“In the parade of stupid and dumb, I’m the one twirling the flaming baton.”
-Lauren Graham as Lorelai Gilmore
When I first learned I was pregnant, I was with a friend who had raised four boys, both with her partner and alone, after they divorced. I remember sitting in a coffee shop across from her, drinking tea, my eyes rimmed with tears, asking her, “What should I do?” I was not married and the father of my dividing cells lived in a foreign country. I wasn’t sixteen like Lorelai Gilmore but I had no idea how to take the next step.
“I can’t answer that,” my friend said. “But you definitely have a great support system around you, and if there is anyone who can be a single parent, it’s you.” She was right. Twenty years later, through the efforts of pretty much everyone who loved us, that cell explosion is freestanding and in college.
Amy Sherman-Palladino, the creator of Gilmore Girls, got that community right in Stars Hollow. Yes, she made it a whole lot more quirky than my burg of South Austin (although I bet I could exaggerate a few of my neighbors on the page and give Stars Hollow a run for its money) but she wove that world of Stars Hollow characters around this single mom Lorelai Gilmore and her daughter Rory so they could stretch and grow over seven seasons. In her weaving, Sherman-Palladino did a very smart thing: She made the big moments small and the small moments big. That’s how life is. We create over-the-top birthday parties for our one and only beloved child but what touches us is the birthday candlelight on her face.
My daughter and I came to G2 after it had been on for a while. We rented the early seasons from Vulcan Video and then watched the seventh and last season live during her last year of elementary school. Both of us loved the rapid fire, funny dialogue (scripts for most TV shows of that length are 40 – 50 pages long, Gilmore Girls scripts were known to hit 80 pages). I loved how the writers laced the script with cultural references–1552 over the seven seasons–from books, songs, movies and tv shows. This clip shows all the references from the first season alone:
Come on don’t you feel wittier and culturally smarter? And holy crap, that’s just Season One. Of course, I did the mom thing of asking my daughter if she understood a reference: “Honey, do you know who David Foster Wallace is?” TV as teaching moments.
Plus, I ascribed a whole lot of personal significance to the show. What could be better than having your daughter watch a college bound, pro/con list maker like Rory whose heroine (besides her mother) is Christiane Amanpour?
Wait, I know. Having her watch a single mother like Lorelai who flails in her romantic life yet manages to keep her priorities of raising her child and achieving her dream of owning and running an inn straight. Forgive me my missteps in love. I managed to never abandon my child and keep writing and publishing. If my daughter understands me a little better after watching the Girls, thank you, Amy Sherman-Palladino.
In short, these two women became very real to us. This weekend, my daughter and I will be tucked in together watching this other mom and daughter in the four-episode conclusion. In a weird way, watching will be like remembering where we were when we met these characters. Their memories are our memories. I suspect there might be some maudlin, sentimental moments in the forthcoming 360 minutes. I’m good with that. We get to linger in the goodbye. It’s a luxury we aren’t often afforded.