Friday, April 20, 2018

The Gilmore Project: "Pilot"

The Project:

The Gilmore Project is an experiment in composition form. As a huge fan of the show Gilmore Girls, I have watched and rewatched the episodes several times over. During my last full viewing in early 2018, I noticed myself watching the show differently than I had in the past and realized that there was a lot of personal reflection being stimulated by the events of the show as well as the music and cultural references. As a result, I decided to start a journey in blog form...exploring each episode and how it resonated with me personally. 

Disclaimer: If you have not watched Gilmore Girls but plan to, you'll want to watch each episode before reading these posts. There will 100% of the time be spoilers. I'd be doing this wrong if there weren't. That's the nature of the beast.

The Episode:

Lorelai: Please, Luke. Please, please, please.
Luke: How many cups have you had this morning?
Lorelai: None.
Luke: Plus?
Lorelai: Five. But yours is better.
Luke: You have a problem.
Lorelai: Yes I do.

"Pilot" is the first episode of Gilmore Girls to air. It is the start of the entire Gilmore universe. It originally aired on the CW network in October of 2000. This episode introduces viewers to Lorelai Gilmore and her 15-year-old daughter, Rory (short for Lorelai...yes...her mother named her after herself). It sets the scene for the series, laying out the basics of character relationships. Lorelai and Rory discover that Rory has been accepted to the prestigious private school, Chilton. Lorelai runs into an issue with the ability to pay for tuition and ends up having to approach her wealthy parents (from whom she is somewhat estranged) for financial help. This results in an agreement for Friday night dinners with Richard and Emily Gilmore, Lorelai's parents, in exchange for their funding of Rory's tuition.

The Lorelai Angle:

I think this is where the project really began...with Lorelai. When the series first premiered, I was in my early 20's. I was in dental school and then, in the later seasons, just beginning to make my way in the "real world". Because of this, I often identified more with Rory than Lorelai, but really never found myself being solidly capable of feeling as if I truly belonged fully in either camp. That's still a bit true, as I can reflect back on things in my life that Rory's situation reminds me of, but now that I'm a bit (ahem) older, I find myself more fully thinking of myself as "a Lorelai" rather than "a Rory". 

The primary issue for Lorelai in this episode is one of money. Ah...isn't that just the continuing fun of being an adult? There are always "fun" financial surprises around every corner. As I watched the episode for today's post, we are dealing with the fun of unexpectedly replacing tires on our primary vehicle. There goes money straight out of savings. It seems that there are always things that crop up no matter how good you think they will finally get going. As Gary messaged me this afternoon, "we seem to be having our share of crap...I hope we get constipated soon." At least he has a way of making me laugh about it, but it's always something, isn't it? 

Paralleling closer to Lorelai's predicament, there was a time when I had to approach my own parents in need of financial help. At the time, I was not a child, but a fully capable adult (much like Lorelai). I owned my own house and I was holding down a job, but there just wasn't enough there to keep everything afloat. I was self-employed, which really was the crux of the problem. Running a business isn't always all it's cracked up to be. Yes, the scheduling freedom is nice and it's always good to control your own benefits, but it really blows when you have to sacrifice your own financial comfort in order to try and make things work. 

The 2008/2009 financial slump hit me and my business particularly hard. I've typically been pretty good with money and I was able to utilize my savings and restructure things a few times in order to scrimp and save where I needed to in order to keep things going. But sometimes there's only so much you can do. Ultimately, I found myself up against a wall, afraid that I would lose everything. Now...hindsight is 20/20 and I probably should have responded to this situation a bit differently than I did a the time, but I felt that I just had to keep making it all work. I needed help. 

In Lorelai's case, she really didn't want to approach her parents because they had a sticky history and an uncomfortable, somewhat obligatory, relationship. The assistance from her parents came with strings attached and, several times down the line, she was left feeling incompetent because she had deigned to approach them with the situation at all. This couldn't be farther from the truth for me. Luckily, I have a very good relationship with my parents. I'm able to talk to them about my life and I have nothing but respect for the way they've brought me up. Yes, we've had our moments, but overall I've always felt that they have been there to support and guide me. However, this good relationship did nothing to ease my apprehension about talking to them about my need for help. In fact, it may have made it worse, as I felt very strongly that I had failed. Like Lorelai, I tend to be a bit rooted in a need to provide for myself. I don't like handouts and I don't like feeling like I can't do something on my own. It was extremely difficult to swallow my pride.

The Rory Angle:

There are many ways in which Rory is me during my teenage years. I was studious and fairly shy (I'm still very much an introvert) and I didn't really have strong connections to a lot of people I went to school with. In fact, I think I'm probably just about as close to my high school classmates now (via the wonders of Facebook) as I was when I was sixteen. I suppose that could be read two different ways, but trust me when I tell you that this means that there are few relationships there that wouldn't merely land somewhere in the spectrum between acquaintance and friend. Don't get me wrong, they're not bad people...I'm just not much of a people person.

In this episode, Rory is shown in English class and the teacher gives them the option to complete their reading of the assigned Adventures of Huckleberry Finn or to work on the follow up essay. Rory is shown writing diligently while her female classmates are testing out nail polish and venturing guesses as to what she is working on.

Girl 1: Could be a love letter.
Girl 2: Or her diary.
Girl 3: Or a slam book.
Girl 4: It's the assignment.

Yep. that was me. Rory has already finished the reading and is focused on her schoolwork rather than social circles. This tendency to be more studious than social is hinted at a few other times during the episode, particularly when she is shown in conversation with her best friend, Lane. In my particular case, I was very much a studious teenager. Schoolwork was a priority and anything outside of that...well...often made me pretty uncomfortable (see the earlier mention of introvert). I really didn't have a best friend like Rory has in Lane due to a falling out with my long time best friend early in sophomore year, but I had a few closer friends that I did enjoy spending time with. Though I still keep in contact with a couple of them and I have developed good relationships with a few additional friends along the way, none has the lasting closeness that we see throughout the series between Rory and Lane. I'm a bit envious of that. 

This episode also introduces us to the character of Dean Forester. Rory meets him for the first time in the hallway of the high school as she is packing up her locker in preparation for the transfer to Chilton. It becomes pretty clear that she is interested in him as she (though earlier very excited about changing schools) tells Lorelai, "I'm not sure I want to go to Chilton. The timing's really bad." Ah...the old changing things for a boy.

While I certainly changed things about myself and the trajectory of my life several times along the way because of a boy...or a man...the big thing that hit me about this particular interaction was Lorelai's response to Rory's balking. During the subsequent argument between the two Gilmore girls, Lorelai hypothesizes that the boy has "dark hair, romantic eyes, looks a little dangerous?...Tattoos are good too," and then hollers, "Does he have a motorcycle? Because if you're going to throw your life away, he better have a motorcycle!" that reminds me of sixteen. 

You see, at sixteen, I was all the things previously mentioned. I was responsible and studious. I held a 4.0 GPA and a job. But during the summer I was sixteen, there was also a boy. A boy with dark hair and tattoos. He didn't have a motorcycle, but I think the fact that he was twenty-two and a Marine probably made up for that. (Besides, I'm sure at some point later in life he likely bought one. He's the type.) It was a summer fling that never went anywhere beyond a month or two, but how my dad didn't completely flip over the situation is beyond me. Props to him for that because that required a lot of trust in my ability to not be a complete idiot. That boy/man disappeared from my life as quickly as he entered it and though it's been a somewhat funny anecdote to my fairly lackluster dating history, I hadn't heard from him or seen anything of him in over twenty years. Funnily enough though, I actually discovered earlier this year via a post in my newsfeed (oh Facebook and your weird and sometimes wonderful randomness) that said boy/man is actually now in a long-term relationship with a friend of a high school friend. The world is sometimes very small.

Other Musings:

When I went through the episode in preparation for this post, I took notes. When I finished, I didn't think I had much. In the end, I wound up cutting about half of the information I had jotted down. This included a few snippets here and there that didn't lead to anything big and some simple things like acknowledging that hearing "There She Goes" by the La's in the intro did nothing but remind me of the Boo Radleys version from So I Married an Axe Murderer. I figure this is how a lot of these pieces will likely go. I won't be spewing out every thought I have, but rather focusing on a few things that presented a larger picture. Sometimes it will be serious, other times it will be silly or just plain stupid.

Like I mentioned in the first bit of this post, The Gilmore Project is an experiment. It's an adventure. I'm feeling it out as I go. So...please, feel free to provide me feedback where you see fit. What would you like to see more of/less of? Any things you'd like me to address that I don't even allude to? Crowdsourced creativity can sometimes be a very helpful thing.


  1. I really love this idea. I've watched all the seasons and A Year in the Life. I can relate to your high school experience as I was juggled between two schools while my parents shared custody. I never created those best friendships. I will look forward to these posts. Time to break out the series again!

    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed it! If nothing else, at least I'm inspiring someone to do a rewatch! :)

  2. Haven't watched much Gilmore girls myself but still found this interesting to read!

    1. Yay! I'm so glad! You should definitely give the show a whirl. I think it finds itself a good place in the hearts of just about everyone who watches it.


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