Gilmore Girls at 20: Why we still find wholesome comfort in Stars Hollow

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Every autumn, I rewatch Gilmore Girls. Whether I start right from the beginning or pick and choose an episode at random (thanks, Netflix), it’s become a yearly ritual, and I’m not alone in my tradition.

The first episode of Gilmore Girls aired in October 2000, introducing the world to fast-talking, coffee-loving Lorelai Gilmore (Lauren Graham), her precocious teenage daughter Rory (Alexis Bledel), and the other residents of Stars Hollow, a quirky, fictional small town in Connecticut. 

It begins with Rory winning a place at a prestigious private school in the next town –the only problem is, her single mother can’t afford the tuition fees. Lorelai reluctantly asks her wealthy but estranged parents (played perfectly by Kelly Bishop and Edward Herrmann) for help and they agree on the condition that Lorelai and Rory agree to come to dinner at their house every Friday.

Through seven seasons and 153 episodes, we see Rory go through high school and college – from her first kiss to graduation – and watch Lorelai progress through her career, as she takes business night classes and eventually buys her own inn with her best friend Sookie (Melissa McCarthy). Everything that happens is whimsical, with happy endings that make it pure escapism, while the sporadic doses of heartbreak and anger – from breakups to, admittedly always short-lived, mother-daughter feuds – stop it being too schmaltzy (just about). Those of us who made it through the series were bound to get attached to Stars Hollow’s residents.

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