In Memoriam: Binge Watching Cease and Desist

It was a long journey, but I’ve finished Gilmore Girls. It was with mixed emotions because though I very much enjoyed it, as it grew towards the end of the series, it felt like it was time.

It’s funny because I started watching the show near the end of the summer and would play episode after episode while I worked in the background, applying for jobs and whatnot. It obviously slowed once I started working, so I think it took me longer to watch the final season than the other six combined.

For now, I won’t be jumping onto a new show anytime soon. I want to get on a reading kick, considering all the books I placed on hold are coming in at the same time. It’s overwhelming! There is nothing better, however, than sitting by the tree, curled up on the couch, with a fire going in the fireplace. I have a ton of books I want to read, so it’s time I got to it!

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In the coming weeks, there will be a lot of reviews to cover, but for now let’s focus on Gilmore Girls. Over the years, I watched an episode here or there, but it never captured my complete attention. It took me a few episodes to really get into it, but once I did, it turned into full blown binge mode.

The best part of the show is the relationship between Lorelei and Rory, mother and daughter for those who haven’t seen the show. Lorelei had Rory when she was 16 and raised her on her own, away from her wealthy, overbearing parents. For Lorelei and Rory, it’s the close friendship before parental relationship that is fun and works for 1% of the population. Rory happens to be this straight A, innocent 16 year old who is a breeze to raise and whose only real issues are boy troubles. It’s the whole, tv fantasy thing that allows it to be slightly believable and enjoyable.

Gilmore Girls contains all the aspects a successful tv show needs- relatable characters who you care about for better or worse, good traits and faults; familiar, comforting settings, such as Luke’s Diner, where the characters can return in order to break up momentous, show-altering events in order to alleviate stress for the audience; and quirky consistencies, characters, settings, and behaviors that an audience latches onto in order to remember and care about the show, for example the town where the majority of scenes takes place, Stars Hollow.

More so than with movies and theater, television allows an audience to grow and understand characters. It’s like Orange Is The New Black in that people have more sympathy for these characters in prison than they probably would for people in real life in these situations. We have a view of the minds of the characters, who they are, what their actions say about them, and we sympathize, whether or not we love or hate them. As long as the characters are fleshed out and an audience is invested in them, you can take them almost anywhere, with the thought that at least part of the core of that character remains.

Gilmore Girls was good in this sense because both the main characters, as well as the supporting ones who are just as loveable, undergo transitions from the first to last episode, yet by the end of the show, you still see similarities within them. The ending was not major, life-altering (for me or them), or overly significant, but I did have some teary moments. Listen, watching a season from start to finish is an investment. It’s sad that there’s no longer a journey to go on with these characters, but at least it didn’t end with a blank screen or everyone dead. You’re also left with a binge watching hangover that leaves you sleepy, fuzzy,and wondering why the hell you do things like this to yourself.

Many people talk about how unrealistic the show is with the premise and how seemingly perfect the characters are, even with their flaws, but I think it’s part of the quirkiness of the show. It wasn’t trying to be meaningful, and though it still had its moments of poignancy, it remained true to its cute qualities it flourished using. Another topic of contention was the dialogue because seemingly no one speaks so quickly or wittily within conversation. Again, I think you could say that about almost any show. Stumbling over words or thinking of the perfect thing to say after a conversation, are things that happen to me regularly, but it wouldn’t work in a show all the time. Dialogue has an opportunity to be perfect and smart on tv and it should be. So often, quality dialogue does not exist.

I say this for television, movies, and theater. It would not matter what a writer does to his/her characters, so long as the consumer cares about the characters and the dialogue is fluid and NOT cheesy. The most poignant and effective moments on television are inspired by subtlety. There are so many shows out there that I love the idea of, but cannot watch because the dialogue doesn’t make it feel real. Glee is a good example of this from where it was in season one to how it is now. When it first started, it was super effective because it was showing something that hadn’t been done before and was a great source of influence on a younger audience. The writers saw what they were capable of and completely messed it up by magnifying the subtlety and turning the show into a parody of itself. No offense to fans of Glee though…

I’m not saying Gilmore Girls was perfect or the best written show on television. There were definitely some moments through the show that made me cringe or roll my eyes, but that is the nature of a tv show made for a young female audience- and I’m not saying that’s right or wrong. It was an enjoyable show that was too easy to binge watch, and though I probably wasted an embarrassing amount of time streaming it, I’m glad I went back and watched it.

However silly it seems, I am sad to say goodbye to those characters and the cute town of Stars Hollow. It’s time I tap into my creative and intellectual side now and dive into all the books I have to read!

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