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The 10 Things to Look for in Your Gilmore Girls Rewatch

Photo: The CW

In advance of The Gilmore Girls’ triumphant arrival on Netflix October 1, and as a part of Vulture’s Streaming Week, we’ll be revisiting the show all week long. Please join us!

When Gilmore Girls lands on Netflix October 1, here’s hoping the floodgates open and bajillions of new fans avail themselves of the joys of Stars Hollow. Some of us, however, are lucky enough to have spent many years basking in the joys of the show — and we too will be making a return pilgrimage. This guide is for you, folks who have seen the show before. (Maybe even a few times, thanks to syndication and some free afternoons?) This is what to look for, enjoy, give the stink-eye to, and revel in when you rewatch GG; it’ll make the show feel new all over again.

No one on this show can hug.
Particularly Rory. Rory hugs are the bootleg movie mistranslations of human motion: It’s close, but it’s definitely not right. She doesn’t really have anyone to learn from, though; we very rarely see Lorelai hug anyone, and certainly never her parents. There’s also a lot of not-great TV kissing on this show — even when it’s characters you’re really rooting for, sometimes the kissing just seems off. Too much head-bobbing! Pick a place where you’re each gonna put your arms, and then do it right for take two! Especially Luke and Lorelai. They are constantly waggling their arms around like they can’t figure out a comfortable way to kiss. Life is not supposed to be this hard.

Lorelai is pretty rude, particularly when she is a customer.
She learned this from watching you, Emily. Even though Emily is the picture of decorum among her economic peers, she has a lot of really negative, nasty behavior directed towards, say, domestic workers. Lorelai probably wouldn’t admit that she picked up this crummy habit from her mom, but she did. When she scolds baristas (sorry, “coffee! coffee! coffee!” is not a polite way to order things, Lorelai!), berates a receptionist at an ER (dude, everyone is there for an emergency), or even demands that Luke arrange food on her plate her way (get therapy), it’s all just super rude. Lorelai is rude.

She’s also not very nice to Sookie.
Lorelai often treats Sookie like Sookie’s dumb. Which she is not! Sookie is great, but Lorelai dismisses her concerns, talks down to her, kinda-sorta takes advantage of her generosity, and makes all of Sookie’s life events about Lorelai instead.

Maybe some of this rubs off on the Rory/Lane relationship.
There’s an episode where Lane believes she is being shipped off to Korea. Permanently. And instead of saying a serious good-bye, a lovey-dovey Rory snuggles on a bench with Dean and just waves to Lane as she gets in a van. When Lane discovers she doesn’t want to have premarital sex, Rory just sits there and is like, “I’m gonna buy these books.” She also claims that many people wait for marriage, which is … false. (And was false when the episode aired, and for decades before that.) It is of course fine if Lane wants to wait, but Lane says that she doesn’t want to want to wait; ostensibly progressive, supportive Rory is just like, “But these books.” You deserve better, Lane!

Who is more at fault in how fraught their relationship is: Lorelai, or Emily and Richard?
Obviously the answer is that they have a complicated relationship, etc., etc., everyone is to blame, but every couple of rewatches, I change my mind as to who is more at fault. Obviously Richard and Emily did some serious damage when Lorelai was a kid. But now she’s a grown-up, and she often behaves incredibly poorly, and has strange, not-communicated expectations. We teach people how to treat us, you know?

Kirk is the only character with unpredictable emotions.
I guess the other characters have varied feelings here and there, but when we see Taylor, we know we’re in for some crumudgeoning. We know how Miss Patty will behave. Mrs. Kim, Sookie, Michel: Everyone has his or her go-to mode, except Kirk. Sometimes he’s joyful, sometimes he’s amiable, sometimes he’s livid. Maybe it’s the night terrors.

Notice how much other media makes it onscreen.
Not just in dialogue and references — real clips and performances and stuff: Fiddler on the Roof, Pippin, Swan Lake, countless movie clips (ugh, Pippi Longstocking), etc. Many other shows have pop references and lovingly crafted soundtracks, but rarely do we actually see these works in action.

Lorelai never has the same hair for more than two episodes in a row.
My God. She helped popularize what today I would call “fashion-blogger waves” — the big-barrel-curling-iron away-from-the-face loose curls — but she also went through serious flatironing phases, a variety of highlights, some very one-dimensional super-dark browns, a few off-auburns, and some springy, bouncy curls. Which doesn’t even scratch the surface of how many hairdos she went through, including overly pervasive pigtails. You’re a grown-ass woman. No more pigtails.

The richest, most powerful scenes are between Lorelai and Emily.
Gilmore Girls is a precious treasure to me, but sometimes I wonder what the show would be like if everyone could genuinely, truly act. Alexis Bledel was certainly a beautiful elf princess, but when I watch Parenthood and Lauren Graham is acting opposite heavy hitter Mae Whitman, I think, “Oh, what if GG could have been like this?” Blasphemy, whatever, I know. But this is why the scenes between Graham and Kelly Bishop stand out so much: They’re the rare scenes that barely need dialogue.

Happy Emily is the best part of the show.
Second best part: dancing Emily.

What to Look for in Your Gilmore Girls Rewatch