An Ode to Gilmore Girls

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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.

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Elizabeth Bettencourt holds a BFA in Theatre and a BS in Secondary English Education from the University of Rhode Island, a Masters in Reading & Literacy from Endicott College, and a Doctorate in Education from Northeastern University. Prior to becoming a stay-at-home parent full time, Liz taught English Language Arts and theatre at Plymouth South High School, where she also served as the ELA department head and the drama club advisor. Liz has also worked as an instructional coach and education consultant specializing in literacy instruction and differentiated instruction. In addition to her work as a mother, Liz currently directs theatre productions for Massassoit Community College and serves on the board of directors for New Bedford Festival Theatre. The majority of her time, however, is spent raising her son James and daughter Muriel with the help of her super supportive spouse, Matt. Liz is excited to be a part of the team at Providence Moms Blog, where she hopes to refresh her writing skills and reflect on this crazy and beautiful thing that is motherhood.

6 COMMENTS

  1. I completely understand! Gilmore Girls is what I watched while in labor all night with my daughter, and in the first few weeks of having an infant. You are not alone with the special Gilmore connection!

  2. OMG! Yes!!! How could I have left this out??? I also watched GG allllllll night long while in labor with my daughter!

    • I have a BS in secondary Ed too! GG has been the comfort food I never knew I needed at a time when I was craving something but not sure what to eat. It has made me laugh on some pretty dark days. You might be my spirit animal. Thanks for penning what was in my heart but I felt too silly to say about a show.

  3. Thank you, Elizabeth for this honest and sweet story. As I enter my Emily years I completely relate to the realness and comfort you describe. I also found the Gilmore Girls at a very difficult time in my life. The rug was completely pulled out from under me all at once on many levels. My father, who was my best friend, had a catastrophic stroke the same week I became an empty nester, unemployed, child support stopped and an 8 year relationship broke up. Like an empty shell of a person, I sold my home in NJ and moved to be near my dad in FL who was now paralyzed and without speech. I wanted to be with him as much as possible. I was lucky to have him another 2.5 years. In that time I comforted myself with the Gilmore Girls. I found some grit and started my own business. I told my dad about the show and he agreed to watch. He and my mom LOVED the first episode so we rolled right into a binge. They would clap as the theme song played and I swear I would well up with tears. Dad loved the show until the day he died watching every day. He was invested in all of the characters and I have a treasure trove of memories of watching the show together. Dad is gone. I miss him every day and I live to honor him. My business is doing very well and I know he is proud where he is. The Gilmore Girls reboot came out a few months after he passed so there were a lot of tears watching the family deal with Richard’s passing. I too watch for comfort and peace now, which is funny because my other go-to is Clear & Present Danger. The Gilmore Girls is a clever and sneaky little show that gets into your heart and does not leave. xoxo

  4. Patty, thanks for sharing your beautiful story. Your last sentence is so, so true!

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