How to binge watch... 'Gilmore Girls'

With seven seasons to work through before the show returns to Netflix, it's time to start working through the 153 episodes

Gilmore Girls,

Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel as Lorelai and Rory Gilmore [Pixabay]

Why binge Gilmore Girls?

As the Irish summer trundles on with the promise of at least a handful of days of sunshine before the heavy jackets of autumn are pulled back out of the wardrobe they’ve been restlessly hanging in for a couple of months, there could be no show that will have you falling, so to speak, for autumn like Gilmore Girls. Set in the impossibly twee and fictional town of Stars Hollow, Connecticut, the story centres on a single mother, who gave birth at 16, and her now 16-year-old daughter, Lorelai and Rory Gilmore, the eponymous gals.

An effortless patter of sharp writing, pop culture references, will-they-won’t-they, and the developing relationship between mother and daughter helped turn Gilmore Girls into a cult hit on this side of the Atlantic, though it wears its New England-y all-American lifestyles on its sleeve. Stars Hollow, much in the way that New York was the fifth main character in Sex and the City, informs everything about the show, coming across as the absolute polar opposite to Twin Peaks, populated by a endless supply of characters so quirky and cute that even the most cynical can’t but be won over.

Where millions of viewers on the CW lead, Netflix will follow, having snapped up the rights for four feature-length episodes that will debut over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, bringing spring, summer, autumn, and winter à la Gilmore Girls back to the small screen. Reuniting the principal cast with writer/director Amy Sherman-Palladino, whose absence towards the end of its run is widely credited for some of the poorer episodes, has the Internet abuzz like they’ve had more coffees than Gilmore senior, so now is the time to get watching before November.

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How long will it take to binge?

At seven seasons, the total run of episodes is 153, which runs to a total of 4 days, 16 hours and 12 seconds of television. That will likely take you more than two months to work through, even if you manage to watch a conservative two episodes per night.

Where can you binge it?

Those with a Netflix subscription can pay a visit to all seven seasons of Stars Hollow’s happiest disenfranchised single parent right now, though if you think it’ll take you more than five months to watch every episode it will be marginally cheaper to buy the boxset, which can be found for roughly €48 (without postage). But if it’s going to take you that long, you might as well head to your local library, many of which stock individual seasons.

Any hurdles to overcome?

One viewer’s cute and twee is another’s ho-hum drivel, so it will likely take some time to acclimate to the sugar sweetness of life in Stars Hollow. Which of those Schrodinger’s categories is hiding in the boxset will likely depend on how many episodes you can handle at the start, as the pilot is a bit of a mess. And then there’s the theme song, a saccharine and syrupy ballad belted out by Carole King. King recorded the song from her 1971 album Tapestry specifically for the show, and you can expect it to burrow its way into your memory and never leave.

Apart from that, you’ll have to take a stand on which of Rory’s boyfriends you actually like, which is pretty much the only thing Gilmore Girls fans are divided on.

Who steals the show?

Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel put it great work throughout the show, but before becoming the queen of foul-mouthed improvised comedy and getting an Oscar nomination, Melissa McCarthy put in a sterling supporting performance as Sookie St James, Lorelai’s accident-prone chef friend. The role made excellent use of McCarthy’s mastery of her physicality, offering many pratfalls, and fans are delighted she is returning to the show for its new episodes despite being one of the world’s biggest movie stars. But there’s no beating about the bush, the real scene stealer of Gilmore Girls is Kelly Bishop as Emily, Lorelai’s mother, who adds a gleeful sting into her lines as a stuck-up WASP. Slicing through the honey-soaked cutesiness, Emily is a much-needed bitter pill.

A scene to sample:

For a show renowned for having its cast perform mouthfuls of dialogue at breakneck speed, perhaps nothing captures it better than the 13th episode of the sixth season, Friday Night’s Alright for Fighting. As the family sits down to dinner, an epic argument erupts that perfectly encapsulates the show, without giving away too many spoilers.

What to follow up with once you’ve finished your binge?

The short-lived series Bunheads, also created by Sherman-Palladino, is worth seeking out if you find you need a fix of adorable Americana, and some more Emily Bishop. Otherwise, seek out Parenthood, Mike & Molly, and Supernatural, to catch up with what the cast did next, or bide your time till you’ll be giving thanks for Thanksgiving’s new episodes.

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