TV

A Show, a Lifestyle, a Religion: 20 'Gilmore Girls' Episodes to Make You Excited for the Revival

J.M. Suarez
Kelly Bishop, Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel in Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life.

Family matters and townie shenanigans are front and center in this list of Gilmore Girls faves.


Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life

Cast: Lauren Graham, Alexis Bledel, Kelly Bishop, Scott Patterson
Network: Netflix
Air date: 2016-11-25
Amazon

Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life is only a week away; there may not be time for a rewatch of all 154 episodes in preparation. The episodes below, however, offer a good primer to reacquaint oneself with what made the series so special. This list is obviously a personal one; others will surely balk at the episodes chosen, or feel their favorites have been left out. I've discounted any episodes from the last two seasons of the show, as the previous five provided more than enough episodes to choose from without the pall of creator / showrunner Amy Sherman-Palladino’s imminent and then eventual exit hanging over seasons six and seven.

As may also be obvious from the choices below, I favor episodes that revolve around the complicated relationship between Lorelai (Lauren Graham) and her mother Emily (Kelly Bishop), and that cement the bond between Lorelai and her daughter Rory (Alexis Bledel). I'm also biased in favor of episodes that place the town of Stars Hollow front and center, focus on diner owner Luke (Scott Patterson) and Lorelai's budding romance, and townie shenanigans. Regardless of your own preferences, though, the return of Gilmore Girls is both exciting and an excellent excuse to revisit episodes that remind you of the show’s singular appeal. "Where you lead, I will follow", Gilmores, so lead on…

"The Lorelais' First Day at Chilton" (1x02)

Although not the series pilot, "The Lorelais' First Day at Chilton" accomplishes much of the same in introducing the main cast and premise of the series. Chilton, Rory's prep school funded by a loan by her grandparents, looms large in the first half of Gilmore Girls, not only as the reason why Lorelai begrudgingly reconciles with her estranged parents, but the way it expands Rory's world outside of Stars Hollow. The episode also marks the introduction of Liza Weil's brilliant turn as Paris Geller, initially as Rory's nemesis. It's an excellent introduction to the series as it perfectly encapsulates Lorelai's relationships with both Emily and Rory, the three Gilmore girls of the series, and reaffirms Stars Hollow and its inhabitants as an integral part of the series.

"Rory's Birthday Parties" (Season 1, episode 6)

A terrific glimpse into Starts Hollow life, particularly as seen through the eyes of Richard (Edward Herrmann) and Emily, who visit to attend Rory's 16th birthday party. "Rory's Birthday Parties" is filled with townies galore, a budding romance between Rory and Dean Forrester (Jared Padalecki), and heartbreaking moments of realization for Emily. She'd already thrown Rory an upper crust birthday party, inviting classmates Rory barely knew and introducing her to Connecticut's high society.

As parties go, the two couldn't be more different, and Rory's comfort level (or lack thereof) is obvious in both. It's also an episode that's worth including for the scene in which Richard gamely takes a magazine quiz ("I am an autumn"). The sweet moment he has with Rory speaks to how easily they connect in contrast to his and Emily's difficult relationship with Lorelai, a running thread throughout the series.

"Forgiveness and Stuff" (Season 1, episode10)

"Forgiveness and Stuff" is an episode that builds on Rory's growing relationship with her grandparents, and Lorelai's reconnection with them when Richard has a health scare and is hospitalized. It's also a direct continuation of the events in the previous episode, "Rory's Dance", one that exemplifies Lorelai and Emily's shifting dynamic, but has them at odds again by the end.

Similarly, there's lingering tension between Lorelai and Rory, but it's Richard's hospitalization that brings them all together and cements the deepening relationships among the Gilmores. Plus, there's a truly disgusting Santa burger, made for Lorelai by Luke, in this episode.

"Concert Interruptus" (Season 1, episode 13)

One of the Gilmore Girls' greatest gifts is its excellent use of music throughout its run. Distinctive la-la music cues by Sam Phillips, regular troubadour performances by Grant-Lee Phillips, and all-around great music choices abound. There have also been appearances by plenty of musical artists over the years. "Concert Interruptus" boasts one by The Bangles when Lorelai, Rory, Sookie (Melissa McCarthy), take Chilton classmates Paris, Madeline (Shelley Cole), and Louise (Teal Redmann) to a concert in New York City.

The band's performance is a highlight, but there are also some lovely scenes between Rory and Paris that point to their growing friendship; Lorelai's curiosity about Luke's ex-girlfriend makes for some especially great banter with Sookie. It's also an episode that again reaffirms Lorelai's choices in raising Rory, despite her own youth; however hip and young she may appear, Lorelai's always a mother first, a point the series would make again and again.

"The Road Trip to Harvard" (Season 2, episode 4)

When Lorelai panics on the eve of her wedding to Max Medina (Scott Cohen), she takes Rory on an impromptu road trip to Harvard without telling anyone. Although "The Road Trip to Harvard" features plenty of Gilmore shenanigans -- they continually make fun of their bed and breakfast décor and try to escape run-ins with other guests at all costs -- they also explore Harvard. It's certainly an opportunity for Rory to see the place she’s been dreaming of since she was too young to even consider college, but it also serves as a bittersweet reminder of all Lorelai has sacrificed, including her own education.

Gilmore Girls has always made it clear that Lorelai doesn't regret her decision to have Rory so young, but it also doesn't shy away from the very real costs of that decision.

"Run Away, Little Boy" (Season 2, episode 9)

"Run Away, Little Boy" keeps Lorelai and Rory separate to deal with their own issues for much of the episode. Rory's struggle in dealing with an assignment-obsessed Paris invading Stars Hollow, along with classmate Tristan duGray's (Chad Michael Murray) continued pursuit of her, culminates in confrontations with both Dean and Tristan, and Tristan eventually leaving school. Meanwhile, Lorelai is still coming to terms with her breakup from Max after getting a late wedding present, jumping back into dating in a misguided attempt to move on.

The entertaining re-imaginings of Romeo and Juliet at Chilton are a highlight, particularly when Paris has to step in at the last minute to replace Tristan as Romeo to Rory's Juliet. The episode also brings to the fore how much Lorelai depends on Luke and the rest of the town as her support system, an ongoing theme in the series.

"The Bracebridge Dinner" (Season 2, episode 10)

When the Bracebridge group, who'd rented the entire Independence Inn (Lorelai's place of employment) cancels at the last minute, Lorelai and Sookie decide not to waste all their hard work and instead open up the inn to the town. What follows is a ridiculous 19th century dinner with Sookie’s fiancé Jackson (Jackson Douglas) as squire (he's the only one who fits the costume), complete with a last-minute drop-in from Paris, an unexpectedly giddy Richard, and a wary Emily. Reluctant guests Luke and Jess (Milo Ventimiglia) are seated, much to their chagrin, alongside townies Babette (Sally Struthers) and Morey (Ted Rooney), fellow Independence Inn employee Michel (Yanic Truesdale), town selectman Taylor (Michael Winters), Miss Patty (Liz Torres), Kirk (Sean Gunn), and Paris.

It's the kind of free-for-all that marks Stars Hollow as the quirky town at the center of Gilmore Girls, but it also includes the bombshell that Richard's quit his job without telling Emily, while Jess's mom didn't ask him home for the winter break, and Lorelai struggles with Rory’s erstwhile father Christopher's (David Sutcliff) request for Rory to spend her break with him. That "The Bracebridge Dinner" also includes a Bjork snowwoman and Sookie's always-funny panicked cooking speaks to the series' wonderful balance of humor and drama.

"There's the Rub" (Season 2, episode 16)

"There’s the Rub" offers one of the best episodes to showcase the complex relationship between Emily and Lorelai, by putting them together in a spa for the weekend, in which they unsurprisingly fight and unexpectedly bond. One of the series' greatest strengths has been its ability to balance the constant back and forth inherent in the Lorelai and Emily relationship. No matter how frustrating it could be to see them continuously take one step forward and two steps back, the series managed to find the line in which those struggles existed without going over very often.

This episode also features the surprisingly entertaining trio of Rory, Jess, and Paris debating books and french fry condiments, all while Rory desperately tries to relax in a rare evening at home alone.

"They Shoot Gilmores, Don't They?" (Season 3, episode 7)

This is a quintessential Gilmore Girls episode, "They Shoot Gilmores, Don't They?" revolves around a Stars Hollow dance marathon. It's everything that the series does so well: kooky town event plus plenty of Gilmore drama with enough hilarity and unexpected hijinks to round out the whole thing. The Dean / Rory / Jess love triangle comes to a head when Dean breaks up with Rory on the dance floor.

Meanwhile, Jackson and Sookie argue over how many kids to have, Luke comes to Lorelai's rescue when the heel on her shoe breaks, and Kirk's competitive streak coupled with Taylor's control streak make for an especially lively episode.

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From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

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Music

The Best Dance Tracks of 2017

Photo: Murielle Victorine Scherre (Courtesy of Big Beat Press)

From the "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique to Stockholm Noir's brilliant string of darkly foreboding, electro-licked singles, here are ten selections that represent some of the more intriguing dance offerings of 2017.

In June of 2016, prolific producer Diplo lambasted the world of DJ's in an interview with Billboard, stating that EDM was dying. Coincidentally enough, the article's contents went viral and made their way into Vice Media's electronic music and culture channel Thump, which closed its doors after four years this summer amid company-wide layoffs. Months earlier, electronic music giant SFX Entertainment filed bankruptcy and reemerged as Lifestyle, Inc., shunning the term "EDM".

So here we are at the end of 2017, and the internet is still a flurry with articles declaring that Electronic Dance Music is rotting from the inside out and DJ culture is dying on the vine, devoured by corporate greed. That might all well be the case, but electronic music isn't disappearing into the night without a fight as witnessed by the endless parade of emerging artists on the scene, the rise of North America's first Electro Parade in Montréal, and the inaugural Electronic Music Awards in Los Angeles this past September.

For every insipid, automaton disc jockey-producer, there are innovative minds like Anna Lunoe, Four Tet, and the Black Madonna, whose eclectic, infectious sets display impeccable taste, a wealth of knowledge, and boundless creativity. Over the past few years, many underground artists have been thrust into the mainstream spotlight and lost the je ne sais quoi that made them unique. Regardless, there will always be new musicians, producers, singers, and visionaries to replace them, those who bring something novel to the table or tip a hat to their predecessors in a way that steps beyond homage and exhilarates as it did decades before.

As electronic music continues to evolve and its endless sub-genres continue to expand, so do fickle tastes, and preferences become more and more subjective with a seemingly endless list of artists to sift through. With so much music to digest, its no wonder that many artists remain under the radar. This list hopes to remedy that injustice and celebrate tracks both indie and mainstream. From the "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique to Stockholm Noir's brilliant string of darkly foreboding, electro-licked singles, here are ten selections that represent some of the more intriguing dance offerings of 2017.

10. Moullinex - “Work It Out (feat. Fritz Helder)”

Taken from Portuguese producer, DJ, and multi-instrumentalist Luis Clara Gomes' third album Hypersex, "Work It Out" like all of its surrounding companions is a self-proclaimed, "collective love letter to club culture, and a celebration of love, inclusion and difference." Dance music has always seemingly been a safe haven for "misfits" standing on the edge of the mainstream, and while EDM manufactured sheen might have taken the piss out of the scene, Hypersex still revels in that defiant, yet warm and inviting attitude.

Like a cheeky homage to Rick James and the late, great High Priest of Pop, Prince, this delectably filthy, sexually charged track with its nasty, funk-drenched bass line, couldn't have found a more flawless messenger than former Azari & III member Fritz Helder. As the radiant, gender-fluid artist sings, "you better work your shit out", this album highlight becomes an anthem for all those who refuse to bow down to BS. Without any accompanying visuals, the track is electro-funk perfection, but the video, with its ruby-red, penile glitter canon, kicks the whole thing up a notch.

9. Touch Sensitive - “Veronica”

The neon-streaked days of roller rinks and turtlenecks, leg warmers and popped polo collars have come and gone, but you wouldn't think so listening to Michael "Touch Sensitive" Di Francesco's dazzling debut Visions. The Sydney-based DJ/producer's long-awaited LP and its lead single "Lay Down", which shot to the top of the Hype Machine charts, are as retro-gazing as they are distinctly modern, with nods to everything from nu disco to slo-mo house.

Featuring a sample lifted from 90s DJ and producer Paul Johnson's "So Much (So Much Mix)," the New Jack-kissed "Veronica" owns the dance floor. While the conversational interplay between the sexed-up couple is anything but profound, there is no denying its charms, however laughably awkward. While not everything on Visions is as instantly arresting, it is a testament to Di Francesco's talents that everything old sounds so damn fresh again.

8. Gourmet - “Delicious”

Neither Gourmet's defiantly eccentric, nine-track debut Cashmere, nor its subsequent singles, "There You Go" or "Yellow" gave any indication that the South African purveyor of "spaghetti pop" would drop one of the year's sassiest club tracks, but there you have it. The Cape Town-based artist, part of oil-slick, independent label 1991's diminutive roster, flagrantly disregards expectation on his latest outing, channeling the Scissor Sisters at their most gloriously bitchy best, Ratchet-era Shamir, and the shimmering dance-pop of UK singer-producer Joe Flory, aka Amateur Best.

With an amusingly detached delivery that rivals Ben Stein's droning roll call in Ferris Bueller's Day Off , he sings "I just want to dance, and fuck, and fly, and try, and fail, and try again…hold up," against a squelchy bass line and stabbing synths. When the percussive noise of what sounds like a triangle dinner bell appears within the mix, one can't help but think that Gourmet is simply winking at his audience, as if to say, "dinner is served."

7. Pouvoir Magique - “Chalawan”

Like a psychoactive ayahuasca brew, the intoxicating "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique's LP Disparition, is an exhilarating trip into unfamiliar territory. Formed in November of 2011, "Magic Power" is the musical project of Clément Vincent and Bertrand Cerruti, who over the years, have cleverly merged several millennia of songs from around the world with 21st-century beats and widescreen electro textures. Lest ye be worried, this is anything but Deep Forest.

In the spring of 2013, Pouvoir Magique co-founded the "Mawimbi" collective, a project designed to unite African musical heritage with contemporary soundscapes, and released two EPs. Within days of launching their label Musiques de Sphères, the duo's studio was burglarized and a hard drive with six years of painstakingly curated material had vanished. After tracking down demos they shared with friends before their final stages of completion, Clément and Bertrand reconstructed an album of 12 tracks.

Unfinished though they might be, each song is a marvelous thing to behold. Their stunning 2016 single "Eclipse," with its cinematic video, might have been one of the most immediate songs on the record, but it's the pulsing "Chalawan," with its guttural howls, fluttering flute-like passages, and driving, hypnotic beats that truly mesmerizes.

6. Purple Disco Machine - “Body Funk” & “Devil In Me” (TIE)

Whenever a bevy of guest artists appears on a debut record, it's often best to approach the project with caution. 85% of the time, the collaborative partners either overshadow the proceedings or detract from the vision of the musician whose name is emblazoned across the top of the LP. There are, however, pleasant exceptions to the rule and Tino Piontek's Soulmatic is one of the year's most delightfully cohesive offerings. The Dresden-born Deep Funk innovator, aka Purple Disco Machine, has risen to international status since 2009, releasing one spectacular track and remix after another. It should go without saying that this long-awaited collection, featuring everyone from Kool Keith to Faithless and Boris D'lugosch, is ripe with memorable highlights.

The saucy, soaring "Mistress" shines a spotlight on the stellar pipes of "UK soul hurricane" Hannah Williams. While it might be a crowning moment within the set, its the strutting discofied "Body Funk", and the album's first single, "Devil In Me", that linger long after the record has stopped spinning. The former track with its camptastic fusion of '80s Sylvester gone 1940s military march, and the latter anthem, a soulful stunner that samples the 1968 Stax hit "Private Number", and features the vocal talents of Duane Harden and Joe Killington, feels like an unearthed classic. Without a doubt, the German DJ's debut is one of the best dance records of the year.

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