The show first brought my cousins and me together over a decade ago. This week, it’s giving us that gift again.
The first time I was introduced to Stars Hollow, I was curled in front of the TV with a 101-degree fever while my mom force-fed me chicken noodle soup. My older cousin Victoria (whom I call Paris, after Rory’s brash, headstrong friend) came over to cheer me up by bringing a boxed set of DVDs called “Gilmore Girls.”
She shoved season one in my face and pointed to the two women on the cover. “Lorelai!!” Paris said, her voice always three volumes louder than a normal speaking tone. She placed her finger on Alexis Bledel. “She’s the daughter and goes by ‘Rory’ for short. That’s all you need to know.” I didn’t have the energy to ask questions, and quite frankly, she just would have shot them down until I gave at least five episodes a chance.
Despite my miserable sick state and the fact that this happened 12 years ago, I never forgot that day. At the time, everything from Luke’s Diner to Lorelai experiencing the first snow of the season made me feel I was a part of something I was yearning for. Little did I know that down the road, the show would be the very thing that saved my treasured relationships with Paris and my other cousin, Christina.
I was thirteen years old and hated my middle school with a passion. My shyness often held me back from joining social activities, in much the same way Rory struggled at Chilton. Rory was the first TV character I could actually relate to, making me realize that strong women come in all sorts of personality types.
The best part of my day was when Paris picked me up from school and she, Christina and I went back to their house and whipped up bowls of junk food (usually cookie dough) and watched “Gilmore Girls.” We talked about everything from our ambitions to how much our fellow students sucked. No matter how different and disconnected I felt from everyone else, I always knew Paris and Christina shared my sentiments. And, for an hour or two after school, we were able to escape to that magical town where we felt safe, and most of all, included.
In high school, we weren’t able to see each other everyday. Christina had a busy dance schedule, Victoria was in intensive SAT prep classes and I joined the school paper to try to stay busy. But we continued to hang out at least every few weeks, getting together for TV marathons and conversations that often turned into the kind of laughter that made our bellies hurt.
Paris was the first of us to go off to college, and during that time, Christina and I grew closer than ever. We got married on Facebook, bought matching clothes at the mall and took Photobooth pictures with the “best friends” banner over them. This time, it wasn’t just TV that brought us together—we bonded over “teenager-y” things like boys, friend drama and how annoying our family members were.
The first Thanksgiving Paris came home from college, C and I were filming ourselves singing the “Gilmore Girls” theme song, profusely giggling through every verse. Instead of joining in like old times, though, Paris—whom we later found out had just lost her virginity—stormed off and told us we were acting like children. Her words stung.
I was next to go off to college, and Christina and I vowed to remain best friends. We stuck to a regular Skype session every Sunday, during which I would fill her in on how drunk I got at random parties, the “cool” music my dude friends were listening to and how much I loathed “sorority biddies.” There were times when I could tell she was trying her best to follow along and share my excitement, but I knew deep down it was hard for her to understand my new life.
A year later, Christina went off to college. Within the first month, she rushed a sorority, which felt like a stab to my heart. My Facebook newsfeed began flooding with pictures of her and 20 identical girls making the same symbols with their hands while smiling gleefully.
Thanksgiving that year was extremely awkward—my conversation with Christina felt phony, and Paris and I uttered maybe three words to each other. The day before I went back to school—which I could hardly wait for at that point—Paris suggested we watch a “Gilmore Girls” episode, just the three of us. That, of course, turned into five episodes, and we began reminiscing about watching the episodes together in middle school and high school. Before we knew it, C and I were making fun of how much Paris was like Paris, and we couldn’t stop laughing. Even though we had clearly changed, the show helped us get to a place where we could relate to each other again.
After graduation, we all moved to different states. The reality of adult life meant we no longer had long breaks to look forward to spending time together.
A couple of years went by. I didn’t tell them a thing about the most unhappy year of my life, working 60-hour weeks at a cutthroat job. I didn’t tell them living in Los Angeles was slowly eroding my heart day by day—all they saw were the pictures on Facebook and assumed I was having the time of my life.
And all I saw of their lives was Victoria getting a huge promotion at work and Christina having a serious new boyfriend she didn’t bother to tell me about. I felt like I was failing in my career and love life and I couldn’t even muster up enough energy to be happy for them. When I ended up moving back to Chicago, I was afraid they would judge me and not understand why I abandoned my “dream.”
Shortly after I said goodbye to LA and that shitty year, news of a “Gilmore Girls” revival came out. Paris immediately group texted us (a thing we hadn’t done in years) and we began swapping theories about what would happen, who Rory would end up with and what odd job Kirk would have. Our conversation on the show spanned multiple days, and soon, we began talking about other things, like our day-t0-day lives—and not just the good stuff. Paris began telling me about how she felt like she was drowning in a soul-sucking job and Christina talked about her failing relationship. I realized it was easy to judge their lives based on my superficial impressions. It was so easy to make assumptions, but in reality, I had no clue what was really going on.
I began telling them about my new job and how moving back to Chicago was the best thing I ever did. Instead of judging me—the reaction I’d feared—they instead told me how much they admired me. Underneath the surface, we were all struggling with the same exact thing: just trying to find ourselves in a chaotic world. The plaguing loneliness I felt during the past couple of years had suddenly vanished. I realized my cousins were my ride or die—or as I like to say, the Lorelai and Paris to my Rory.
We knew we had to watch “Gilmore Girls: A Year In the Life” together. For the first time in four years, Christina, Paris and I will be together again, just the three of us. We’re spending two entire weeks together to catch up, gossip and of course, fall in love with the show that brought us together all over again.
“Gilmore Girls” is a show about women, and it’s strengthened the relationships with the most supportive, badass and strong women in my own life. It goes to show there really is nothing a little dose of Gilmore-isms can’t heal.