I’m a big fan of the television series Gilmore Girls. Huge fan, actually. Yes, I know the characters speak at an incredibly quick and most likely unrealistic pace. And I know that – especially when compared to other series that have won my heart like Six Feet Under, Breaking Bad, Dexter, and The Walking Dead – it’s pretty wholesome and bordering on saccharine. But here’s the thing. It’s more than just a show for me. It’s the screen equivalent of comfort food. I’m emotionally connected to this show.
Weirdly enough, I don’t think I ever watched Gilmore Girls with any kind of dedication when it first aired. Nope. I stumbled across it in reruns during the most difficult time of my life.
I was 26 years old, freshly divorced after one year of marriage. I had moved back into my parents’ house. I was exhausted and depressed. My work as a high school teacher was a saving grace during the day, but when I’d arrive home at my parents’ house each late afternoon, I had to fight the urge to just go to bed immediately and sleep through my sorrows and struggles until the next morning. And so, attempting to seem “fine” and “normal” and to be awake when my parents got home so as not to cause further worry, I flipped through the channels, landed on Gilmore Girls, and was immediately hooked.
I watched Rory Gilmore navigate her high school years at Chilton, and I’d never needed a character more in my life. She was a mix of innocence and intelligence, of angst and bravery that, despite our ten-year age gap, I simply sunk into. Eventually, my mother started sitting with me to watch and became equally hooked. I’d reach for her hand during those Gilmore Girl sessions, and we’d talk and laugh about these characters’ lives at a time when it was so difficult to talk about the heavier stuff going on in my own life.
Time and therapy healed me. I worked some side jobs and saved up and bought my own place. I was working and dating and really enjoying life. I met my now husband and fell in love. He moved in. And, one year, I received all seven seasons of Gilmore Girls on DVD as a Christmas present from my parents. (Yes, DVDs. Can you conceive of a pre-Netflix existence!?)
Of course, I watched and watched and fell even more in love. The pop commentary, the clever quips, the agony of teenage love (#teamjessforever). The college years. Those Friday night dinners.
I discovered that nothing could get me through a 24-48 hour migraine like having Gilmore Girls running on a quiet loop in the corner.
Lorelai and Rory and Emily were the perfect background noise as I was doing endless homework while putting myself through a doctoral program.
And now, so many (many!) years later, as a wife and a mom of two little ones, Gilmore Girls is still there. I continue to cycle through those seven seasons (plus the reboot! #lovedit) during my dwindling free time. These days, there’s almost nothing better or more relaxing to me than taking a long, hot shower with Gilmore Girls on in the background. I’ve watched it so many times, the episodes are so familiar to me, that its presence is mostly a simple comfort. I relate much more to Lorelai now than to Rory. And I wait for the day, years and years from now, that my daughter might watch with me. I hope she wants to. I hope that she’ll think it’s cool to sit with her mother and eat Pop Tarts and chat about whether Rory should have slept with Dean, about Paris Gellar’s needless insecurities, about how, even though she’s a mom, Lorelai is flawed and just as capable of making mistakes as anyone else. I hope she knows that where she leads, I will follow (metaphorically speaking, of course. I’m not jumping off any crazy high scaffolding assembled by a college student, no matter how many enthusiastic declarations “In Omnia Paratus” are made.) All she’ll have to do is call my name, and I’ll be there on the next train. Just as my mom was for me, all those years ago, holding my hand on the couch and escaping with me into Stars Hollow.