Saturday, October 4, 2014

Welcome to Star's Hollow, Population Awesome

Sometimes the world works in the most perfect way. You miss all of the traffic and hit all of the green lights. Dunkin' Donuts doesn't take away the butter pecan flavored iced coffee that you love. No one annoys you the entire day. Netflix finally grants you access to a magical television show, Gilmore Girls. 

I hope, dear Island readers, that those of you who have Netflix have dived into the wonderful world of Stars Hallow. I watched the show when it originally aired and own all seven seasons on DVD. I have re-watched the show in its entirety (since watching it on television) at least four times. If you haven't added it to your queue or started watching it already, I implore you to do so right after you finish reading this post. You won't be disappointed with the experience.

The release of the show on Netflix has unleashed a flurry of articles and Buzzfeed quizzes and posts about the show. The show aired in 2000 on the WB and ended seven years later on the CW. It chronicles the adventures of the dynamic mother-daughter duo of Lorelai (Lauren Graham) and Rory (Alexis Bledel) Gilmore. The Gilmore girls live in the quirky town of Stars Hollow, CT and are surrounded by a cast of amazingly funny and interesting characters. Lorelai was a teen mom who left her affluent family after giving birth to Rory and found a life for herself. Over the course of seven seasons, we follow Lorelai and Rory through their many loves, private high schools, getting into an Ivy League college, opening an inn, and so many town festivals. The fast-paced dialogue and pop culture references are worth the time. Amy Sherman-Palladino, the series creator, injects the right amount of weird and normal to the world of Gilmore Girls.

One of the things that I most enjoy about the world of Stars Hollow (and Chilton, Yale, etc.) is the secondary characters. These are the people that truly bring the show to life. The best shows are the ones in which the world of the show seems real (even if it's a bit quirky). Stars Hollow and the other locations of the show only make sense if you add in all the secondary and tertiary characters. I thought that for my first Gilmore Girls Island post, I'd talk about my favorite side characters. They may not appear in every episode or even make it to the end of the series but they are important in our little corner of the world. Grab some takeout from Al's Pancake World or some dessert sushi and let's talk Gilmore Girls.

1. The Trifecta - Miss Patty, Babette, and Taylor.
You can't have Stars Hollow without these three. Miss Patty and Babette know everything about everyone in town and are some of the sassiest women you will ever meet. Babette is the neighbor that I hope I have if I ever buy a house. I'd trust her to collect my mail and call the embassies in the countries I was visiting if I didn't return from my European vacation on the day she thought I was returning. Did I mention that Babette is portrayed by Sally Struthers? That voice! No Stars Hollow festival (and there are lots of them) would be the same without the choreography skills of Miss Patty. Her stories are the greatest and I want her one woman show to be a real thing that I can go see. Now. What's even more wonderful is that they provide balance to Taylor, the town selectman.Taylor truly cares about Stars Hollow but he's also crazy. His brand of particularness is overwhelming but is also what keeps Stars Hollow going. His scenes with Kirk (who we'll discuss shortly) are some of my favorites on the show. I want to attend a town meeting, volunteer to be a pilgrim at the food drive, and invest in some sweaters with elbow patches so Taylor will be happy.

2. The Love Interest No One Understands - Jason Stiles
I have to confess that part of my love for Jason Stiles comes from the fact that I have the biggest crush on Chris Eigeman. I first saw him in Whit Stillman's 1990 debut Metropolitan and was immediately hooked. I will watch anything that he's in and I was sad that his role on Bunheads was so limited. He is every preppy boy that I've crushed on in my life (which is so not my type but I can't help it). Popped collars make me rageful but deal with popped collar/uncomfortable suit Jason Stiles.

Jason "Digger" Stiles appears in season four which is one of my favorite seasons to watch when I'm in a state of transition or uncertainty. He and Lorelai grew up together and he becomes business partners with Mr. Gilmore. He and Lorelai also start a secret relationship (a frequent Lorelai relationship tactic). Jason is not the great love of Lorelai's life but he's an important part of Lorelai's life as she's working on opening the Dragonfly Inn and she's not quite ready to be with Luke (she's almost there). Jason is unexpected, weird, has a lot neuroses, and is not the kind of guy she should be with and that is exactly why she should be with him. He helps her reflect on the parts of her past that she needs to move forward with her life. Also, he basically calls Emily Gilmore obsolete (he actually says it about cocktail parties but same difference). I was glad to see Jason go but I'm super glad he was there.

3.The Nemesis (but not really) - Paris Geller
Let's be honest, I could write an entire post on Paris. She is the quintessential mean super smart girl when we meet her on Rory's first day at Chilton. These first days would set the stage for a long friendship that has a lot of ups and downs over seven seasons (just like a real friendship). Paris needs Rory and Rory needs Paris. They might not want to admit it but it's the truth. The Yale years are my favorite of her episodes. She has an affair with a professor, becomes editor/dictator of the newspaper, and provides her own brand of Paris tough love to Rory when she needs it. Paris is another extreme character but is at the same time, incredibly relatable. I remember feeling bad for Paris...a lot. Her family life was not ideal (despite the privilege) and she's the kind of person that's had her life mapped out since she could write her name. She has a hard time being flexible and I totally feel for her on that one. One of my favorite non-Yale episodes featuring Paris was the one in season three when she and Rory are both giving speeches at the Chilton bicentennial and right before, Paris finds out that she didn't get into Harvard. And she's crushed. This particular episode showed us that Paris was indeed human and had feelings. I tear up every time I re-watch this one.

Like Lorelai, we all come to love Paris in the end.

4. Why You Hide Music in the Floorboards - Mrs. Kim
"Boys don't like funny girls." And so begins my adoration of Mrs. Kim (Emily Kuroda), Lane's mom and Lorelai's complete parenting opposite. In the hands of less skilled writers and a less skilled actor, Mrs. Kim could have become a terrible stereotype of a Korean parent. Mrs. Kim is traditional and wants Lane to marry a nice Korean boy who happens to be a doctor and who Mrs. Kim picks for her BUT Mrs. Kim is also incredibly honest and forgiving. She's a realist and a perfect counter to Lorelai. Every time Lorelai tries to explain about teenagers, Mrs. Kim just gives her a look and the conversation ends. Mrs. Kim understands teenagers and young women, but she also believes in rules and respect. When Lane finally does break away, you can see the influence of her mother in her despite her desire to rebel. My favorite Mrs. Kim moment of all time is when she takes over as manager of Hep Alien and books them on a tour...that takes them to Seventh Day Adventist church groups and college campuses. I'd book Mrs. Kim to be my band's manager any day.

5. The Everyman - Kirk Gleason
If you've seen Guardians of the Galaxy than you know Sean Gunn, the actor who portrayed Kirk. He played Raglin, one of Yondu's gang. More importantly, he was the actor who performed the motion capture for Rocket. I had a hard time not imagining Kirk in any scene featuring Rocket. I couldn't help it.

Kirk appears in 137 episodes of Gilmore Girls. There are 154 total episodes - that's a lot of time on the show. Kirk has probably that many jobs during the series. Everyone should have a Kirk in their life; he's odd and endearing and funny. He truly cares about the people in his life (like that time that he installed a security system for Lorelai because she was now by herself and he followed her home in a golf cart to make sure she got there safely); he just has to show it in his very Kirk way. I wish we had gotten to meet his mother (whom he lives with). That probably would have explained a lot more. His scenes with Luke are an excellent study in contrasts and one of my favorite Kirk moments is when he opened a diner in the square called Duke's. Was I the only one who cheered when he finally got a girlfriend? Kirk is the sidekick of the entire town and without him Stars Hollow would not be the place it is.

I could go on for days about all of these characters and the many that I left out (I didn't get to talk about Sebastian Bach or Max or Francie, one of two characters on the show that I actually hate). Maybe one day we'll finally get to see a Gilmore Girls movie (I would wait in line at the midnight show). Or maybe Kirk will get his own show. Or maybe I'll figure out how to organize the first ever con devoted entirely to the show. Until then, I'll just plan on re-watching the series again and again.

Who's your favorite Gilmore Girls side character?

More Gilmore Girls coming soon to the Island! This fall/winter I'll be re-watching the series and writing about it. We'll talk Dean v. Jess v. Logan; why Sookie is the greatest character of all; and we'll breakdown all the junk food that Lorelai and Rory eat without ever having to go to the gym.

Miss Patty & Babette
Jason Stiles
Mrs. Kim 

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