Being unemployed has allowed me to again watch “Gilmore Girls” on DVD. I have the full seven seasons, all but the last of which I’d seen before starting the collection, and all of which had to wait for my job to end to serve any purpose beyond the pleasures of ownership and completeness.
Some people own homes; I have $140 to $350 worth of unwatched media from the WB.
My watching of the show once encouraged two girlfriends (by which I mean friends who are girls or, to be more specific, ex-girlfriends with whom I remained friendly) to also become fans (or at least watchers) of the show. It was a pleasure to chat with them about it, although I felt kind of gay doing it. And that’s not a juvenile and homophobic way of insulting the show and my behavior; it’s an acknowledgment that the show isn’t big with the macho, and that gossiping with girlfriends about the goings-on in twee little Stars Hollow, Conn., made me feel a bit effeminate.
That didn’t stop me, of course. I thought it was funny.
This time around it’s been funny to foist the show on people who aren’t fans and never will be, and funnier because I’m taunting these people with knowledge that would normally be seductive — if, apparently, we were talking about something other than this show.
I showed Rebecca the Gilmore girls, mother and daughter Lorelai and Rory, watching and talking about “Grey Gardens,” a documentary about another mother and daughter wobbling and warbling in extreme eccentricity around their crumbling Long Island estate. Rebecca loves the documentary, and she hated that the Gilmores also loved it.
I told Sean about how Rory Gilmore read and endorsed Dawn Powell — a neglected author Sean read and endorsed to me. (I have since read Dawn Powell and endorse her as well.) He reacted with such revulsion to the shared predilection that I never got around to telling him about the times his band of bands, Sonic Youth, was heard on the show and even appeared on it.
There’s something about “Gilmore Girls” that taints the coolest things past recommendation and all the way to co-option, and it’s probably not fair. If the cool kid in school likes Sonic Youth and discovers the uncool kid does as well, that’s a plus for the uncool kid. But if the cool kid discovers his parents like Sonic Youth, that’s a minus for Sonic Youth instead of a plus for the parents. The same dynamic is at work in love, where an action can be either romantic or creepy depending whether a woman likes or does not like the man (to use the most common gender roles in this situation) sending the flowers, leaving the note, proposing a date, etc.
What bothers Rebecca and Sean and a legion of imagined others objecting to Lorelai and Rory liking anything from Bon Jovi to H.L. Mencken is the idea that the show is name dropping to seem cooler than it is without making a real commitment to a brand or lifestyle. That the show is glibly and superficially making claims to coolness without having done the work. That there is no Rory to actually read Dawn Powell, no Lorelai to truly watch and rewatch “Gray Gardens.”
Or maybe the problem is simply that “Gilmore Girls” is so irritating — its manic chatter, occasionally schizophrenic and bizarre behavior, syrupy theme song — that people cringe to find they have something in common with it and its creators.
Too bad, though, because these aren’t so much examples of deals with the devil as they are hints that the devil, too, has a good side. A pop culture reference by Oprah or on “Gilmore Girls” directs the attention of untold millions to greatness, allowing them to share it. But the devil’s good works corrupt, because the devil is too powerful and dilutes the cool to lukewarm. (There are Gilmore Girls reading lists on the Internet, but they tellingly include books seen on the show to illustrate lowbrow tastes, which are Lorelai’s, as well as stuff such as Dawn Powell read by Rory. Is there no discrimination?)
“Gilmore Girls” democratizes cool, but explosively, so your coffee shop is suddenly packed with people you don’t recognize, and the only seat you can find is crammed in between a fat, sweaty man visiting from Dubuque and a squalling tot who’s spit up breakfast. How can you enjoy your espresso like that?
You can convince yourself the newcomers can’t appreciate Dawn Powell or Sonic Youth the way you have, but this reasoning leads to the conclusion that disliking “Gilmore Girls” is a selfish, classist stance, held by an elite intent on withholding great culture from the masses.
Or it would were it not that I stalled on “Gilmore Girls” somewhere near the beginning of season three, not even halfway through the canon before finding myself wincing at the writing, angry with the characters, short-tempered over its tone. It really can be an immensely irritating show.
We’ll see if I can I make it through all seven seasons. I’d like to, for the sake of completeness, although watching certainly takes up time I could be using to, well, read or listen to music.