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We’re re-watching Gilmore Girls (even though we should be watching shows we’ve already seen) because we love Gilmore Girls and we often have to re-watch it. Leeard, especially, re-watches this show far more than you’d think. Ern re-watches it about once a year. So why not give some quick reviews we might have given back in the day?
Episode 1 - Pilot
We meet mother and daughter, Lorelai and Rory Gilmore. We also meet Rory’s crush, Dean, and her best friend, Lane, as well as Lorelai’s blue-blooded, rich parents, Emily and Richard. The pilot is really wholesome and maybe a little slow, but it’s nice. The show is still working out the kinks, like Drella the harp player and the weird first design for Luke’s diner, but all of that gets fixed soon. In this episode, Gilmore Girls shows promise…to either become the great show it is known to be now or to become a lame, girls-only version of 7th Heaven. We immediately liked Lorelai. It took Ern YEARS to like Rory too. Ern will never love Richard (it’s so great when he goes out of town), but will always love Emily. One time in the series, Richard almost died, but he lived. Sigh. Leeard loves them all.
Episode grade: B
Episode 2 - The Lorelai’s First Day at Chilton
Rory starts Chilton and meets her archenemy (for a while, at least), Paris Gellar. We love Paris Gellar and always have. Keeping Paris on the show for so long was one of the best ideas this show ever had. This one is a little slower than the pilot, due to the tedious fighting between Lorelai and Emily over who will provide Rory with stuff she needs for school, and the Inn scenes start to wear on the viewers’ patience. Drella the harp player HAS to go. However, we catch our first sight of Kirk, arguably the funniest townsperson to be weird on the show. We also meet Tristan, a rich, bad boy who crushes on Rory. Sadly, he expresses his crush immaturely, by taunting Rory and calling her “Mary,” as in “Virgin Mary.” This means that Rory will never love him. She’s not into the bad boys…yet. Ern really liked him and thought something would happen there. But he had to go be on another show.
Episode grade: B-
Episode 3 - Kill Me Now
We see why this episode had to happen because it showed Rory bonding with her grandfather and Lorelai feeling threatened about that. But an extended golfing trip to Richard’s club? Mega snore. The redeeming parts of this episode were the irrational fight between Rory and Lorelai and the “doublemint twins.” Overall though, if you are trying to get into the show, one of us feels like this episode will just slow you down and make you wonder when it’s going to get addictive. The good writing, pop culture references, and humor are still on display, but this isn’t one that we love to re-watch. While you should hardly ever skip a Gilmore Girls episode, if you were going to, this would be one we wouldn’t mind you skipping.
Episode grade: C-
Episode 4 - The Deer Hunters
This is the first good episode of Gilmore Girls. The normally academically perfect Rory gets a D in English, so she spends a week cramming for a Shakespeare test. Sadly, she ends up being late, so she is not allowed to take the test. The good news is that Rory has a moderately good-looking English teacher who takes a liking to Lorelai, so Rory gets to do extra credit. We loved Rory’s little meltdown, Lorelai’s speech to “Il Duce,” and Lorelai telling Rory that Harvard doesn’t have to be her dream. It was all adorable, and while Luke is the obvious favorite for “love of Lorelai’s life,” Max Medina is a nice diversion until that can happen. This is the first episode that didn’t suffer from a slow pace. The thing with a deer running into Rory’s stopped car was fun too. Who would have thought of that? That seems like something that would have to have actually happened in order for the writers to think of it.
Episode grade: A-
Episode 5 - Cinnamon’s Wake
Lorelai agrees to date Mr. Medina, and Rory feels weird about it at first, but allows it. Rory lets Dean know that she’s as interested in him as he is in her. The neighbor’s cat dies, so the whole town holds a wake. This is a fine follow up to the events of "The Deer Hunters", and it brings much-needed development to the Rory/Dean relationship that was almost completely ignored since the pilot. Dean is the perfect first boyfriend for Rory. He moves at the right pace for an inexperienced girl. He’s also polite, sweet, open, and just ballsy enough to make things happen. The cat wake stuff might sound annoying, but it isn’t. In that town, it makes sense. It is around this time that viewers will probably wish to see more of Luke, the diner owner who is obviously in love with Lorelai, but this show is good for showing that sometimes there is Mr. Right and sometimes, to prepare you for the best guy, there is Mr. Right Now.
Episode grade: B+
Episode 6 - Rory’s Birthday Parties
Emily throws a 16th birthday party for Rory and invites all the Chilton kids without asking. Rory and the Chilton kids don’t get along well yet. Rory tries to go along with it, since Lorelai and Emily seem to be getting along for the first time in a while, but in the end, it’s too much. Rory ends up embarrassing Emily with a refusal to give a birthday speech coupled with some loud honesty. After Rory apologizes, Emily and Richard attend Rory’s real birthday party at Lorelai’s house, where Emily discovers that she doesn’t know Lorelai at all. It’s a little sad and probably the first time we feel for Emily. We have mixed feelings about this episode. On the one hand, the character development and humor are great, and there is some good stuff between Emily and Lorelai. On the other, the show’s slowness is back. The plot can really screech to a halt during these relationship-oriented episodes. We like that Rory isn’t perfect. She snapped under the pressure, like a lot of 16-year-old kids. While older people or more confident youngsters might think, “She should have just faked it, made the speech, sucked it up, and got out of there,” teens aren’t perfect and this show knows that.
Episode grade: B-
Episode 7 - Kiss and Tell
Dean kisses Rory in a supermarket (to which she responded "thank you"), and Lorelai has to find out from Rory’s best friend’s mom, Mrs. Kim. Lorelai then invites Dean to her house for pizza and a movie (Willy Wonka), much to Rory’s horror. The whole town seems pretty interested in Rory’s new romance, adding embarrassment to the awkwardness. It works out in the end though, with the movie night going splendidly. It’s all pretty perfect. Rory makes things right with her mom by telling her about the kiss. We loved the scene where Luke and Lorelai stalk Dean together. Lorelai and Rory’s humor is on grand display during the movie night, and if viewers didn’t already love Dean as a good first boyfriend for Rory, they will now. This episode is pretty Rory-centric, eschewing long Inn scenes and grandparent drama, which is a good thing for now. We also like seeing Lorelai fumble and become an awkward, real mom. The episode is cute, funny, entertaining, and perfect.
Episode grade: A-
Episode 8 - Love and War and Snow
Max Medina and Lorelai have their first date, and Rory spends the night with her grandparents, making them frozen pizza. Lane touches a boy’s hair and finds herself with no Rory to vent to. This episode is good if only for the Revolutionary War re-enactor dispute. And this Luke quote: “Tradition is a trap. It allows people to stick their head in the sand. Everything in the past was so quaint, so charming. Times were simpler. Kids didn't have sex. Neighbors knew each other. It's a freaking fairy tale. Things sucked then too. It just sucked without indoor plumbing.” We loved Lane needing her best friend, but Rory being consumed with Dean. It’s realistic. We’re pretty sure everyone in the world has been abandoned by a best friend who fell in love. It’s a good reminder to keep being a good friend, even when your life is temporarily perfect. Boys come and go, but Lanes remain forever. It’s so weird how older people can still hang onto old embarrassments and hurts so many years later. One thing we didn’t like was Lorelai talking to Lane and making it all about Lorelai. Then Lane said that Max has nice hair. He doesn’t. That’s the worst thing about him. Besides him not being Luke.
Episode grade: B
Episode 9 - Rory’s Dance
One of the reasons Rory is hard to relate to is the fact that her life is perfect. Perfect Mom, loving grandparents, quaint little town, smart, emotionally stable, surrounded by good books, Mom who sews her perfect clothes, perfect school, bright future ahead, wit, cool best friend, good taste in music, beautiful blue eyes, beautiful face, beautiful thin body and ability to keep it despite eating like a hog, tall, perfect guys wanting her all the time, problems that are quickly solved, and perfect first dance experience. Our first dances were more rap/hip hop and watching people grind on the dance floor, standing on the sideline, with no Dean on our arms. Ern’s dad actually WENT to her dance to spy. She saw his laughing head peeking through the window. Horrifying. Lorelai is the relatable Gilmore Girl, we think. Yeah, the dance night didn’t end perfectly, but it wasn’t Rory’s fault. This episode contains the first gut-wrenching, emotional scene on the show. It’s so perfect. It leaves you devastated and touched at the same time. It’s one of TV’s most perfect fights. We loved hearing Lorelai defend her daughter and her own life to Emily.
Episode grade: A
Episode 10- Forgiveness and Stuff
Richard has heart problems at the Christmas party Lorelai has been uninvited to by Emily. Lorelai meets her parents and daughter at the hospital, with Luke, leading to forgiveness and stuff. Sadly, Richard lives, but Lorelai and Luke spend quality time together, and Emily sees the obvious sparks. It’s a fine episode. Not as funny as most Gilmore Girls episodes, possibly because of all the heart problems. It’s sad that Lorelai feels like she has no good memories with her dad. That’s what happens when dads are more focused on business than daughters. We also liked watching Lorelai and Rory make up after their fight last week. You can also spot a younger, less funny Jane Lynch as a nurse who wants Emily to fill out forms. Hilariously, Luke “doesn’t like hospitals” and freaks out when the sick people are wheeled by.
Episode grade: B-
Episode 11- Paris is Burning
A Richardless episode, yay! Lorelai wants to break up with Max because she’s getting scared of how much she likes him, so she goes to Parents Day at Chilton. When Paris sees Lorelai kissing Max, she spreads it all over the school in order to deflect attention from her parents’ divorce to Rory. This leads Max to ask Lorelai to take a break, since the headmaster is upset with him. Lorelai is crushed, as are we. So yeah, in this episode, the Max Medina relationship is finally revisited. He gives her Proust to read. Dear Lord, why? Because he’s secretly the male version of Rory? This is Paris’s lowest, most-unlikeable episode. Generally, our love for her cannot be stopped. At least she was sorry. We liked seeing Lorelai’s imperfect side, losing her mind over a guy and insulting Sookie. We also liked the way Max didn’t want to take being dumped lying down. We also liked Rory insisting that Lorelai not blame her cold feet on her daughter, as well as Rory confronting Paris and reaching out to her. Rory is so mature and kind hearted. Dammit. Also, Sookie asks Jackson, her fruit vendor, out on a date, and he says yes. One of us is NOT a Sookie fan at all. Melissa McCarthy has done other, less annoying work. But her relationship with Jackson is bearable and gives her something to do besides be neurotic and noisy.
Episode grade: B+
Episode 12- Double Date
Lorelai and Sookie double date with Jackson and his cousin, who hates Lorelai (his blind date for the evening). Rune! Ruuuuune! He’s one of the funniest things in the first season. Sookie and Jackson do pretty well together, after Sookie’s nerves calm down. Lane thinks Dean’s friend, Todd, is dreamy, so Rory sets them up. Todd turns out to be an idiot, so when Lane is caught by her Tiger Mom for dating an unauthorized boy, the grounding is barely worth it in our eyes. The devastating thing about this episode is that Luke was this close to asking Lorelai to go out with him, but Mrs. Kim interrupted them at the worst moment, and then Luke chickened out the next time he saw her. Now, this is one of our favorite shows and we love the Luke/Lorelai relationship, but we also believe that, in real life, a guy would absolutely go for it if he liked the woman enough. This years-spanning wait for this couple to happen is weird, as are most will-they/won’t-they couples. In reality, it either happens pretty quickly, or it’s just not meant to be. Grown men aren’t that shy if they are remotely normal. Ugh. But, if we learned anything from this episode, it’s that Lorelai is a babe.
Episode grade: A
Episode 13- Concert Interruptus
There are a lot of dull shenanigans with Lorelai helping out with a charity rummage sale, but then the girls go see The Bangles live, taking three of Rory’s schoolmates, including Paris. This leads to Lorelai in full Mom Mode when two of the girls take off to hang out with hot, older guys. Rory and Paris are neither of those two girls because they are smart, nerdy, obedient, and not into looking “cool.” Plus, they are in love with Dean and Tristan, respectively. This experience bonds Paris and Rory a little, which is the point of this episode. The show knows that they need to become friends. Friends with occasional crazy, irrational fights, maybe, but friends nonetheless. It’s kind of a relief, at this point, to see some of that ice thaw. Props to Lorelai for getting some friends for Rory using concert tickets. Heck, we’d be friends with the nerdy girl too, if she provided us with free tickets to see live music. If you look carefully, you will see a young Brendan Routh (Superman Returns) as one of the hot guys Madeline and Louise hang out with. The Bangles are there too, obviously. We also hear about Luke’s ex, Rachel.
Episode grade: B
Episode 14- That Damn Donna Reed
After helping him re-paint his diner, Lorelai calls Luke over to “look for a baby chick.” To his surprise, Lorelai actually needed his help looking for a baby chick from Rory’s science project. Lorelai can’t admit to Sookie that she has a thing for Luke, even though they are about ready to make real moves on each other. Of course, Rachel and Christopher’s returns force them apart again. Rory and Dean fight about whether a woman should take care of her husband (including making him dinner) like Donna Reed in the 50s. Basically nothing material gets resolved or meaningfully explored, but Rory does dress up in a ridiculously cutesy outfit, make Dean dinner, and learn that Donna Reed was actually a businesswoman profiting off the backwards views of her time. Cool! The episode ends with Rory’s father, Christopher, rolling into town on his (of course) motorcycle. This episode was a nice time sucker. Did we really need an entire episode devoted to these events? This is the only show that can waste our lives with this much charm and entertainment value.
Episode grade: B
Episode 15- Christopher Returns
Rory’s dad comes home for a visit and tries to get Lorelai back. Since he’s in financial and personal ruin, Lorelai sends him packing. One of us has always had a special place of loathing in her heart for this episode and almost every episode with Christopher. He’s almost always annoying, whiney, and a letdown. He’s not evil or a bad father or anything, but he certainly tends to put distance between Luke and Lorelai, and he’s unreliable as a human. Yeah, it’s about time we met Rory’s dad. This episode had to happen. We also love the sweet high school memories that come up, as well as the childish fights he has with Lorelai. The Offspring v. Metallica moment where she rejected his proposal and told him to grow up is one of the show’s most perfect handlings of a serious, soapy situation. Also, The Offspring DOES have one chord progression. It was also great to see Francine and Straub, Christopher’s parents, who clash with the Gilmores and let the audience see how realistic and raw the discord in the Gilmore clan is. We know why Richard holds such a grudge against his daughter. We see the dashed dreams, failure to control teenage offspring firsthand, and hurt from Lorelai just running away from them. If we didn’t get to see it eventually, we would start thinking the Gilmore grandparents are dumb to act the way they do toward Lorelai.
Episode grade: B-
Episode 16- Star Crossed Lovers and Other Strangers
Hey, Rachel IS kind of an “Elle Macpherson kind of pretty.” Rory and Dean celebrate their three-month anniversary, but Dean dumps her after she doesn’t return his “I love you.” Luke’s ex, Rachel, returns to stay with him, and Lorelai realizes she still has feelings for Max. The worst thing about this episode is that Rachel is cool. And beautiful. And nice. And impossible to hate with a passion. Things aren’t easy, cliché, and clear-cut on this show. You see why Luke loves Rachel and why Lorelai welcomes her as well. The Dean/Rory breakup is the perfect thing to happen to this show at this point in the season, and it’s the perfect surprise after their enchanting day together. You don’t see it coming, so it’s effective. Also, Lorelai and Richard have a nice moment, which is a long time coming. He’s so distant with her and she’s not great with him either. Richard covers for Lorelai when she sneaks away from a boring blind date Emily set up for her. He was very wrong for Lorelai.
Episode grade: A+
Episode 17- The Breakup Part 2
When Rory finds herself unable to grieve, she decides to focus on getting work done. Lorelai tries to get Rory to wallow and keep the whole town off her back, since they know about the breakup and have demonized Dean. Rory goes to a Chilton party with Lane, where Lane meets a Korean future doctor she actually likes and Rory kisses Tristan. She immediately starts crying, leaves, and goes home to let her mother teach her how to wallow properly. While Rory is at the party, Lorelai reunites with Max and sleeps with him. The party portion of the episode and what followed it was great, but it was a little boring watching Rory avoid dealing with her emotions for about a half an hour. We loved when Luke tried to get into some sort of slap fight with Dean, and it was good to bring Max back at this point. The relationship has been moving at a glacial pace throughout the season, but it speeds up (and goes possibly too fast for viewers to get invested) after that.
Episode grade: B-
Episode 18- The Third Lorelai
Richard’s mother, the first Lorelai, comes to stay and sends Emily to crazytown. Emily can never get this woman’s approval, and Grandma Lorelai is pretty darn rude, bitching at every opportunity. Grandma Lorelai offers our Lorelai a way to finance Rory’s tuition without her parents, but Emily and Lorelai ruin it by acting like babies, so the offer is withdrawn. Meanwhile, Paris and Tristan go out on a date because Rory suggests it. Sorry Rory, it doesn’t work that way. You can’t make a guy be attracted to another girl, even if it makes more sense, when he really wants you. We dislike the first Lorelai. While she brings humor, she is the worst kid of unaccepting snob who certainly doesn’t teach her son and daughter-in-law how to be flexible and kind. Part of the reason this episode doesn’t reach A level is how disappointing and pointless it was that Lorelai lost the financial opportunity. We hate when TV shows dangle gamechangers in front of our faces and then snatch them away. We like that Emily has her daughter’s sarcasm, sense of humor, and mischievousness. No wonder they clash. While this was nowhere near the best episode of season one, it was the most-watched episode when it aired.
Episode grade: B-
Episode 19- Emily in Wonderland
Emily spends a day in Stars Hollow with Rory and sees the Inn, as well as the cottage Rory and Lorelai lived in when Lorelai was a teen mom. Emily has to leave immediately, hurt that her daughter would live in that little shack rather than with her. It’s just sad. You’d think that after 17 years, Emily’s wounds wouldn’t be so fresh, but they really are. We all know people who can’t move on from family drama, emotionally, so it’s cool to see it depicted realistically on a TV show. Why don’t parents ever understand that sometimes you need to be away from them, for your own sanity, and they can’t fix that? “Wouldn’t it be great if I could just make my mother hear me…just hear me…for one second.” Yep, a lot of us wish that about family members who either don’t understand on the level we want them to or can’t communicate that understanding. We loved Emily making Rory her own room, complete with an NSYNC poster. Aww, she doesn’t know Rory at all. This one’s a little slow, and not only was there a lot of Rachel, she is both getting closer to Luke and staying for a little while longer. Ugh.
Episode grade: B-
Episode 20- P.S. I Lo…
We love playing the game “One two three, he’s yours.” Ern likes to call it, “One two three, hit that.” Marry bang kill is by far the best of those kinds of games though. We loved Mrs. Kim pointing at Rory and Dean and saying, “I. See. All.” She is one of the funniest characters on this show, even now that Kirk is starting to appear more. Lorelai is fed up with not knowing why Rory and Dean broke up and why Rory is crabby. This leads to a fight, especially once Rory finds out that Lorelai is still secretly seeing Max. Rory goes to her grandparents’ house to get away from Lorelai and Lane, who Rory sees as overprotective. In the end, Lorelai talks to Rory about her inability to say those three important words. It’s been a while since the mother-daughter center of the show conflicted, and this is the first time it’s really felt welcome to me. It also shows that Rory is getting a lot closer to her grandparents than we would have anticipated at the start of the season. They are really family now because they are a safe place. It was really crappy of Rory to take off without telling her mom though.
Episode grade: A
Episode 21- Love, Daisies, and Troubadours
And the season ends with happiness and a cliffhanger. Max Medina proposes with a thousand daisies, Rory says “I love you, you idiot” to Dean, and Dean takes Rory back. It’s all very sweet and yellow. Our favorite scene is the one where Rory scares Dean’s little sister by interrogating her at Dean’s front door. We also liked the troubadour controversy and Rory’s speech. This is the episode where Max starts to seem less than perfect. There’s just something weird about him, especially during his fight with Lorelai about how they had slept with other people during their break. There’s just something off that might have cropped up later in the relationship. Plus, as you know by now, we are Luke fans. Finally, season two can start now. Season two is an improvement on season one. More happens, the side characters get more interesting, Kirk becomes more of a funny town fixture, and Jess Mariano comes to town, bringing plot advancement, humor, angst, and cuteness.
Episode grade: B+