Gilmore Girls: The Complete Third Season

Mary Colgan

The casual, chatty extras capture the series' spirit: whimsical, free-spirited, and tinged with nostalgia.

Gilmore Girls

Distributor: Warner
Cast: Lauren Graham, Alexis Bledel, Melissa McCarthy, Keiko Agena, Yanic Truesdale, Scott Patterson, Edward Herrmann
Subtitle: The Complete Third Season
US Release Date: 2005-05-03
Amazon affiliate

"I want to just start by saying that I'm a very serious person," Sean Gunn (who plays Kirk) insists before demonstrating "The Robot" in "Our Favorite '80s: Favorite Era Dance Moves," a goofy DVD extra for the Gilmore Girls third season set. Refusing to groove for the camera, Melissa McCarthy (Sookie) protests, "This has nothing to do with anything!" Though she's right, the casual, chatty extras (including "All Grown Up," in which cast members discuss their childhoods) capture the series' spirit: whimsical, free-spirited, and tinged with nostalgia.

In the series, close-knit mother and daughter Lorelai (Lauren Graham) and Rory (Alexis Bledel) work toward brighter futures in quirky small town Stars Hollow, Connecticut. Now available on DVD, Gilmore Girls: The Complete Third Season chronicles the year their work pays off, with Rory's acceptance to three Ivy League schools and Lorelai's opportunity to open her own inn. Lorelai, pregnant at 16, has spent her adult life ensuring that Rory will have more success in education, career, and love, than she has had. Now that Rory is leaving the nest, the Gilmores must find independence from each other.

In this way, Gilmore Girls sets itself apart from other parent/child dramas, like Everwood. Though on the surface these two shows are boy and girl versions of the same premise (single parents remove their exceptional children to small town havens), Everwood tells the more standard story of an estranged teenager and his parent finding common ground and connection. In contrast, Lorelai and Rory have spent 17 years building a self-sustained two-person society, impenetrable even to best friends, boyfriends, and Rory's father Christopher (David Sutcliffe).

As Gilmore Girls is about a mother and daughter living without men, it necessarily explores female independence. But the show rejects the notion that women find independence by taking on traditionally masculine roles. The Gilmores revel in their girliness: "I'm a girl and we're supposed to throw like this," Rory declares before ineptly chucking a ball in a game at the Winter Carnival (she wins anyway). However, they don't subscribe to the traditionally feminine either. Though they never set foot in their garage and Lorelai traps a spider under a cup and considers "giving it the kitchen," they also eat like they're preparing for hibernation, and rarely do their own cooking ("I will put this right on the counter, and stare at it for many years to come," Lorelai says when her mother gives her scone mix). Instead, protected from the outside world by the two-layered forcefield of home and Stars Hollow, the Gilmores are free to form their own definitions. At times, they seem to be a single entity, voicing each other's thoughts and finishing each other's sentences.

Because no one can compete with their connection, romance has previously taken a backseat to the mother/daughter relationship. In Season Three, boys are beginning to play more central roles. (Fans can relive the coupley bliss and angst in "Who Wants to Fall in Love?" a montage of the season's "best romantic moments.") For Lorelai, this involves deepening her "will-they-won't-they" relationship with curmudgeony diner owner Luke (Scott Patterson).

In "They Shoot Gilmores, Don't They?" Lorelai asks Luke to fix her shoe during a dance contest ("Do I look like a cobbler to you?" he grumbles. "If I say yes, will you fix my shoe?" she begs). As he does so, they discuss children, agreeing a baby would be nice if they "ever happen to meet the right person." They briefly share charged eye contact before Luke remembers himself and goes back to gluing her shoe. As Lorelai and Luke's coupledom draws closer (it will take another full season to officially begin), it becomes clear that Lorelai's future is tied to Stars Hollow.

Luke's too-cool-for-school nephew Jess (Milo Ventimiglia), on the other hand, tempts Rory away from small-town life (and her mother). Smart, sarcastic, and hell-bent on snagging Rory from her puppyish boyfriend Dean (Jared Padalecki), Jess brings the cynical, dangerous outside world into the Gilmores' utopia, fascinating Rory and inciting Lorelai's ire. Lorelai, accustomed to Rory's good sense, can't comprehend her daughter's first bad boy phase.

As Lorelai asserted her independence by moving two-year-old Rory to Stars Hollow, Rory must now shed her golden-child skin and become her own entity. However, since Rory's identity is entwined with her mother's, to do so is to dismantle her understanding of herself. For this reason, Rory makes independent decisions in stages, taking two steps forward, then a quick hop back. It isn't until Dean publicly calls her out for her obvious Jess-lust that she acts on her feelings. Though he's a far inferior boyfriend (Dean built Rory a car, Jess later crashed it), Rory's relationship with Jess allows her to be deceptive and guided by instinct. In short, more complex than we've seen her before.

As Rory becomes more layered, she also veers (slightly) from the path she and her mother set for her. Ever since six-year-old Rory rooted for Harvard in cheerleading class, the Gilmores' Rory's-going-to-Harvard quest has been a defining element of their lives. Succeeding in this quest will prove they need nothing more than each other. To ensure Rory's success, Lorelai accepts financial help from her parents (in exchange for her and Rory's presence at Friday night dinners), but she fights tooth-and-nail to limit their influence on Rory's life. So when Rory decides to apply to (and ultimately attend) Yale, her grandfather's (Edward Herrmann) alma mater, Lorelai is unreasonably threatened: "For seventeen years, she was going to Harvard, and now all of a sudden, she's applied to Yale and she's mimicking everything you say. This is just crazy."

Despite the women's evolving dynamic, Gilmore Girls retains its first-season charm, stuffing the scripts with pop culture references (the DVD set includes a helpful manual, "Your Guide to Gilmore-isms") and appearances by Stars Hollow locals. By season's end, things have returned to the status quo. Jess leaves, and Rory handles it with trademark reason ("I think I may have loved you, but I just need to let it go") and Lorelai tamps down her attraction to Luke for another season. But the issues broached this season are mere hints of eruptions yet to come. Gilmore Girls has grown up along with Rory, and as she becomes deeper, braver, and more complex, the show follows suit.





Run the Jewels - "Ooh LA LA" (Singles Going Steady)

Run the Jewels' "Ooh LA LA" may hit with old-school hip-hop swagger, but it also frustratingly affirms misogynistic bro-culture.


New Translation of Balzac's 'Lost Illusions' Captivates

More than just a tale of one man's fall, Balzac's Lost Illusions charts how literature becomes another commodity in a system that demands backroom deals, moral compromise, and connections.


Protomartyr - "Processed by the Boys" (Singles Going Steady)

Protomartyr's "Processed By the Boys" is a gripping spin on reality as we know it, and here, the revolution is being televised.


Go-Go's Bassist Kathy Valentine Is on the "Write" Track After a Rock-Hard Life

The '80s were a wild and crazy time also filled with troubles, heartbreak and disappointment for Go-Go's bass player-guitarist Kathy Valentine, who covers many of those moments in her intriguing dual project that she discusses in this freewheeling interview.


New Brain Trajectory: An Interview With Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree

Two guitarists, Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree make an album largely absent of guitar playing and enter into a bold new phase of their careers. "We want to take this wherever we can and be free of genre restraints," says Lee Ranaldo.


'Trans Power' Is a Celebration of Radical Power and Beauty

Juno Roche's Trans Power discusses trans identity not as a passageway between one of two linear destinations, but as a destination of its own.


Yves Tumor Soars With 'Heaven to a Tortured Mind'

On Heaven to a Tortured Mind, Yves Tumor relishes his shift to microphone caressing rock star. Here he steps out of his sonic chrysalis, dons some shiny black wings and soars.


Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras' tētēma Don't Hit the Mark on 'Necroscape'

tētēma's Necroscape has some highlights and some interesting ambiance, but ultimately it's a catalog of misses for Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras.


M. Ward Offers Comforting Escapism on 'Migration Stories'

Although M. Ward didn't plan the songs on Migration Stories for this pandemic, they're still capable of acting as a balm in these dark hours.


Parsonsfield Add Indie Pop to Their Folk on 'Happy Hour on the Floor'

Happy Hour on the Floor is a considerable departure from Parsonsfield's acclaimed rustic folk sound signaling their indie-pop orientation. Parsonsfield remind their audience to bestow gratitude and practice happiness: a truly welcomed exaltation.


JARV IS... - "House Music All Night Long" (Singles Going Steady)

"House Music All Night Long" is a song our inner, self-isolated freaks can jive to. JARV IS... cleverly captures how dazed and confused some of us may feel over the current pandemic, trapped in our homes.


All Kinds of Time: Adam Schlesinger's Pursuit of Pure, Peerless Pop

Adam Schlesinger was a poet laureate of pure pop music. There was never a melody too bright, a lyrical conceit too playfully dumb, or a vibe full of radiation that he would shy away from. His sudden passing from COVID-19 means one of the brightest stars in the power-pop universe has suddenly dimmed.


Folkie Eliza Gilkyson Turns Up the Heat on '2020'

Eliza Gilkyson aims to inspire the troops of resistance on her superb new album, 2020. The ten songs serve as a rallying cry for the long haul.


Human Impact Hit Home with a Seismic First Album From a Veteran Lineup

On their self-titled debut, Human Impact provide a soundtrack for this dislocated moment where both humanity and nature are crying out for relief.


Monophonics Are an Ardent Blast of True Rock 'n' Soul on 'It's Only Us'

The third time's the charm as Bay Area soul sextet Monophonics release their shiniest record yet in It's Only Us.


'Slay the Dragon' Is a Road Map of the GOP's Methods for Dividing and Conquering American Democracy

If a time traveler from the past wanted to learn how to subvert democracy for a few million bucks, gerrymandering documentary Slay the Dragon would be a superb guide.


Bobby Previte / Jamie Saft / Nels Cline: Music from the Early 21st Century

A power-trio of electric guitar, keyboards, and drums takes on the challenge of free improvisation—but using primarily elements of rock and electronica as strongly as the usual creative music or jazz. The result is focused.


Does Inclusivity Mean That Everyone Does the Same Thing?

What is the meaning of diversity in today's world? Russell Jacoby raises and addresses some pertinent questions in his latest work, On Diversity.

Collapse Expand Reviews
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.