“The Pop-Tart tasted like freedom and rebellion and independence”.
And looking for a flavor to give this show, that could be how it would taste like. The everlasting WB series, which had a new surge of popularity during the pandemic, aired for the first time on the 5th of October of 2000. It kept going until 2007, followed by a new, conclusive Netflix miniseries in 2016: Gilmore Girls: a year in the life.
Lorelai (Lauren Graham) is an exuberant high school dropout in her thirties. She dreams of opening an Inn and has a daughter, Rory (Alexis Bledel), a smart and shy fifteen-year-old. They live in Stars Hollow, a tiny town in Connecticut, one of those places where everybody knows everything about everyone. It’s like an Olive Kitteridge-shaped village. They drink an enormous amount of coffee at Lukes’, pairing them with lots of hamburgers and Chinese food.
Lorelai had a complicated relationship with her parents. They belong to the American bourgeoisie: they’re rich and disappointed with how the daughter’s life has turned out to be. Lorelai left her house when she got pregnant, off to build her own life. However, at the beginning of the show, she is forced to see them once a week, every Friday evening, since she asked them to pay the tuition for a private school that Rory wishes to attend. The storyline follows these two young women who try to grow up together, between failed relationships and future dreams.
Gilmore Girls’ secret ingredient
The relationship that moves the show is quite ordinary: the one between a mother and a daughter. But they’re best friends, and this element is the topic.
“Gilmore Girls talks about a mother and a daughter who are best friends as well as being mother and daughter and every conflict and dynamic should ticktack back and forth on that one point”, said Amy Sherman-Palladino, creator and executive producer of the series. The result of this type of choice is a one-way result: a passionate and large audience, which counts those who have that relationship together with those who could wish to have it.
Lorelai and Rory’s young age carries along with it some issues that are typical for their stage of life, but it’s all unique because of characterization and style. The music they listen to, the books they read, the movies they watch: everything smells of pop, with a little classic aftertaste.
Life’s Short. Talk Fast. It’s one of the taglines of the series. In fact, one of the characteristics of the series that most distinguished it is the high speed of pace of protagonists dialogues. If an average script for a TV series is 50/55 pages long, Gilmore Girls has more than 80 pages each time. At the end of most of the takes, the response from George Bell, the man responsible for the dialogues, would be:
“That was great. Could we do it again, trying to Gilmore-ize it?”, “Speed it up. You’ve just got to speed it up”.
They were so fast-paced that both Lauren Graham (Lorelai) and Scott Patterson (Luke Danes) had to stop smoking to be able to play them. Moreover, the speed of the exchanges was so cadenced that even traditional editing turned out to be impossible. For this reason, the crew decided to place two characters in the frame and let them talk it out, with scenes filling five or ten pages of script, instead of the customary page and a quarter.
Its rapid and witty banter stands in counterpoint to the slow success of the series. Aired in a period that celebrated middle-aged masculine antiheroes like Tony Soprano, Gilmore Girls never received a boom of attention from the audience or the critic. At least not as soon as it came out. Another reason, maybe, is the girlie aura that, in the beginning, tricked the male audience into avoiding it. Nevertheless, it managed to fight the passing of time and preconceptions, becoming a must also between young audiences who (re)discovered it during the pandemic.
“Make the big look small, and the small look big”.
That is the mantra of Amy Sherman-Palladino. Two girls in a tiny town as the ideal worldwide model of mothers and daughters is the perfect proof of a compelling and successful narration for TV, an everlasting flavor made of friendship and love.