I spent last week not working away diligently on my book but flat on my ass in front of the television. After successfully avoiding every cold, flu and virus for the past 12 months, something finally caught up with me and it was as if all the cooties that I had avoided for the past year were rolled up in one great dose of coughing, hacking and snot. And because my throat seemed to take the worst of it (I swear, every time I get a cold, my speaking voice drops another half octave, and stays that way. I can live with sounding like Kathleen Turner, but eventually I’m going to sound like Barry White, and that’ll suck.), I downed a gallon of iced green tea (yes really, homemade, plenty of honey and lemon) every single day just to keep the coughing fits at bay. (Dudes, I have ALL the anti-oxidants.)
I couldn’t get my eyes to focus long enough to read a book, so for four days I set up camp on the sofa, much to the chagrin of a cranky dog who is used to having the whole thing to herself.
Of course, timing being everything, my cold had chosen the week after we disconnected our cable to hit me. So I couldn’t just sit there and channel surf, I had to actively decide on something to watch instead of passively choosing the least offensive thing I could come up with. (Actually we still had a connection the first day… holy crap, those daytime housewife shows are terrifying, aren’t they?)
I figured it was time to bite the bullet. A few months ago, a friend had lent me the full series of Gilmore Girls on DVD, and I had been meaning to get around to viewing it. I had adored this show when it aired – not only did I love the dialogue and pop culture references, as someone who also left home as a teenager, I felt a weird bond with the lead character of Lorelai, who leaves the home of very rich parents at the age of 17, along with her newborn daughter, to live on her own and work as a maid, rather than deal with her over-bearing mother.
I hadn’t seen the show since it originally aired from 2000 – 2007, and was worried that it might not hold up very well. It did better than expected, with the trademark witty repartee and obscure pop culture references peppering the sharp, fast dialogue. However, the parts that bothered me this time around were the same things that bothered me about the show when it originally aired, and even my love for the work of Amy Sherman-Palladino who wrote all the scripts for the first 6 seasons wouldn’t allow me to overlook the flaws.
Some things were funny – 12 years ago, we all still had TVs with big picture tubes, and they’re glaringly obvious in every scene set in a room with a television in it. The fashions, surprisingly, were generic enough to hold up reasonably well, except that in 2000 we were all obsessed with midriffs (thanks, Britney Spears!) so although the clothes worn by both mother and daughter are never revealing (remember, this show got some of its funding from the Family Friendly Programming Forum), holy crap those sweaters are short, stopping just at the waist and never going any lower. Cell phones were rare and were actually used for talking.
The continuity gaps in the storyline were much more obvious on the second viewing though, to the point that I’m figuring they were just on such a restricted budget that there was no one working on story continuity. For instance in one episode an event takes place on a Wednesday – that it is a Wednesday is central to the plot – yet three days pass between said Wednesday and the weekly Friday night dinner with the Gilmore parents. I know I’m supposed to be more concerned about the story itself, but stuff like this seemed to happen in every episode.
And while I can forgive the fact that episodes may not have been filmed in order, and that the series was probably filmed months ahead of time, you really can’t have a Christmas episode, complete with snow, and then have the characters walk through the town resplendent with leafy green trees in the next scene.
The worst part really had to be the kitchen scenes. Maybe the non-existent continuity person could also have been a researcher, that would have been awesome, because the kitchen scenes set in the inn where Lorelai works made me full of rage. (A side-note here to point out the fact that Melissa McCarthy, who played Suki the chef, is breath-takingly gorgeous in this show and I can’t believe it took a decade for someone to recognize her talent and give her her own show. Seriously!)
For example, no chef in their right mind would be licking spoons – or letting other employees lick spoons – and then put them back into the pot of stuff that just got tasted. Gah! There’s a scene where Suki argues with her produce supplier about peaches that are too small, indicating that they’ll be mushy and lacking in flavour – in fact it’s the opposite, big fruit that have been subject to lots of rain are more likely to be short on flavour than smaller specimens. There’s also a scene, set in January, where Suki fights with the produce guy again because she wants zucchini blossoms – which don’t exist in January in Connecticut. And the most egregious might be the fuss when he replaces her requested porcinis with morels. Clearly, at this point, Sherman-Palladino is just throwing out names of mushrooms without knowing what they are or where they come from.
And yes, I know I’m being nit-picky, but I expect a show that is lauded for its great writing to actually have great writing, and that includes research, not just making shit up.
The other thing I didn’t remember from 12 years ago was that the main characters, despite the great dialogue, are actually kind of whiny. I recall this being the case as the series progressed over the years, but I don’t remember it being so prevalent in Season 1. I wanted to remember Rory and Lorelai as being strong and independent, not bitchy and complaining.
I made it through the 21 episodes of Season 1, but I think I’ll probably return the DVDs to my friend with seasons 2-7 unwatched. I borrowed the show knowing full well that it might not live up to a second viewing a decade later. And while there are some TV series that I can watch 3 or 4 times, that I am happy to give up 30 or 40 hours (or more) of my life to experience again (Deadwood, The Wire and the UK Life on Mars are 3 examples), sadly, Gilmore Girls isn’t one of those shows.