EVERY TUESDAY NIGHT, we’d repeat the same ritual: I’d scoop myself a big bowl of ice cream, settle into my dad’s ugly green couch, and wait for the phone to ring before turning on the TV.
“Are you watching? Okay, good. Me too.”
My mom called it “simul-casting,” i.e., simultaneously broadcasting new episodes from miles apart. We began the practice during Gilmore Girls’ fifth season, after stumbling upon some old reruns on the WB. My parents divorced when I was two, and ever since, Tuesdays had been my dad’s. So my mom and I would call each other from our distant couches, wondering if the Gilmores really drank dozens of cups of caffeinated coffee and if that had any correlation to the show’s chipmunk chatter dialogue.
Gilmore Girls’ premise is far-fetched and, admittedly, a little obnoxious: After getting pregnant with Rory (Alexis Bledel) at 16, Lorelei (Lauren Graham) leaves her WASP-y parents in Hartford for the small town of Stars Hollow, Connecticut, and works her way up from maid to manager of a quaint New England inn. For years they enjoy a comfortable life away from upper-crust Hartford, until Lorelei needs money to put Rory through private high school (and, later, college).
This proverbial safety net entangles them in high society livin’, and much to Lorelei’s dismay, Rory seems to enjoy the life she’d tried to abandon years before. There are some parts of the series that are downright insufferable; a continuing plot point I despise is the almost mystical emphasis placed on Lorelei and Rory’s trim figures and junk food diets. Abortion is never mentioned, which seems odd for a show that often discusses teen pregnancy (though in her college dorm room, Rory does hang a Planned Parenthood poster on her wall). And don’t even get me started about how creator Amy Sherman-Palladino treated Lane (Keiko Angena), Rory’s best friend. But what often deters new viewers first—the endless deluge of pop culture references and the stampeding conversational speeds—intoxicated me as an unsophisticated 12-year-old with a bedroom plastered with posters from U2’s Vertigo tour.
Most of all, Gilmore Girls was an escape. Simul-casting a new episode every Tuesday night felt like meeting my mom halfway in Stars Hollow. There’s something magnetic about the town—it’s full of loveable weirdoes like Kirk (Sean Gunn), the series’ best character. He’s in his thirties and still living in his mom’s basement, but holds 62 jobs around Stars Hollow throughout the course of the show (including swan deliveryman, dog walker, and wedding DJ). He also has time to pursue his many extracurricular passions, which include winning the town dance-a-thon and directing films, namely his unforgettable debut, A Film by Kirk. Peripheral characters like Kirk made Stars Hollow feel real—a little corner of an imagined world where a giant pickle spill could shut down the whole town.
My mom had always been my best friend. Sunday mornings I’d crawl in her bed with a book, and we’d read in our pajamas until the sun went down. While I reckoned with crippling depression and anxiety, friendless to the point that I ate lunch in the high school library, my mom started volunteering there—she’d wink cheekily and slip me chocolate bars while re-shelving books. She’s just the best person I know, and I love her tremendously. It’d be hard not to watch Gilmore Girls and see ourselves in Lorelei and Rory.
Things have changed since our early days of simul-casting. My mom works in a church in San Francisco, and spends the rest of her time ferrying my teenaged sister around to her many extracurricular activities. I’m grown-up, living up here in Portland and working at the Mercury. And now, new Gilmore Girls episodes aren’t airing on the WB or the CW, but on Netflix. But my mom and I are still best friends, and you’d better believe we’ll be simul-casting this week’s long-awaited return of Gilmore Girls.