stuff first. I don't know if I'll see the same decline in quality over time as so many others have, but I think I'll keep watching until (and unless) I do.

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