Monday, May 14, 2007

They Shoot Gilmores, Don't They?

Tomorrow night I begin living in a post-Gilmore Girls era.

Yes, they are cancelling my favourite TV show. Gilmore Girls, the best show you never watched or assumed you wouldn't like, is going off the air after seven seasons tomorrow evening.

Being a man and saying you watch Gilmore Girls (to say nothing of having box sets) is kind of announcing that you have enrolled in a jazzercise class. Uncool. This was supposedly a TV show for teenage girls but it was actually a secret world for arcane pop-culture enthusiasts. The mother-daughter team once worried out loud that they would share the same fate as the Bouvier ladies from the Maysles' brothers' documentary Grey Gardens! A whole episode revolved around a marathon dance-off, just like They Shoot Horses, Don't They?

The scripts for every episode were about 20 pages longer than the standard for episodic TV drama - all because of the rapid-fire dialogue. And it took place in an incredibly detailed fictional hamlet in Connecticut, built on the Warner Bros backlot in Burbank where they used to film The Dukes of Hazzard and populated by characters out of a Preston Sturges film.

I did not get in on the ground floor on the show, though I was encouraged to do so, probably judging it by what it seemed to be and by its syrupy opening titles. I got into it when it hit syndication. It is not my usual practice to well up while watching television, let alone a comedy-drama series, but this show floored me several times over the years with its keen portrayal of class, feminism and the war between the generations. Some of the arguments between parents and children (and grandchildren) on the show were scorchers, like a fight out of an Arnaud Desplechin film. It amazed me that no one was devoting the time to praising the writing and performances on Gilmore as they were to, oh, The West Wing or The Sopranos. Maybe they will someday.

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