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Gilmore Girls is an hour-long American television drama/comedy that has aired since 2000. It is broadcast on The WB network in the United States and in dozens of other markets. Amy Sherman-Palladino created the show and served as its executive producer with husband Daniel Palladino until the end of the sixth season.
The show has been renewed for a seventh (and probable final) season, and will move to The CW in the 2006-2007 TV season. The CW is a merger of two networks (UPN and WB) that is co-owned by CBS and Time Warner. David S. Rosenthal, the current executive producer of the show, will take over as show-runner in the wake of the Palladinos' depature. The traditional timeslot of the series, Tuesdays at 8pm Eastern/7pm Central, will remain unchanged with the move to The CW.
The show follows single mother, Lorelai Victoria Gilmore (Lauren Graham), and her daughter, Lorelai "Rory" Leigh Gilmore (Alexis Bledel), in the fictional town of Stars Hollow, Connecticut, roughly thirty minutes from Hartford. The series explores family, generational divides, and friendship, set in a close-knit small town with many quirky characters. Currently, the most significant of those characters is Luke Danes (Scott Patterson), to whom Lorelai is engaged and who runs a diner where characters often meet.
Gilmore Girls features intricate, extremely fast-paced dialogue, with numerous modern pop culture references, along with many other references to politics, high culture, or anything else. It also has specific perspectives on social class, represented most regularly by Lorelai's sometimes contentious relationships with her wealthy blue-blooded parents. The show's wit and character-based humor have won it a loyal following of both critics and viewers.
The pilot episode of Gilmore Girls received financial support from the script development fund of the Family Friendly Programming Forum. It was the first network show to reach the air with help from funding provided by that organization, which includes some of the nation's leading advertisers.
The show was not a ratings success initially, airing in the tough Thursday 8pm/7pm Central timeslot dominated by Survivor and Friends in its first season, but has grown a following that eventually saw it outdraw its timeslot competitor, popular series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, in the ratings after it moved to Tuesday nights in September 2001 in the wake of Buffy's move to UPN. Several of the writers of Buffy have been prolific writers on Gilmore Girls.
In its fifth season, Gilmore Girls blossomed into The WB's second most watched primetime show, with a fan base which grew by double digits in all major demographics , though it remains strongest among girls and women. It also garnered a timeslot on the ABC Family Channel. Re-airing the original episodes in their original order, the ABC Family repeats opened the show to viewers who missed its original WB showings. The ABC Family reruns have earned the WB's Gilmore Girls an even larger audience.
By the time of its fifth season, Gilmore Girls received an American Film Institute Award and two Viewers for Quality Television Awards, and was named New Program of the Year by the Television Critics Association.
The show's actors have received many awards for their work on the series. Lauren Graham was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series and received two consecutive nominations for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series from the Screen Actors Guild and won two Family Television Awards along with a Teen Choice Award for Best TV Mom; and yet against much outcry from the fans, she has yet to be nominated for an Emmy. Alexis Bledel has won a Young Artist Award and a Family Television Award. The series also won a Family Television Award for New Series, and was named Best Family TV Drama Series by the Young Artist Awards.
The first season was released on DVD on May 4, 2004; the second season was released on December 7, 2004, the third on May 3, 2005, the fourth season was released on September 27, 2005, and the fifth season was released on December 13, 2005. All five seasons are framed in the traditional NTSC 1.33:1 format on the DVD box sets, despite the series transitioning to HDTV 16:9 framing in the fourth season; this was a artistic decision made by Sherman-Palladino to present the program as she visualizes it.
Lorelai (Lauren Graham) and Rory (Alexis Bledel), in Gilmore Girls
Lorelai's conflict with her wealthy parents is central to the back-story for the series. Her headstrong mother, Emily (Kelly Bishop), and her father, Richard (Edward Herrmann), had high hopes for their only child, Lorelai. At the age of sixteen she was a college-bound student attending an elite prep school. Lorelai dashed their hopes, however, by becoming a teenage mother. The problem was, she won't marry Rory's father , Christopher. (a choice agreed to by everyone but Lorelai), she ran away from home when Rory was about a year old. Lorelai supported herself and Rory by working as a maid at the Independence Inn in a small town about half an hour away from her parents' house. Lorelai eventually becomes general manager of the inn (at the start of the series) and tries to minimize her parents' contact with Rory.
The first season of the show begins with 16-year-old Rory's acceptance to Chilton, an elite prep school in Hartford, Connecticut. Lorelai knows that she cannot afford the high cost of tuition and reluctantly decides to ask her parents for help. They give her a loan on the condition that Rory and Lorelai must join Emily and Richard for dinner at their Hartford mansion every Friday evening.
Lorelai's various romantic entanglements also play a role in the show. Her relationship with Luke (Scott Patterson) finally grows from friendship to a romantic relationship at the end of the fourth season, and they get engaged in the sixth season premiere. Prior relationships included Max Medina (Scott Cohen), Rory's Chilton English teacher, to whom she was engaged, as well as Jason "Digger" Stiles, Richard's much younger business partner. Lorelai's periodic reconnections with Rory's father, Christopher Hayden (David Sutcliffe), another child of a wealthy family, also play a part in the series.
Lorelai's career as the manager of an inn is pivotal to the first few seasons of the show, as well as her aspirations to open an inn of her own. After years of planning, she and her best friend, chef Sookie St. James (Melissa McCarthy), open their own property, the Dragonfly Inn. Sookie and Lorelai are joined at the Dragonfly by their co-worker Michel Gerard (Yanic Truesdale), a Frenchman with attitude to spare.
Rory's coming of age is complicated by her close relationship with her mother. Rory is fifteen in the first episode (although Lorelai says she is sixteen in the pilot, she celebrates her sixteenth birthday several episodes later). She and Lorelai regard each other more as best friends than mother and daughter. Rory's burgeoning adulthood and occasional need to pull away begin to complicate this relationship, although the closeness between them remains a constant on the show.
Rory's academic aspirations also complicate matters. Rory had wanted to attend Harvard University since kindergarten; to achieve this she transfers to the private (fictional) Chilton Academy from the public Stars Hollow High at the beginning of her sophomore year. There, she encounters an unfamiliar world filled with rich and high-strung peers. Rory ultimately decides to go to Yale, her grandfather's alma mater, after making extensive pro and con lists and receiving her mother's blessing.
Paying for Rory's education is another recurring theme of the series that binds the main characters. Lorelai repays her parents' loan for Chilton just before Rory's graduation, but weeks later discovers Yale is not offering any financial aid for Rory, putting her education in financial jeopardy once again. This time, Rory goes to the elder Gilmores and asks for tuition money, once again in exchange for the continuance of the Friday night dinners. Emily and Richard agree and continue to pay for Yale until the spring semester of Rory's junior year, when Rory's father, Christopher, begins paying her tuition. This creates tensions with her grandparents, but ultimately the Friday night dinner tradition continues.
As with Lorelai, Rory's romantic attractions also play a part in the show. Rory meets Dean Forrester during the first season (Jared Padalecki) and maintains a relationship with him for the first two seasons. She does break up with Dean briefly in the first season, when Rory isn't able to say I love you. It is during this time apart that Rory kisses Tristan Dugrey (Chad Michael Murray), a boy she has a love-hate relationship with at Chilton. However by the end of the season she is back together with Dean. She meets Luke's nephew, Jess Mariano (Milo Ventimiglia), during the second season. They become friends, but their relationship grows, and Rory kisses Jess in the second season finale. Early in the third season, Rory is torn between Dean and Jess, but she chooses Jess and remains with him throughout the third season. In season four, after Rory and Jess break up, she has a fling with now-married Dean, which ultimately ends his marriage and creates a short-lived rift between her and her mother. At Yale, Rory becomes involved with Logan Huntzberger (Matt Czuchry), an under-achiever from a wealthy family that owns a newspaper empire and immediately disapproves of Rory. Logan's father, the infamous Mitchum Huntzberger, hires Rory as an intern. His crushingly negative evaluation of her work leads to her leaving Yale temporarily at the end of the fifth season.
In the sixth season premiere, Lorelai and Rory are estranged and Rory is living with her grandparents. She is taking time off from college and serving community service for stealing a yacht with Logan. Eventually, the mother and daughter reunite after Jess makes her realize her mistake. Logan gets upset at Rory and leaves without resolvement. Rory then returns to Yale for the spring semester of the 2005-2006 school year. Lorelai, who is now engaged to Luke, is frustrated by his keeping his newly-discovered daughter(April) from her, and their relationship is on the rocks. Rory's relationship with Logan is on-again-off-again, after she attends the wedding of Logan's sister to discover that he slept with some of the bridesmaids during their brief "break up" earlier in Season 6. The next episode, Rory takes Logan back, although she has not forgiven him. Logan leaves for three days on a Life and Death Brigade event. Meanwhile, Rory visits former love interest Jess and kisses him and apologizes because she loves Logan. During the trip Logan is seriously injured. Rory takes care of Logan after his accident, and their relationship is repaired.
At the end of the season six finale, Logan leaves for London to work for his father's newspaper. Rory confronts Mitchum Huntzberger about sending Logan away and he tells her it is time for Logan to grow up. She does not disagree and later she and Logan have a tearful farewell. Meanwhile, Lorelai is upset when Luke when he refuses to elope. She spends the night with Christopher and the episode ends with a shot of her in bed with him.
Rory's friendships with long-time best friend Lane Kim (Keiko Agena)—a first-generation Korean American from a strict background—and Paris Geller (Liza Weil), a friend/rival at both Chilton and Yale, are also themes in the show.
- Mädchen Amick played Sherry, Christopher's former girlfriend and mother of his second child.
- Alex Borstein played Drella, the inn's harpist in season one, and returned in subsequent seasons as Emily's wardrobe advisor, Miss Celine. Borstein played Sookie in the series' original pilot; her real-life husband, Jackson Douglas, plays Sookie's on-screen husband.
- Joel Gion of the band Brian Jonestown Massacre played a tambourine-playing addition to Hep Alien in a reference to the film DiG!. (In the film, BJM brawls with themselves in front of record company reps at a showcase at the Viper Room, much like Hep Alien does in the episode.)
- Singer-composer Carole King played music store owner Sophie Bloom.
- Norman Mailer, Madeleine Albright, U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-California), and Paul Anka have appeared as themselves.
- Traci Lords played Emily's interior decorator, Natalie Zimmermann.
- Bruce McCulloch (The Kids in the Hall) played Tobin, night manager of the Independence Inn.
- Marion Ross played Lorelai 'Trix' Gilmore, Richard's mother (now deceased), and her niece Marilyn.
- Michael York played Yale professor and author Asher Flemming, now deceased.
- Sherilyn Fenn played Anna Nardini, Luke's ex-girlfriend and mother of his daughter, April (Vanessa Marano); Fenn played a separate character, Sasha, the girlfriend of Jess' father, Jimmy (Rob Estes) in a 2003 episode largely set in California that was a backdoor pilot for a Jess-centric series (Windward Circle) that was not picked up.
In addition to its fast-paced dialogue, Gilmore Girls is also known for the amount of cultural references made by the characters. The references, which may point to anything from movies, television shows, music and books to quotes from celebrities, are frequently quite obscure and thus seem to be understood only by the characters, reinforcing the image of their quick wit.
To help the viewer understand what the characters are talking about, The WB has included "Gilmore-isms" booklets in the DVD sets of the seasons. These sheets contain "the 411 on many of the show's pop culture references", along with comments from the show creators.
The "Gilmore-isms" booklets for seasons 2-5 can also be found on the Web by visiting http://www2.warnerbros.com/gilmoregirls/dvd/
Music plays a large part in the show. Most of the main or recurring characters on the show have had their musical tastes revealed at one time or another. Lorelai famously likes '80s music like that of The Bangles and The Go-Go's as well as Metallica, but Rory credits her with introducing her to new books and music throughout her life, and she and Rory often swap CDs.
Lane is a true audiophile, and her list of musical influences ran to five pages when she was writing her "drummer-seeks-rock-band" ad. David Bowie, the Ramones, Jackson Browne (Lane: "Ah, see, cool people know that he’s more than a mellow hippie-dippy folkie, that he actually wrote some of Nico’s best songs and was in fact her lover before he bored us with 'Doctor My Eyes.' That will separate the poseurs from the non-poseurs." —Season 3, Ep. 3 "Application Anxiety"), the Accelerators , The Adverts, Agent Orange, the Angelic Upstarts, and the Agnostic Front.
- Rory: You went alphabetically.
- Lane: Seemed tidy.
- —Season 3, Ep. 3 "Application Anxiety"
Lane's band, Hep Alien, plays rock with different influences, and Sebastian Bach, formerly of Skid Row, plays the band's guitarist.
The Bangles made a guest appearance in the Season 1 episode "Concert Interruptus" while The Shins guest-starred in the Season 4 episode "Girls in Bikinis, Boys Doin' the Twist" (also, their 2000 single "Know Your Onion!" is heard in season two "Like Mother, Like Daughter", while their album "Chutes Too Narrow" later appears). Carole King, who re-recorded her 1971 song "Where You Lead" as a duet with her daughter Louise Goffin as the Gilmore Girls theme song, appears occasionally as music store owner Sophie. The original score to the show is performed by Sam Phillips. Grant-Lee Phillips appears in at least one episode per season (up to season 6) as Grant, the town troubadour. Kim Gordon & Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth appeared in the 6th season finale along with their daughter Coco.
In 2002, a soundtrack to the show was released by Rhino Records, entitled Our Little Corner of the World: Music from Gilmore Girls. The CD cover of the album features anecdotes from show producers Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino covering the large part music has played in their lives.
Food and drink
Food is another important part of the show. Lorelai and Rory are coffee addicts and they love all kinds of junk food. (Ironically, actress Alexis Bledel hates coffee. What is truly in her coffee mug is soda, tea, or water.)
It is a running gag that the two of them can eat copious amounts of junk food but never seem to gain weight. When they aren't eating at Luke's Diner or having refined Friday night dinners at Emily and Richard's they often order pizza or take-out Chinese food. Sookie, the chef at the Inn, is very passionate about cooking and often obsesses over the menu. Lane Kim's mother, Mrs. Kim, is a fan of health food, and Luke's healthy eating habits are sometimes contrasted with Lorelai's junk-food diet.
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