It’s almost time! Over this Thanksgiving weekend, traditional turkeys and pumpkin spice lattes will give way to deep-fried Thanksgiving turkeys, hay bale mazes, small-town quirks (its eccentric inhabitants and troubadours included), copious amounts of coffee, and the wittiest mother-daughter duo taking on the world - one quip and pop culture reference at a time. If you’re anything like us, you’re waiting for the Gilmore Girls revival on Netflix, aptly titled Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. As a throwback to the mad goodness that was the original series, and as a guide to those who haven’t watched it until now (peasants!), we have here a synopsis of all seven seasons, as well as other bits of knowledge and trivia from each season. Tune your balalaikas and hear us roar!
Timeline: Rory’s sophomore year in high school.
Plot: This is where we’re introduced to the mile-a-minute fast talking Lorelai (played with perfection by Lauren Graham) and her precocious bookish daughter, Rory (a then little known Alexis Bledel). Pregnant with Rory at age 16, Lorelai ran away from her privileged, private school upbringing and her fairly conservative parents to work as a maid at an inn in Stars Hollow, a small town where everyone knows each other, looks out for one another; where being quirky is almost a prerequisite. Lorelai has always been rebellious, and while that trait (along with the teenage pregnancy) led to a lifelong rift with her parents, it also gave her the freedom to raise Rory liberally, and unfettered by societal pressures. We immediately know that the two are like best friends: they do almost everything together, binge on junk food, watch a ton of classic movies and engage in other esoteric shenanigans.
Rory gets into Chilton, a fancy (cough, expensive) private school. Knowing the impossibility of paying Chilton’s tuition fees on her inn manager salary, Lorelai is forced to ask help (read money) from her estranged parents. The elder Gilmores (Emily and Richard) agree to pay for Rory’s tuition, and seizing the opportunity to mend ties with their daughter and granddaughter and bring them back into their lives, insist that Lorelai and Rory come for dinner every Friday night to their place. What ensues is a remarkable family dynamic, the legendary Friday night dinners unwrapping every tightly-wound layer of this dynamic each week. We see Rory struggle through Chilton, make a lifelong frenemy in Paris, fall in love; we see Lorelai struggle with her parents, confess her lifelong dependence on coffee, and fall in love. In the process, we also learn more about the charmingly mad Stars Hollow world and its equally charmingly mad inhabitants.
Important characters, besides the two main leads: Emily and Richard Gilmore (Kelly Bishop and the late Edward Herrmann); Lorelai’s best friend and chef at the inn, Sookie (a-long-before-Bridesmaids Melissa McCarthy); Luke Danes (Scott Patterson), the owner of their regular hangout, Luke’s Diner, and the creator of the best coffee in the world; and Lane Kim (Keiko Agena) as Rory’s Korean-origin musically inclined best friend.
Side characters: Paris Geller (Liza Weil); Tristan Dugray (Chad Michael Murray), a Chilton jerk who torments Rory (calling her “Mary”) even though he has a crush on her; Michel (Yanic Truesdale), the cranky and grumpy French concierge at the Independence Inn, Kirk Gleason (Sean Gunn) who’s the oddest person in Stars Hollow, and Mrs. Kim (Emily Kuroda) as Lane’s God-fearing, Bible-quoting mother.
1. Dean (Jared Padalecki): Rory’s first boyfriend, Dean is tall, dark, and simple. He builds her a car, so there’s that.
2. Max Medina (Scott Cohen): Rory’s teacher, who Lorelai dates and then gets engaged to when he proposes to her with a thousand yellow daisies.
3. Luke: Lorelai’s true soulmate, and maker of a Santa burger just so Lorelai feels festive.
4. Christopher (David Sutcliffe): Rory’s birth father, Christopher looks, talks, and rides in on his bike as bad news. Period.
Best episode: Episode 1, The Pilot
Julie Andrews said that the beginning is a very good place to start, so that’s what we’ll do: go back to the beginning.
Best quote: “Does he have a motorcycle? Because if you’re going to throw your life away, he’d better have a motorcycle” — Lorelai to Rory, who in the throes of a fresh romance with Dean, suddenly doesn’t want to go to Chilton anymore. After all the trouble Lorelai went through to pay Rory’s tuition there. Especially ironic because Christopher rides a motorcycle.
Plenty of pop culture references and fast talking + Rory’s car being hit by a deer = Great first season.
Timeline: Rory’s junior year at Chilton.
Plot: Rory settles into Chilton pretty well, even reveling in her “frenemicious” relationship with alpha girl Paris. It’s her relationship with Dean that suffers, thanks to Jess (Luke’s bad-boy nephew who gets sent to Stars Hollow to straighten up). Jess is a reader, something that immediately gets him major brownie points from Rory. You can clearly see their teenage, book-centric banter blossoming into something more, even though Rory denies it. Lorelai and Sookie decide to go ahead with plans for their own inn, Lorelai gets a business degree, and at her graduation, Emily and Richard weep elite tears seeing how far their daughter’s come. Jess gets Rory into a car accident, leaves town, and then comes back. Lorelai and Christopher hook up, hinting at a possible future together, only to have it shattered in the last episode when Christopher finds out his girlfriend (who he’d broken up with) is pregnant with his baby. Rory kisses Jess while she’s with Dean; this happens at Sookie’s wedding. Yeah, and Sookie gets married to Jackson (her vegetable vendor).
Side characters: Sherry: Christopher’s annoyingly perfect girlfriend; Mia: the owner of the Independence Inn who took Lorelai in as a teenager mother; and Jackson Belleville: the guy who sells Sookie her strawberries, blueberries, tomatoes etc. (and sometimes his famous cross-pollination creations such as “Rasquat”, which is a raspberry and kumquat mix!).
Love interest: Jess, Jess, Jess!
Best episode: Episode 10, The Bracebridge Dinner
A historical dinner at the inn gets cancelled due to a blizzard. In order to not waste Sookie’s delish (already-prepared) food, she and Lorelai decide to host their friends and family at the inn. Hilarity (and some flirting) ensues.
Paris: You look like little birds help you get dressed in the morning.
Rory: Hey, I haven’t been dressed by a bird since I was two!
A great start to the season, with a road trip to Harvard. Terrific season finale. And this is the season that gave us the legendary, “Oy, with the poodles already!”
Timeline: Rory’s senior year at Chilton + the big decision (lifelong dream Harvard or grandfather’s alma mater Yale?).
Plot: Feeling overly-sheltered by her mom, much of this season has Rory overcompensating for this by bulking up her résumé before graduation (which includes volunteering to build a house with the pink-feather wrapped hammer Lorelai gifts her, and being veep to Paris’ president in the Chilton student body elections). Dean breaks up with Rory, she and Jess start dating, Emily and Richard try their best to tip Rory toward Yale, Lorelai flips out at her parents when Rory ultimately decides on Yale, but they resolve it all to go on their long-awaited road trip through Europe after Rory’s graduation. And..Lane starts dating the sweetest, Christian-hymn-playing-even-though-he’s-Jewish-but-does-it-because-he-likes-Lane Dave Rygalski (a pre-OC Adam Brody).
Side characters: Francie: a Chilton bully who tries to spike Rory and Paris’ burgeoning friendship; Jackson; Nicole: who’s Luke’s girlfriend for a while and a lawyer (!); Peyton (a douchey, pre-Mad Men Jon Hamm), who goes on one date with Lorelai; Alex: Lorelai’s boyfriend for a few episodes, who doesn’t seem to have much in common with her besides their love for coffee; Lindsay: Dean’s homely blonde girlfriend and eventual fiancee; and Dave (sigh).
Love interests: First Dean then Jess, for Rory; dreamy Dave for Lane; a few inconsequential ones for Lorelai; even more inconsequential ones for Luke.
Best episode: Many fans consider episode 7 (“They Shoot Gilmores, Don’t They?”) as the best episode of the entire series, possibly because a bunch of long-awaited things come to a head at the annual Stars Hollow Dance Marathon, with Dean publicly breaking up with Rory, her and Jess moving towards being a couple, and Lorelai losing the marathon (once again) to Kirk. It’s small-town drama at its best. Our favourite episode, though, is the season finale, “Those Are Strings, Pinocchio”; at the end of which, Rory manages to alter the course of their lives for the next few years by making a deal with her grandparents, thereby securing Yale for herself and the Dragonfly Inn for her mother. And she does this just in time to make a heavily book-referenced graduation speech as a Chilton valedictorian, using her words as an ode to her grandparents and especially her “guidepost for everything”: Lorelai.
“I live in two worlds: one is a world of books….”
Best quote:I’ve got the good kid — Lorelai.
A dance marathon, a deep-fried Korean Thanksgiving, AND an Edgar Allen Poe reenactment. Enough said!
Timeline: Rory’s at Yale!
Plot: Rory leaves the nest, leaving Lorelai feeling empty and restless. Adjustment required for both. Paris is back in Rory’s life as her roommate, Lorelai renovates the Dragonfly Inn, Sookie’s pregnant and hence not of much help, Richard and Emily have marital troubles, and Richard starts a business with Jason (Chris Eigeman), the son of his professional enemy. Rory loses her virginity to a still-married Dean (gasp!), and Lorelai and Luke (L&L) finally kiss! Drama!
Side characters: Marty: Rory’s kinda wimpy friend from Yale who has an unrequited crush on her. Liz Danes: Luke’s hairbrained sister and Jess’ mother.
Love interests: LUKE!! FINALLY!! Yes, we’re screaming! Then there’s Dean. And Marty’s friendzoned whimpering stares at Rory don’t really qualify as a love interest, but oh well.
Best episode: Episode 2, The Lorelais’ First Day at Yale
Rory moving out is bittersweet, but this episode works well not despite it but because of it. It shows us, for the first time, what the next few years are going to feel like. When Rory feels homesick and Lorelai comes back to spend just one pizza-for-everyone night at the dorm, we know everything will be okay. Plus, there’s the Yale mattress filled with microbes.
My mother — she was here. I can feel it. Smell that? The room smells like guilt and Chanel No. 5 — Lorelai (of course).
Solid start. Great finale. And this is the season where Luke “sees Lorelai’s face”.
Timeline: Rory’s sophomore year at Yale + the beginning of L&L.
Plot: Enter Logan Huntzberger (a devilishly charming Matt Czuchry) as the reluctant heir to a wealthy, privileged family. His entitled ways are the complete opposite of what Rory was raised with. They attend Quentin Tarantino-themed parties, start dating, and Rory (who’s been interning with Logan’s father Mitchum) has a severe breakdown after a performance review where Mitchum tells her she hasn’t got what it takes to be a journalist. By the end of the season, Rory’s got a criminal record on her file (she steals a yacht!), causing an irreparable rift between her mother and grandparents. And Lorelai proposes to Luke. Say what?
Important characters, besides the leads: Logan.
Side characters: Mitchum and Shira: Logan’s parents who think Rory’s not good enough for their family (or to be a journalist); TJ: Liz’s husband and Luke’s irritating brother-in-law.
Love interests: Luke. Logan.
Episode 3, Written in the Stars: L&L’s first date, when he shows her the horoscope she once gave him and asked him to keep it. He carries it with him in his wallet. He then tells her he’s “all in.” Can we get a collective “aawww” please?
Episode 7, You Jump, I Jump, Jack: The Life and Death Brigade. Rory and Logan jumping off a high scaffolding with an umbrella and a tether. With Rory in a ball gown, natch!
Episode 10, But Not as Cute as Pushkin: When Logan and his friends pull a prank to embarrass Rory in class, she brings out the big gun: Richard. Thoroughly entertaining. And funny. Also, “buttface miscreant.”
I want to live my life so that I’ll be able to read an in-depth biography about myself in later years and not puke — (the one and only) Paris Geller.
This season has everything going for it. It’s SO the kind of season the creators can watch in later years and not puke.
Timeline: (What should’ve been) Rory’s junior year at Yale.
Plot: Lorelai and Rory are feuding! Following her arrest at the end of season 5, Rory drops out of Yale, moves in with her grandparents (in their pool house), starts working for the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), and generally tries to live it up with Logan and his entitled friends. L&L are engaged (and heading to a slow relationship death), just as Luke finds out about a 12-year-old love child he never knew about. Shit goes down, until a revamped and successful Jess knocks some sense back into Rory’s pretty little head. Just in time to throw Logan a British-themed going away party (family business, London). Lorelai, unsure of where things stand with her and Luke, sleeps with Christopher. Hell comes very close to freezing over!
Side characters: April: Luke’s daughter; Anna: Luke’s ex-girlfriend and April’s mother, who never mentioned said daughter to him; Doyle: Paris’s boyfriend and the former editor of the Yale Daily News; and Paul Anka (Lorelai’s shaggy dog).
Love interest: Christopher (conveniently) re-enters the picture (ugh!).
Best episode: Episode 9, The Prodigal Daughter Returns
The episode description says it all: “Like meat and potatoes, like salt and tomatoes, the Gilmore girls belong together. Rory comes home.” Her phone call to Lorelai saying she’s heading back to Yale, just as she pulls into their old driveway = goosebumps!
Best quote:I want to get the healthy glow of someone who goes consistently to the gym without actually having to go of course — Kirk.
To have a former male love interest return, not to be with one of the female leads, but to merely further her character arc, is so feminist. We can’t even!
Timeline: Rory’s senior year at Yale.
Plot: It’s the season post-L&L. It’s the season without writers Amy and Dan Sherman Palladino. It’s the season with Luke’s daughter’s continued annoying presence. It’s also the season with Christopher’s continued pointless presence. He proposes to Lorelai, they get married in Paris (don’t worry...they don’t stay together). Rory’s graduating, looking for jobs, meeting Christiane Amanpour, and trying to decipher Logan’s long distance metaphorical gifts. And Lorelai serenades Luke!
Side characters: Lucy and Olivia: Rory’s annoying new friends at Yale and a huge step down from her usual girl squad (i.e. Lane, Paris); Gigi: Christopher’s young daughter with Sherry.
Best episode: Episode 22, Bon Voyage (series finale).
Ah, the nostalgia. The memories. Rory off to cover “senator” Barack Obama’s campaign trail. God, we’re old!
Best quote:I'm fast...I'm the perfect storm of caffeine and genetics. Ha! — Lorelai.
The dialogue throughout the season was forced. Which was unfortunate for such a terrifically well-written show until then.
Well, at least we have the revival. Two days to go...
Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life premieres on Netflix this weekend