Wednesday, May 16, 2007

"When you leave, I will follow / Anywhere that you tell me to..."

I've mentioned it and played it off for years, but it's time to come clean: I'm a fan of "Gilmore Girls." It's true. I say this with as little shame and/or guilt as possible. I, an unabashedly heterosexual man, am a fan of an undeniably girly hour-long WB/CW drama.

Last night was the series finale of the show, and I have to tell you, I was pretty sad. It occured to me to look at the clock during the last commercial break, and I was suddenly struck with the thought, "There's only ten more minutes of Gilmores ever." That bums me out.

So the show ended after seven years. There were eleventh-hour negotiations for a shortened eighth season, but they fell through for whatever reason that's being obscured and protected by the hordes of publicists and spokesfaces. And thus, what was supposed to be the season finale ended the show. I think they had a good idea that could happen, because the finale finished things up pretty well. Not perfectly, by any means, but pretty well.

So, as a tribute to this show I've been watching for the last 4 years or so straight through, here's a list of eight of my favorite things about "Gilmore Girls":

1) The "girls." Let's get this out of the way now--Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel are beautiful women. I used to play this off as the only reason I watched the show "from time to time," but it was so much more than that. They're both wonderful actresses, and I REALLY believed them as mother and daughter. They clearly enjoyed each other in every scene together, and the (in)famous rapid-fire dialogue between them could not be topped on the "banter" scale. And there were a few different times throughout the show where you couldn't help but be jealous of one or both of their suitors, because these characters would just be fun to know and spend time with.

2) The grandparents. Kelly Bishop and Edward Hermann were hilarious as Lorelai's parents and Rory's grandparents, Richard and Emily Gilmore. Emily's pompous propriety was a hilarious juxtaposition to Lorelai's more bohemian parenting style. Yet, as the episode with Richard's heart attack revealed, it is often a show to cover up her insecurity and dependence on her husband. One of the few really great moments from this much-maligned last season was her breakdown in the hospital when she's confronted with the thought of being something other than Richard's wife. As for Richard, he was so amiable and good-natured throughout that his few moments of pride and anger were shocking and effective. He was not a perfect man, but had I not the grandfathers I had, I'd want him to be mine.

3) Lane and Zach. Lane Kim was Rory's best friend, the rock-and-roll child of a fundamentalist Christian mother. While her mother's religion was more than a few times used as a punchline, Lane exemplified the struggle of growing up in a religious household while trying to be "cool." While I'm not totally down with all of Lane's choices or attitudes, I can certainly relate. Then, Lane married Zach, the lead singer/guitarist in their band, "Hep Alien." And Zach became one of my favorite characters. His dopey optimism and willingness to put up with some of Mrs. Kim's crazyness. His kindness and easygoing nature, that won over even the grouchy diner guy. And how he loves his wife! Zach was another one of my favorite parts of this past season.

3a) Sebastian Bach as one of Zach and Lane's bandmates. I never would have thought that a former 80's rocker would fit so perfectly into this show. But SB was so into the role and clearly had such a good time with it, he just lit up the screen every time he appeared.

4) Luke Danes, the "diner guy." Luke was such a great character. The gruff and impersonal exterior hiding a really kind man who just never had the chance to open his heart before. Somehow, the oddball antics of Lorelai were able to get through his armor. Two people could not be more different than, or more perfect for, each other. And the fans agonized every time something happened that pushed them apart. Finally, when they became a couple, we saw the kindness of Luke bloom, before the cruel ending of Season 6 that found Lorelai in the arms of Rory's father. Throughout the show, Luke grew and then regressed and then grew again. But the point of the most growth for Luke was the appearance of a daughter he never knew. Fans cringed at this turn of events (and many hated the daughter), but this sequence of episodes was able to show that not only could Luke be a loving boyfriend, but he could grow to be a real father--something you never would have thought from the somewhat-slovenly diner guy of Season 1. With April, all the paternal tendencies that Rory stirred up in Luke came to fruition and maturity. And in the end, FINALLY, Luke and Lorelai were reconciled. And while we didn't see the full return of their love, we were given a glimpse that these two had a future together.

5) Logan Huntzberger. Rory's last and best boyfriend. I didn't like Dean. I hated Jess (before he became Peter Petrelli!). But I liked Logan, ultimately. He started out a spoiled jerk, thoughtless, selfish, and charming. But he found in Rory someone worth pursuing, worth sacrificing for. He may not have fully matured, and he certainly made mistakes. But when all was said and done, he had left his father's employ and the promise of a cushy job in the family business, and decided to make his own way in the world. He had become more giving, more patient, more sincere, a little more humble. And even though Rory decided not to marry him, and they had to part ways, both Logan and Rory were better people from their relationship. And even if the show went on another year, I'd miss Logan, because he was one of the great examples on the show of how people can really change for the better.

6) The townsfolk. Seriously, was there a weirder band of misfits and goofballs on television? Taylor. Kirk. Miss Patty and Babbette. Lulu. Liz and TJ. Gypsy. Morey. Sookie. Jackson. Michel. Each with an individual personality and particular character quirk. And each one so fun to watch. You want to visit Stars Hollow and interact with these people. You want them to be your friends.

7) The setting. I've never lived in a small town. I've never lived in New England. Thanks to this show, I've gotten to enjoy the beauty of both.

8) The music. Granted, it was essentially "la la la la la la" for the most part, but Sam Phillips' light-hearted score and background tracks really set an emotional tone for the show. Plus, Grant-Lee Phillips as the town troubador? Awesome.


Okay, your turn. Time to step up and admit if you watched this show. What were your favorite characters/episodes/aspects of the series?

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