|Created by||Amy Sherman-Palladino|
|Opening theme||"Where You Lead" by Carole King and Louise Goffin|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||7|
|No. of episodes||153 (list of episodes)|
|Production locations||Burbank, California|
|Running time||39–45 minutes|
|Distributor||Warner Bros. Television Distribution|
|Original release||October 5, 2000 –|
May 15, 2007
|Followed by||Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life|
Gilmore Girls is an American comedy-drama television series created by Amy Sherman-Palladino and starring Lauren Graham (Lorelai Gilmore) and Alexis Bledel (Rory Gilmore). The show debuted on October 5, 2000, on The WB and became a flagship series for the network. Gilmore Girls ran for seven seasons, the final season moving to The CW and ending its run on May 15, 2007. Critics praised Gilmore Girls for its witty dialogue, cross-generational appeal, and effective mix of humor and drama. It never drew large ratings, but was a relative success for The WB, peaking during season five as the network's second most-popular show. The series has been in daily syndication since 2004, while a growing following has led to its status as a cult classic. Since going off the air, Gilmore Girls has been cited in TV (The Book) and Time magazine as one of the 100 greatest television shows of all time. In 2016, the main cast and Sherman-Palladino returned for the four-part miniseries revival Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, which streamed on Netflix and later aired on The CW.
The series has two protagonists: witty "thirty-something" mother Lorelai Gilmore and her intellectual teenage daughter Rory (short for Lorelai). Their backstory is established early in the show: Lorelai grew up in Hartford with her old money parents, Richard and Emily, but always felt stifled in this environment. After Lorelai became pregnant with Rory at 16, by her childhood boyfriend Christopher Hayden her feelings of familial alienation increased. This eventually motivated her to take one-year-old Rory away to a close-knit town named Stars Hollow. Lorelai found work and shelter at the Independence Inn as a maid, eventually working her way up to executive manager. Over the years, Lorelai and Rory develop a very close relationship, living like best friends rather than as typical mother-daughter. Lorelai is proud of the independent life she has forged away from her parents. In the pilot episode, however, she is forced to go to them for financial aid after Rory is admitted to Chilton Preparatory School, because she cannot afford the tuition fees. Emily and Richard agree to provide a loan, so long as the girls join them every Friday night for dinner. This sets up one of the show's primary, ongoing conflicts: the Gilmore family is forced to face their differences and complicated past, their interactions fueled by these weekly Friday night dinners together. The contrasting mother-daughter relationships of Emily–Lorelai and Lorelai–Rory become a defining theme of the show and a lens through which many of the female relationships are viewed. Series creator Amy Sherman-Palladino has summarized the core of Gilmore Girls:
I think the theme was always family and connection. I always felt like the underlying thing about Gilmore was that, if you happened to be born into a family that doesn't really understand you, go out and make your own. That's what Lorelai did. She went out and she made her own family. The ironic twist in her life is that then this daughter that she created this half family for, likes the family that she left. It was a cycle of crazy family.
The series also focuses on both girls' ambition: Rory to attend Harvard University and become a journalist, and Lorelai to open an inn with her best friend Sookie St. James. The romantic relationships of the protagonists are another key feature; throughout the series, Lorelai has a "will-they-won't-they" dynamic with her friend, local diner owner Luke Danes, while also harboring unresolved feelings for Rory's father, Christopher. Lorelai also develops temporary relationships with Rory's English literature teacher, Max Medina, to whom she was engaged at one point, and Jason "Digger" Stiles, whom she has known since childhood. In between these relationships, she dates a few other men, Alex Lesman whom Lorelai meets through her best friend Sookie St. James, Peyton Sanders whom she meets at a function hosted by her mother, Emily, and Paul, a younger guy with whom Lorelai has a business class. Rory's romantic journey throughout the show is based on the adolescent experiences of first-loves, flings, crushes, and college dates. While Rory has three committed boyfriends over the course of the show—local new-kid Dean Forrester; mysterious, well-read bad boy Jess Mariano; and wealthy, charismatic Logan Huntzberger—she also has brief, romantically charged relationships with men whose love is unrequited: fellow Chilton student Tristin Dugray and Rory's only "guy-bestie" at Yale, Marty. Throughout the series one of the main characters and Rory's best friend, Lane Kim's love life is followed in addition to Lorelai and Rory's. As the daughter of Mrs. Kim, a very strict, religious, and protective Korean immigrant, Lane struggles to hide her love for rock music and other aspects of pop-culture from her mother, including dating. While Mrs. Kim repeatedly tries to find Lane a future Korean husband who is medical school-bound, she dates Henry Cho, one of Rory's Chilton classmates, Dave Rygalski, the guitarist in Lane's secret band, and Zach Van Gerbig, the lead singer of the same band whom she later marries.
The quirky townspeople of Stars Hollow are a constant presence. Along with series-long and season-long arcs, Gilmore Girls is also episodic in nature, with mini-plots within each episode—such as town festivals, issues at Lorelai's inn, or school projects of Rory's.
One writer later said that the brief given to the writing room at the outset was "This show is 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."
|First aired||Last aired||Network|
|1||21||October 5, 2000||May 10, 2001||The WB|
|2||22||October 9, 2001||May 21, 2002|
|3||22||September 24, 2002||May 20, 2003|
|4||22||September 23, 2003||May 18, 2004|
|5||22||September 21, 2004||May 17, 2005|
|6||22||September 13, 2005||May 9, 2006|
|7||22||September 26, 2006||May 15, 2007||The CW|
Rory is accepted to Chilton, a private school that would get her to her lifelong dream; to study at Harvard. Because of the heavy price tag the private school comes with, Lorelai talks to her wealthy parents, whom she hasn't communicated with for a long time. Emily and Richard do agree to pay for the tuition, although there is a catch; that Lorelai and Rory would have Friday night dinners with them. Rory has a difficult time settling in at Chilton, struggling to match the demands of private school and attracting the fury of classmate Paris Geller, her academic rival. She meets her first boyfriend, Dean, but the pair break up when Rory doesn't reciprocate his, "I love you" - instead saying "thank you". After being romantically pursued by Rory's teacher, Max Medina, Lorelai decides with a conflicted heart to give the relationship a chance. This dynamic creates some tension between Lorelai and Rory. At the same time, Lorelai harbors a close friendship with the local diner owner Luke Danes, and several people comment on their mutual attraction—but Lorelai is in denial and Luke doesn't act on it. Rory's father, Christopher Hayden, returns and also wants to be with Lorelai but she tells him he is too immature for family life. All the while, Lorelai struggles to adjust to having her parents in her life on a regular basis. Emily and Richard enjoy developing a relationship with their granddaughter, but also realize how much they have missed. The season ends with Rory reuniting with Dean, and Max proposing to Lorelai.
Lorelai accepts Max's proposal, but realizes shortly before the wedding that it doesn't feel right and they break up. She and Sookie get excited about opening their own business at the dilapidated Dragonfly Inn but the owner refuses to sell. Sookie gets engaged to Jackson Belleville, a local farmer. Luke's teenage nephew, Jess Mariano, comes to live under his care. Jess is sullen and angry with everyone apart from Rory. The two strike up a friendship, causing jealousy in Dean. Lorelai is disapproving of their closeness, labeling Jess as a bad influence, especially when they are in a car accident which leads to a blow-up with Luke. Richard announces that he has retired but soon becomes bored and sets up his own insurance company. Christopher appears to have his life together and Lorelai decides to reunite with him. But at Sookie's wedding Christopher learns that his recently estranged fiancée is pregnant and decides to return to her, leaving Lorelai heartbroken. Meanwhile, Rory impulsively kisses Jess.
Rory's attraction to Jess grows stronger, and she gets jealous when he teases her with a new girlfriend. Dean can't ignore what is going on, and eventually ends their relationship. Rory and Jess immediately become a couple. Meanwhile, she and Paris spend the year as Student Body Presidents at Chilton and both submit applications to Harvard University. Paris is devastated when she doesn't get in. Rory is accepted but decides to attend Yale University instead, much to Emily and Richard's delight. The Independence Inn is badly damaged in a fire, but Lorelai and Sookie are able to buy the Dragonfly when its elderly owner dies. Jess pressures Rory to have sex with him, which leads to a fight between Dean and Jess. Luke begins dating a lawyer named Nicole. Lane Kim, Rory's best friend, starts a band called Hep Alien and tries to convince her strict mother to let her date the guitarist, Dave, while keeping the band secret. As the season ends, Jess abruptly leaves Stars Hollow to track down his estranged father in California, and Rory graduates high school as valedictorian.
Rory starts her college education at Yale, with Paris – now a friend – as her roommate. Both start working for the Yale Daily News. Rory is surprised when Dean quickly marries his new girlfriend Lindsey. The pair grow closer again over the season, leading Rory to turn down Jess when he returns and declares his love. Lorelai spends the season renovating the Dragonfly Inn in preparation for its opening, along with Sookie and their colleague Michel. She also begins a relationship with Richard's new business partner, Jason Stiles, which she keeps secret from her parents. Lane's mother learns about Hep Alien and throws her out of the house. Sookie and Jackson have a son. Lorelai and Jason break up after Jason sues Richard for leaving their partnership and Lorelai sides with her father. Emily feels neglected by Richard and the two separate, with Richard moving into the pool house. Luke and Nicole elope during a cruise, but quickly decide to divorce. Towards the end of the season, Luke accepts that he is in love with Lorelai and begins wooing her. The pair finally kiss on the Dragonfly's opening night, while Rory loses her virginity to a married Dean.
Rory embarks on a European trip with Emily and seldom speaks with Lorelai. When she returns, she reunites with her mother after apologizing for her affair with Dean. Lorelai and Luke start a relationship. Emily and Richard – who reunite and renew their wedding vows – disapprove and Emily interferes by telling Christopher to try to win her back. Christopher shows up at Emily and Richard's vow renewal professing his love for Lorelai, which overwhelms Luke, resulting in a brief separation between him and Lorelai and a major argument between Lorelai and Emily. Rory attempts to progress her relationship with Dean after he separated from his wife when she found out about the affair, but it soon ends when he realizes how different their lives are. She falls for Logan Huntzberger, a wealthy playboy Yale student whose parents think she is beneath him. Lane starts a relationship with her bandmate Zack and Paris starts a relationship with Yale Daily News editor Doyle. Sookie gives birth to her daughter, Martha. Rory gets an internship at Logan's father's newspaper but is deflated when he tells her she "doesn't have it." Rory lashes out due to this and she and Logan are arrested for stealing a yacht, after which Rory announces that she is quitting Yale and moves in with her grandparents at their pool house. When Lorelai sees how supportive Luke is over the situation, she asks him to marry her.
Lorelai is devastated by Rory's actions but insists that she can't force her back to Yale: it's a decision Rory must make for herself. Mother and daughter don't speak for six months. Rory has to complete community service and Emily gets her a job with the DAR. Richard becomes concerned but eventually, after encouragement from Jess, Rory returns to Yale and reunites with Lorelai. She replaces Paris as editor of the Yale Daily News, which causes issues in their friendship, and after a short separation from Logan the relationship gets serious. Rory is crushed when Logan's father sends him to work in London. Hep Alien disband then come back together; Lane and Zack get married. Lorelai plans a wedding with Luke, but things get difficult when Luke learns that he has a 12-year-old daughter named April. He starts building a relationship with her but keeps Lorelai separate. Lorelai tries to accept this but eventually snaps and issues him an ultimatum. When he doesn't agree to elope, Lorelai goes to Christopher for comfort.
Lorelai and Luke officially split when she tells him she slept with Christopher. Before much time has passed, Christopher convinces Lorelai to try a relationship. Christopher receives a letter from Sherry Tinsdale. Sherry is Christopher's ex-girlfriend and the mother of his second child, Georgia. The letter states she wants to be a part of Georgia's life again and requests that she spend time with her in Paris. Lorelai and Christopher decide to go with Georgia to get her settled. The pair spontaneously marry during the trip in Paris, but Lorelai soon accepts that it isn't right and they divorce, though the divorce is never shown or mentioned subsequently. Luke has a custody battle over April, after her mother moves them to New Mexico, and wins the right to see her during holidays. Lane and Zack have twins, and Sookie becomes pregnant again. Rory completes her final year of college. She and Logan spend half the season in a long-distance relationship until he eventually moves back to New York. He proposes, but Rory says that she wants to keep her options open, which leads to their separation. She panics about what she will do after graduating; following some rejection, she gets a job reporting on the Barack Obama campaign trail. Stars Hollow throws a surprise goodbye party for Rory. When Lorelai finds out that Luke organized it, the pair reconcile with a kiss. Lorelai promises Emily that she will continue attending Friday Night Dinners. Before Lorelai and Rory have to say goodbye, they have one last breakfast at Luke's Diner.
A Year in the Life
Nine years after the end of the original series, Netflix produced a Gilmore Girls revival miniseries. Rory is struggling in her journalism career and having a no-strings-attached, secret affair with Logan in London, while technically having a boyfriend named Paul that she often forgets about. While Logan is engaged to be married, the two of them can't seem to stay apart. Lorelai and Luke live together but are still having communication problems. Richard has recently died of a heart attack, which causes tension between Lorelai and Emily, and they end up in joint therapy. Lorelai starts to question her life, so she travels to California with intentions to hike the Pacific Crest Trail, where she has an epiphany: she fixes the rift with Emily by recounting a happy story about Richard, and goes home to propose to Luke. Emily decides to sell the Gilmore mansion and move to Nantucket, where she starts working in a museum. After encouragement from Jess, Rory decides to write a book about her life called "Gilmore Girls". After Luke and Lorelai marry, Rory tells her mom that she is pregnant.
Cast and characters
- Lauren Graham as Lorelai Gilmore: Independent, 30-something single mom who runs a local inn with a deep love for pop-culture and coffee.
- Alexis Bledel as Rory Gilmore: Precocious and driven only-daughter of Lorelai, almost 16 at the start of the show.
- Melissa McCarthy as Sookie St. James: Lorelai's chirpy best friend and chef/co-owner at the inn.
- Keiko Agena as Lane Kim: Rory's best friend who lives a secret life, defying her strict, religious mother by becoming a rocker.
- Yanic Truesdale as Michel Gerard: The grumpy French concierge at Lorelai and Sookie's inn.
- Scott Patterson as Luke Danes: Grouchy but kind-hearted diner owner; Lorelai's friend and eventual love interest.
- Kelly Bishop as Emily Gilmore: Matriarch of the Gilmore family, who lives as a high society housewife.
- Edward Herrmann as Richard Gilmore: Intellectual patriarch of the Gilmore family, who works in insurance.[a]
- Liza Weil as Paris Geller: Rory's feisty nemesis and eventual friend throughout high school and college. (main seasons 2–7; recurring season 1)
- Jared Padalecki as Dean Forester: Rory's season 1–3 boyfriend, who moved to Stars Hollow from Chicago. (main seasons 2–3; recurring seasons 1, 4–5)
- Milo Ventimiglia as Jess Mariano: Luke's troubled nephew who falls for Rory and becomes an intense but short-lived boyfriend. (main seasons 2–3; recurring season 4; guest seasons 6)
- Sean Gunn as Kirk Gleason:[b] Quirky resident of Stars Hollow who works numerous jobs around the town. (main seasons 3–7; recurring seasons 1–2)
- Chris Eigeman as Jason Stiles: Lorelai's season 4 boyfriend and Richard's business partner. (main season 4)
- Matt Czuchry as Logan Huntzberger: Rory's season 5–7 boyfriend, the heir of a New York Times-esque publishing family resembling that of the Ochs-Sulzberger family. (main seasons 6–7; recurring season 5)
- Liz Torres as Miss Patty, the town dance teacher and gossip
- Emily Kuroda as Mrs. Kim, Lane's strict Seventh-day Adventist mother
- Sally Struthers as Babette Dell, Lorelai's eccentric neighbor and town gossip
- Jackson Douglas as Jackson Belleville, Sookie's husband and a local farmer[c]
- Michael Winters as Taylor Doose, the uptight town Selectman
- David Sutcliffe as Christopher Hayden, Rory's father and Lorelai's on-off love interest (seasons 1–3; 5–7)
- Shelly Cole as Madeline Lynn, Paris and Rory's ditzy high school friend (seasons 1–4)
- Teal Redmann as Louise Grant, Paris and Rory's ditzy high school friend (seasons 1–4)
- Scott Cohen as Max Medina, Lorelai's season one boyfriend and brief fiancé, and Rory's English teacher at Chilton (seasons 1–3)
- Chad Michael Murray as Tristin DuGray, wealthy Chilton student who has a crush on Rory (seasons 1–2)
- Dakin Matthews as Hanlin Charleston, Headmaster of Chilton (seasons 1–4)
- Marion Ross as Lorelai "Trix" Gilmore, Richard's mother (seasons 1–4)
- Lisa Ann Hadley as Rachel, Luke's ex-girlfriend (season 1)
- Alex Borstein as Drella, the Independence Inn harpist (season 1), and "Miss Celine," Emily Gilmore's seamstress (season 5)
- Rose Abdoo as Gypsy, the town mechanic[d] (seasons 2–7)
- Carole King as Sophie Bloom, owner of the Sophie's Music shop (seasons 2, 5–6)
- Biff Yeager as Tom, a Stars Hollow contractor (seasons 2–4; 6)
- Emily Bergl as Francie Jarvis, a student at Chilton (seasons 2–3)
- Todd Lowe as Zach Van Gerbig, Lane's bandmate and eventual husband (seasons 3–7)
- John Cabrera as Brian Fuller, Lane's bandmate (seasons 3–7)
- Tricia O'Kelley as Nicole Leahy, Luke's season 3–4 girlfriend and short-term wife (seasons 3–4)
- Arielle Kebbel as Lindsay Lister, Dean's girlfriend and wife (seasons 3–5)
- Adam Brody as Dave Rygalski, Lane's bandmate and season 3 boyfriend (season 3)
- Sebastian Bach as Gil, Lane's bandmate (seasons 4–7)
- Danny Strong as Doyle McMaster, Paris's boyfriend and one-time editor of the Yale Daily News (seasons 4–7)
- Kathleen Wilhoite as Liz Danes, Luke's flighty sister and Jess's mother (seasons 4–7)
- Michael DeLuise as TJ, Luke's dopey brother-in-law (seasons 4–7)
- Wayne Wilcox as Marty, Rory's friend at Yale who has unrequited feelings for her (seasons 4–5; 7)
- Rini Bell as Lulu Kuschner, Kirk's girlfriend (seasons 4–7)
- Alan Loayza as Colin McCrae, Logan's wealthy friend (seasons 5–6)
- Tanc Sade as Finn, Logan's wealthy friend (seasons 5–6)
- Gregg Henry as Mitchum Huntzberger, Logan's father and a newspaper mogul (seasons 5–7)
- Vanessa Marano as April Nardini, Luke's "long lost" pre-teen daughter (seasons 6–7)
- Sherilyn Fenn as Anna Nardini, April's mother and Luke's ex-girlfriend[e] (seasons 6–7)
- Krysten Ritter as Lucy, Rory's friend (season 7)
- Michelle Ongkingco as Olivia Marquont, Rory's friend (season 7)
Amy Sherman-Palladino, who came from a background of writing for half-hour sitcoms, had Gilmore Girls approved by The WB after several of her previous pitches were turned down. On a whim, she suggested a show about a mother and daughter but had put little thought into the idea. Having to create a pilot, she drew inspiration for the show's setting of "Stars Hollow, Connecticut" after making a trip to Washington Depot, Connecticut, where she stayed at the Mayflower Inn. She explained: "If I can make people feel this much of what I felt walking around this fairy town, I thought that would be wonderful ... At the time I was there, it was beautiful, it was magical, and it was feeling of warmth and small-town camaraderie ... There was a longing for that in my own life, and I thought—that's something that I would really love to put out there." Stars Hollow was inspired by and is loosely based on the actual villages of Washington Depot, Connecticut, West Hartford, Connecticut, and the town of New Milford.
Once the setting was established, Gilmore Girls developed as a mixture of sitcom and family drama. Sherman-Palladino's aim was to create "A family show that doesn't make parents want to stick something sharp in their eyes while they're watching it and doesn't talk down to kids." She wanted the family dynamic to be important because "It's a constant evolution ... You never run out of conflict." The show's pace, dialogue, and focus on class divisions was heavily inspired by the screwball comedies of the 1930s and Katharine Hepburn–Spencer Tracy films. Sherman-Palladino was also influenced by the "acerbic wit" of Dorothy Parker.
The pilot episode of Gilmore Girls received financial support from the script development fund of the Family Friendly Programming Forum, which includes some of the nation's leading advertisers, making it one of the first network shows to reach the air with such funding. The show was green-lit by The WB, and Sherman-Palladino proceeded to exercise control over all aspects of its production. Her husband Daniel Palladino was a consultant and occasional writer for the first season, then agreed to quit his producer position on Family Guy to commit to Gilmore Girls; he became an executive producer with the second season, and also played a major role. The show's third executive producer was Gavin Polone.
Alexis Bledel was cast in the key role of Rory despite having no previous acting experience. Sherman-Palladino was drawn to her shyness and innocence, which she said was essential for the character, and felt she photographed well. Lauren Graham was pursued by the casting directors from the start of the process, but she was committed to another show on NBC. A week before shooting, they had still failed to cast Lorelai, so they asked Graham to audition anyway. Sherman-Palladino cast her that day, on the hope that Graham's other show (M.Y.O.B., which was burned off as a summer replacement series several months before the premiere of Gilmore Girls) would be cancelled, which it soon was. She later explained how Graham met all the criteria she had been looking for: "Lorelai's a hard fucking part. You've got to be funny, you've got to talk really fucking fast, you've got to be able to act, you've got to be sexy, but not scary sexy. You've got to be strong, but not like 'I hate men'". Graham and Bledel only met the night before they started filming the pilot.
In casting the grandparents, Sherman-Palladino had veteran actor Edward Herrmann in mind for Richard and was delighted when he agreed. Kelly Bishop, a fellow New York stage actress, was cast straight after her audition; Sherman-Palladino recalled knowing immediately "and there's Emily". The role of the Stars Hollow diner owner was originally a woman, but the network reported that they needed more men and Scott Patterson was cast as Luke. It was advertised as a guest role, but Patterson said he treated the pilot as "a chemistry test" and he was promptly promoted to series regular.
In the pilot, Sookie was played by Alex Borstein, but she could not be released from her Mad TV contract. She was therefore replaced by Melissa McCarthy, who re-filmed Sookie's scenes. The role of Dean also changed after the pilot, with the original actor replaced by newcomer Jared Padalecki. The character Lane was based on Sherman-Palladino's friend and fellow producer Helen Pai; Japanese-American actress Keiko Agena was cast in the role when they could not find an appropriate Korean-American actress. Liza Weil auditioned to play Rory, and while she was considered wrong for the part Sherman-Palladino liked her so much that she wrote the role of Paris especially for her.
Headed by Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino from seasons 1 to 6, Gilmore Girls had a small writing staff that changed regularly throughout the series. The Palladinos wrote a high percentage of episodes, and would review and rework the dialogue in episodes allocated to others. As such, the show is considered to have a distinctive "voice". Sherman-Palladino said "every draft either I write, or it passes through my hands ... so that there is a consistency of tone. It's very important that it feel like the same show every week, because it is so verbal." The main job of the writers' room was to help develop storylines and create detailed episode outlines. Notable writers who worked on the show at some point include Jenji Kohan, Bill Prady, Jane Espenson, Rebecca Rand Kirshner, and Janet Leahy.
As signalled by its tagline "Life's short. Talk fast", Gilmore Girls is known for its fast-paced dialogue and "witty repartee". Sherman-Palladino wanted a snappy delivery from the characters because she believes that "comedy dies slow", which required large volumes of dialogue to fill the hour-long time slot. Scripts averaged 80 pages per episode, compared to an "hour-long" average of 55–60 pages, with one page translating to 20–25 seconds of screen time. Scott Patterson later said that the pace of the dialog led to both him and Lauren Graham quitting smoking—"She needed her wind, and I needed my wind."
Much of the dialogue is peppered with references to film, television shows, music, literature, and celebrity culture. The range of references is broad, summarised by critic Ken Tucker as "some cross between Mystery Science Theater 3000 and Ulysses". Sherman-Palladino wanted the characters to speak this way as an indicator of their worldliness and intelligence, and to cater to a broad audience. At the start, she argued with the network about the frequently old-fashioned references; when she refused to remove a comment about Oscar Levant, she felt the executives adopted an attitude of "Let the crazy woman dig her own grave." The relative obscurity of some of the allusions resulted in explanatory "Gilmore-isms" booklets being included in the DVD sets of the first four seasons.
In contrast to the rapid-fire dialogue, storylines on Gilmore Girls move slowly. Sherman-Palladino's motto was "make the small big, make the big small", which she learned from her days writing for Roseanne. She chose to be "very stingy with events", and the drama is low-key because "sometimes the average every day things are more impactful". Key incidents often take place off-screen and are only revealed through character conversations, which journalist Constance Grady says is because "On Gilmore Girls, the explosion is never what matters: It's the fallout." The show similarly uses subtext rather than exposition, "where people will talk a great deal in order to obscure what they really mean to say". The writers did not like moments to be overly sentimental, preferring characters to show love through actions and behavior. Sherman-Palladino stated that the network did not interfere or request changes, though there is speculation that she delivered scripts at the last minute to avoid their input.[f]
Sherman-Palladino treated Lorelai as a reflection of herself. Her husband commented: "Amy writing for Lorelai Gilmore has always been really special. No surprise, they're kind of doppelgängers ... Amy and Lorelai are very, very similar. That character is a great cipher for a lot of what Amy is and has been, from the very beginning."
The pilot episode was shot in the Toronto suburb of Unionville. The rest of the series was filmed at the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank, California. Exterior scenes of Stars Hollow, along with those at Luke's Diner and Miss Patty's dance studio, were all filmed on the backlot – with dozens of background actors utilized to make it look like a functioning town. Production designers regularly had to decorate the town square with fake leaves or fake snow to make it look like a New England fall or winter. Interiors of Lorelai's house and inn, and all scenes at Yale and the Gilmore mansion, were filmed on a sound stage. Very occasionally, the show was filmed on location. The exterior shots of Rory's preparatory school, Chilton, were filmed at Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills, California. Rory's visit to Harvard was filmed at UCLA, the first visit to Yale was filmed at Pomona College, and subsequent Yale shots were filmed at sound stages in Burbank, California, and USC.
Gilmore Girls relied on a master shot filming style, in which a scene is filmed to frame characters and their dialogue together within a long and uninterrupted, single take; often illustrated through another method regularly employed on the show, the walk and talk. Sherman-Palladino explained "There's an energy and style to our show that's very simple, in my mind ... [it] almost needs to be shot like a play. That's how we get our pace, our energy, and our flow ... I don't think it could work any other way."
It took eight working days to shoot an episode, and days were regularly 14–20 hours long. Lauren Graham said: "We filmed alongside The West Wing, and Aaron Sorkin shows are known for having the worst hours ever, they go on and on, but we were always there even after they had gone home, because you couldn't change a word of the script." The cast were required to be word-perfect in all the scenes, while also reciting large amounts of dialogue at speed. Matt Czuchry, who had a main role for the final three seasons, commented "The pace of the dialogue was what made that show incredibly unique, and also incredibly difficult as an actor. To be able to maintain that speed, tone, and at the same time, try to make layered choices was a great experience to have early in my career. It really challenged me." The combination of the difficult dialogue and long takes meant each scene had to be shot many times; Graham said in 2015: "never before or since have I done as many takes of anything". Alexis Bledel recalled that one scene required 38 takes. Graham added, "that show – as fun and breezy and light as it is – is technically really challenging".
Gilmore Girls' non-diegetic score was composed by singer-songwriter Sam Phillips throughout its entire run. Sherman-Palladino, who served as the music supervisor of the series, was a big fan of the musician and secured her involvement. For the score's instrumental arrangement, Phillips primarily used her voice and an acoustic guitar, and on occasion included piano, violin, and drums. Many of the musical cues are accompanied by melodic "la-la"s and "ahh"s, which developed because Sherman-Palladino wanted the score to sound connected to the girls themselves, almost like "an extension of their thoughts ... if they had music going in their head during a certain emotional thing in their life." Sherman-Palladino felt that the score elevated the series "because it wasn't a wasted element in the show. Everything was trying to say a little something, add a little something to it." Several of Phillips' album tracks are also played in the show, and she made an appearance in the season six finale, performing part of "Taking Pictures".
The theme song is a version of Carole King's 1971 song "Where You Lead". King made a new recording specially for Gilmore Girls: a duet with her daughter Louise Goffin. She was happy that it gave the song "a deeper meaning of love between a mother and her child". King appeared in several episodes as Sophie, the town music shop owner, and performed a brief portion of her song "I Feel the Earth Move" in the revival.
Music also plays a large part in the show as a frequent topic of conversation between characters and in live performances within scenes. Musical acts who made appearances include The Bangles, Sonic Youth, Sparks, and The Shins (S04E17). Grant-Lee Phillips appears in at least one episode per season as the town's troubadour, singing his own songs and covers. In 2002, a soundtrack to Gilmore Girls was released by Rhino Records, entitled Our Little Corner of the World: Music from Gilmore Girls. The CD booklet features anecdotes from show producers Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino about the large part music has played in their lives.
Change of showrunner
In 2006, the WB merged with UPN to form a new network, The CW. Gilmore Girls survived the merger, being selected as one of seven WB shows to be transferred for a new season, but it resulted in a significant change. In April that year, it was announced that Amy Sherman-Palladino and her husband Daniel could not come to an agreement with The CW and would be leaving the show when their contracts expired that summer. Journalist Michael Ausiello said of the decision: "The thought of Gilmore Girls heading into what is likely to be its final season (and its first on a brand-new network) without its mama or her right-hand man is unfathomable." Discussing the departure later, Sherman-Palladino reflected on the contract dispute in an interview with Vulture, saying:
It was a botched negotiation. It really was about the fact that I was working too much. I was going to be the crazy person who was locked in my house and never came out. I heard a lot of 'Amy doesn't need a writing staff because she and Dan Palladino write everything!' I thought, That's a great mentality on your part, but if you want to keep the show going for two more years, let me hire more writers. By the way, all this shit we asked for? They had to do [it] anyway when we left. They hired this big writing staff and a producer-director onstage. That's what bugged me the most. They wound up having to do what we'd asked for anyway, and I wasn't there.
David S. Rosenthal, who worked on the show as a writer and producer for season 6, was selected by Sherman-Palladino to replace her as showrunner. Commenting on this change, an article in Wired says: "the Palladinos had written the majority of the episodes up to that point, and their distinctive rhythms and obsessions were what defined Gilmore Girls. What remains after their departure is something that seems like Gilmore Girls Adjacent more than anything."
There was speculation during the seventh season that it would be the show's final year, as Graham and Bledel's contracts were both coming to an end. As negotiations continued between the actresses and the network, Rosenthal planned a finale that "could serve as an ending or a beginning of a new chapter and a new season". Graham later said that by the end of the filming schedule "there was a 50/50 chance we'd be returning", and she requested that the finale provide "an opportunity to say goodbye" to the characters, in case of cancellation. Due to the uncertainty, the cast and crew did not have a final wrap party or an opportunity to say farewells.
The CW initially considered bringing the show back for a shortened, 13-episode season but then decided against the idea. On May 3, 2007, shortly before the final episode aired, the network announced that the series would not be renewed. Graham explained that the possibility of returning fell through because "We were trying to find a way we [she and Bledel] could have a slightly easier schedule, and there was really no way to do that and still have it be Gilmore Girls."
Because the final season was not written by the series' creator, and the new writers had not known that the finale was definitely the last episode, Lauren Graham noted that a lot of fans "were disappointed with how it [the series] ended". In 2009, Amy Sherman-Palladino expressed an interest in pursuing a Gilmore Girls film, to finish the series as she originally intended. Over the following years, fans and journalists continued to ask regularly if the show would return. Privately, Sherman-Palladino stayed in contact with Graham, Bledel, Patterson and Bishop to discuss the possibility, but nothing came to fruition.
In June 2015, for the 15th anniversary of the show, the cast and showrunners reunited for a special panel at the ATX Television Festival. When asked about a possible revival, Sherman-Palladino told the audience "I'm sorry, there's nothing in the works at the moment." The hype generated by the reunion, however, empowered Sherman-Palladino to pitch new episodes and encouraged Netflix to produce them. In October 2015 – eight years after the show had ended – TVLine reported that the streaming channel struck a deal with Warner Bros to revive the series in a limited run, consisting of four 90-minute episodes, written and directed by Amy and Daniel Palladino. The Palladinos explained that it felt like the right time creatively to continue the story, and that the freedom provided by Netflix made it possible.
The revival miniseries, titled Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, was filmed from February to May 2016. Aside from Edward Herrmann, who died a year prior, every cast member who received a main credit on the show returned for at least a scene, while many supporting characters also made an appearance. The sets all had to be rebuilt from scratch, using nothing but photos and footage from the original series. The revival was released on Netflix on November 25, 2016, to positive reviews. There is speculation regarding a possible second revival, with Netflix reportedly keen.
Gilmore Girls' first season commenced on The WB in the Thursday 8pm/7pm Central time slot, as a lead-in for Charmed. Renewed for a second season, the show was relocated on Tuesdays 8pm/7pm, the time slot of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which transferred to UPN, and served as a lead-in for Smallville, which became an instant hit and always beat Gilmore Girls in the ratings. During seasons 4 and 5, it led into One Tree Hill, which slowly became a hit. In season 6, it led into Supernatural, which became another hit for The WB and continued on until 2020. Both series were led by former Gilmore Girls actors, with One Tree Hill starring Chad Michael Murray, and Jared Padalecki as a co-star in Supernatural.
First-season reruns aired on Monday nights from March 5 until April 9, 2001, during a mid-season hiatus of Roswell, to build audience awareness of the series. An additional run of the first season aired in 2002 on Sunday nights under the title Gilmore Girls Beginnings (which featured a modified opening sequence voiced with a monologue detailing the premise from Graham), and was one of two shows on The WB to have "Beginnings" in its title for reruns, along with 7th Heaven.
In the United Kingdom, Gilmore Girls was initially screened on Nickelodeon from 2003. Only the first three seasons were shown, with episodes edited for content and some, like "The Big One", dropped entirely. The series was subsequently picked up by the Hallmark Channel, which gave UK premieres to seasons 4 and 5. In Ireland, the series aired its entire run on RTÉ One on Sundays.
In the US, the show began its syndicated release on ABC Family in 2004. The network continued to air the show daily under its new name Freeform until the fall of 2018, when those rights moved to Pop. In October 2015, Gilmore Girls concurrently became available on a second network, UPtv, which continues to air it to this day. Josef Adalian of Vulture commented on the rarity of Freeform and Up carrying a series of its type in syndication: "not that many non-procedural, hour-long shows from the early part of the century—particularly those from a small network such as WB—are still even airing regularly on one cable network, let alone two." Up showed Gilmore Girls 1,100 times in its first year; Freeform aired it 400 times in the same period. From 2009 to 2013, Gilmore Girls also aired in weekend timeslots on SOAPnet.
Since 2016 UPtv has aired a weeklong marathon of all episodes of Gilmore Girls around the Thanksgiving holiday. As the network maintains a family-friendly focus and programming schedule, some minor dialogue edits are made in a number of episodes, mainly when "hell" and "damn" are said, though all episodes are carried.
Gilmore Girls began running on Logo TV in August 2020.
In the UK, E4 showed all seven seasons in rotation until January 2012. The show moved to 5Star, then in 2018 changed to daily screenings on the Paramount Network. In Australia, from March 2015, Gilmore Girls began airing again weeknights on digital terrestrial network GEM. Nickelodeon began airing Gilmore Girls in the UK in 2003, though it eventually moved to E4 due to viewer criticism over the network's considerable editing of episodes, along with refusing to air a number of episodes over content concerns.
Home media and online
Warner Home Video released all seven seasons of Gilmore Girls on DVD, in regions 1, 2 and 4, mainly in full-screen 4:3 ratio due to Amy Sherman-Palladino's preference at the time of original release. The full series DVD boxset was released in 2007. Special features include deleted scenes, three behind-the-scenes featurettes, cast interviews, montages, and one episode commentary (for "You Jump, I Jump, Jack").
On October 1, 2014, all seven seasons of the series began streaming on Netflix's "Watch Instantly" service in the United States; all episodes, including the three seasons before The WB transitioned the series to 16:9 HD broadcast from season four on, are in that format. On July 1, 2016, Gilmore Girls became available on Netflix worldwide. All seasons of Gilmore Girls are also available for digital download on the iTunes Store, Amazon.com and other digital sales websites, with all digital sites offering all episodes in HD.
Upon debut, Gilmore Girls was lauded for the distinct, dialogue-infused style created by Amy Sherman-Palladino, the strength of the dynamic familial themes, and the performances of its cast, particularly leading star Lauren Graham. On Metacritic, the first season has an average rating of 81 out of 100 from 26 reviews, indicating "universal praise".
In the San Francisco Chronicle, John Carman wrote "It's cross-generational, warm-the-cockles viewing, and it's a terrific show. Can this really be the WB, niche broadcaster to horny mall rats?" Caryn James of The New York Times called it a "witty, charming show" that "is redefining family in a realistic, entertaining way for today's audience, all the while avoiding the sappiness that makes sophisticated viewers run from anything labeled a 'family show.'" Ray Richmond of The Hollywood Reporter declared it "a genuine gem in the making, a family-friendly hour unburdened by trite cliche or precocious pablum," while Jonathan Storm of The Philadelphia Inquirer dubbed it "a touching, funny, lively show that really does appeal to all ages". David Zurawik of The Baltimore Sun called Gilmore Girls "One of the most pleasant surprises of the new season".
For the second-season premiere, Hal Boedeker of the Orlando Sentinel praised the show as "one of television's great, unsung pleasures", and said "Series creator Amy Sherman-Palladino writes clever dialogue and ingratiating comedy, but she also knows how to do bittersweet drama." Emily Yahr of The Washington Post retrospectively called the second instalment "Pretty much a perfect season of television". Viewers were concerned that the show would suffer when Rory left for college after season 3, and Yahr commented that the show was not "the same" from this point but gave seasons four and five a positive 7/10.
The last two seasons were less positively received. Maureen Ryan of the Chicago Tribune described the sixth season as "uneven at best", explaining, "the protracted fight between Lorelai and Rory Gilmore left the writers scrambling to cram the show with filler plots that stretched many fans' patience to the limit." The introduction of Luke's daughter has been described as "pretty much the most hated plot device in Gilmore Girls history". Ken Tucker from Entertainment Weekly rated the seventh season "C", describing it as "a death-blow season [which] was more accurately Gilmore Ghosts, as the exhausted actors bumped into the furniture searching for their departed souls and smart punchlines". But he concluded that before this came "six seasons of magnificent mixed emotions" among a "perfect television idyll". Giving the show an overall rating of "A−", he added, "industry ignorance of the writing and of Graham's performance in particular will remain an eternal scandal".
Gilmore Girls was listed as one of Time magazine's "All-TIME 100 TV Shows". and was ranked the 87th greatest American television series in TV (The Book), authored by critics Alan Sepinwall and Matt Zoller Seitz in 2016. Entertainment Weekly placed Gilmore Girls 32nd on its "New TV Classics" list, and included the show on its end-of-the-2000s "best-of" list, and The A.V. Club named "They Shoot Gilmores, Don't They?" as one of the best TV episodes of the decade. Alan Sepinwall included the show in his "Best of the 00s in Comedies" list, saying: "Gilmore offered up an unconventional but enormously appealing family ... As the quippy, pop culture-quoting younger Gilmores were forced to reconnect with their repressed elders, creator Amy Sherman-Palladino got plenty of laughs and tears out of the generational divide, and out of showing the family Lorelai created for herself and her daughter in the idealized, Norman Rockwell-esque town of Stars Hollow. At its best, Gilmore Girls was pure, concentrated happiness."
In 2016, Amy Plitt of Rolling Stone reflected on the enduring appeal of Gilmore Girls, and noted that it stood out from other family shows like 7th Heaven, The OC and Everwood by being "far richer, deeper ... The characters were funny and relatable, the banter was zinger-heavy, the familial drama was poignant and the romantic chemistry ... was off the charts."
Viewer ratings for Gilmore Girls were not large, but the numbers were a relative success for the small WB network and it became one of their flagship series. For its first season the show aired in the tough Thursday 8pm/7pm Central time slot dominated by Friends on NBC and Survivor on CBS. Critical acclaim encouraged the network to move it to Tuesday evenings, as part of a push to promote the series and due to the move of Tuesday stalwart Buffy the Vampire Slayer to UPN in the same timeslot. During season 2, ratings for Gilmore Girls surpassed Buffy and it became The WB's third-highest-rated show, with viewer numbers that grew by double digits in all major demographics. For seasons 4–7, Gilmore Girls was up against the US's top-rated show American Idol, which led to a drop in viewers, but with Season 5 it became The WB's second-most-watched prime time show. The series was often in the top 3 most-viewed shows in its timeslot for women under 35.
|Season||Timeslot (ET)||Network||Episodes||First aired||Last aired||TV season||Viewership
|1||Thursday 8:00 pm||The WB||21||October 5, 2000||4.6||May 10, 2001||4.1||2000–01||126||3.6|
|2||Tuesday 8:00 pm||22||October 9, 2001||5.0||May 21, 2002||5.2||2001–02||121||5.2|
|3||22||September 24, 2002||5.7||May 20, 2003||5.5||2002–03||121||5.2|
|4||22||September 23, 2003||5.2||May 18, 2004||5.5||2003–04||157||4.1|
|5||22||September 21, 2004||6.20||May 17, 2005||5.89||2004–05||110||4.8|
|6||22||September 13, 2005||6.22||May 9, 2006||5.33||2005–06||119||4.5|
|7||The CW||22||September 26, 2006||4.48||May 15, 2007||4.90||2006–07||129||3.7|
In its 2016 syndicated release, Gilmore Girls averaged 100,000–120,000 viewers per episode, for an annual viewership of 11 million on each of its networks. The same year, the Chief Content Officer for Netflix, Ted Sarandos, cited Gilmore Girls as one of the streaming channel's most watched shows worldwide.
Awards and nominations
Gilmore Girls earned several accolades, but did not receive much attention from the major awarding bodies. Its only Emmy nomination was for Outstanding Makeup for a Series, for the episode "The Festival of Living Art", which it won in 2004. Michael Ausiello has attributed this to "a notorious bias against the WB". Recognition did come from the American Film Institute, who named Gilmore Girls one of the ten best shows of 2002, and the Television Critics Association (TCA) who named it Outstanding New Program of the Year in 2001. The TCA Awards also nominated the show for Outstanding Drama in 2001 and 2002, and Outstanding Comedy in 2005. The Satellite Awards nominated it for Best Series – Musical or Comedy in 2002 and 2004, while it was nominated for Favorite Television Drama at the People's Choice Awards 2005. The show was honored by the Viewers for Quality Television with a "seal of quality" in 2000. The series also achieved considerable attention from the Teen Choice Awards, where it received multiple nominations and wins including the award for Choice Comedy Series in 2005.
Lauren Graham was nominated for one Golden Globe Award and two Screen Actors Guild Awards for her work on the first and second seasons, and received five successive nominations at the Satellite Awards. The TCAs nominated her for Individual Achievement in Drama in 2002, then for Comedy in 2006. She also received a Family Television Award, and she won the Teen Choice Award for Best TV Mom twice. Alexis Bledel won a Young Artist Award, two Teen Choice Awards, and a Family Television Award. She was also nominated by the Satellite Awards in 2002, as was Kelly Bishop for her supporting performance in 2002 and 2004.
Fandom and cultural impact
Gilmore Girls is considered a cult classic, with an "avid following". During the run of the show this was mostly a small but dedicated group, predominantly of females, but its audience has grown steadily since it came off the air. The series experienced a resurgence when it became available on Netflix in October 2014, introducing it to a new generation of viewers. When the revival was announced in 2015, star Lauren Graham credited it to the campaigning and persistence of the fans. At this point, according to The Washington Post, the show became "a quirky pop culture obsession." The enduring popularity of Gilmore Girls is considered to come from its comforting quality and cross-generational appeal. It is particularly known as a show that mothers and daughters watch together.
The Gilmore Girls Fan Fest has become an annual event since its inauguration in 2016. The unofficial festival takes place in Connecticut over an October weekend, and includes panels with cast and crew, themed activities, and screenings. For the 16th anniversary of the show, 200 coffee houses around the US and Canada were transformed into "Luke's Diners". For two weeks in winter 2018–19, Warner Bros. added a special feature to their studio tour that recreated the Stars Hollow set and displayed props and costumes from the series. The show has an active fandom, posting in internet forums and creating work such as fan fiction. Special Gilmore Girls trivia nights have been held at venues in multiple different cities.
The Irish Independent has commented that "Even though it preceded social media, Gilmore Girls has been internet gold for the past few years. Thanks to its snappy one-liners, it's spawned thousands of memes that have introduced the Buzzfeed generation to its coffee-swilling, cheeseburger-loving, critically-thinking characters." The show has been parodied on Mad TV and Family Guy, and featured in an episode of Six Feet Under. A cocktail bar in Brooklyn devised a menu inspired by the show. Warner Bros. has produced a range of Gilmore Girls merchandise, including T-shirts, mugs, and dolls.
Three collections of academic essays that analyze the show have been published: Gilmore Girls and the Politics of Identity (2008); Screwball Television: Critical Perspectives on Gilmore Girls (2010); and Gilmore Girls: A Cultural History (2019). In 2002, four young adult novels were published that adapted scripts from the first and second seasons into novel form, told from Rory's first-person point of view. There have also been several unofficial, fan-based guides to the series, including Coffee At Luke's: An Unauthorized Gilmore Girls Gab Fest (2007), The Gilmore Girls Companion (2010), You've Been Gilmored!: The Unofficial Encyclopedia and Complete Guide to Gilmore Girls (2020), and You've Been Gilmored! The Companion. In July 2020, a further book was announced by Taryn Dryfhout, author of You've Been Gilmored!: The Unofficial Encyclopedia and Complete Guide to Gilmore Girls and You've Been Gilmored! The Companion. But I'm a Gilmore! will look at the experiences of Gilmore Girls fans, and their 'Gilmore stories'. The program is also the source of a book club, in which followers aim to read all 339 books referenced on the show, and the inspiration for a cookbook called Eat Like a Gilmore.
Gilmore Girls is the basis for the successful podcast Gilmore Guys (2014–2017), which was named by Time as one of the 50 best podcasts of 2017 – the only television-based inclusion. It follows the hosts, Kevin T. Porter and Demi Adejuyigbe, as they watch every episode of the series. Sadaf Ahsan of the National Post commented that it "helped reignite – and, for some, initiate – fan fervour" towards Gilmore Girls.
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