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Screwball Television

Critical Perspectives on Gilmore Girls

Edited by David Scott Diffrient with David Lavery

Publication Year: 2010

Bringing together seventeen original essays by scholars from around the world, Screwball Television offers a variety of international perspectives on Gilmore Girls (WB/CW, 2000–2007). Adored by fans and celebrated by critics for its sophisticated wordplay and compelling portrayal of a mother-daughter relationship, this contemporary American TV program finally gets its due as a cultural production unlike any other— one that is beholden to Hollywood’s screwball comedies of the 1930s, steeped in intertextual references, and framed as a "kinder, gentler k

Published by: Syracuse University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. ix-xiii

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Introduction: “You’re about to Be Gilmored”

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pp. xv-xxxvi

The two above exclamations, taken from episodes of the critically acclaimed television series Gilmore Girls (WB/CW, 2000–2007), are not the kinds of hyperliterate lines of dialogue typically associated with the program. They do not express, as do many other spoken passages in the series, the protagonists’ savvy ability to drop references to...

Part One: Authorship, Genre, Literacy, Televisuality

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pp. 1

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1. “Impossible Girl”: Amy Sherman-Palladino and Television Creativity

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pp. 3-18

During the second season of Roseanne (ABC, 1988–97)—a critically successful, long-running sitcom dealing with working-class issues and frequently labeled the “anti–Cosby Show”—a young writer named Joss Whedon wrote several episodes (including “Little Sister” and “Brain- Dead Poets Society”). The movie version of his then already conceived...

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2. Branding the Family Drama: Genre Formations and Critical Perspectives on Gilmore Girls

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pp. 19-35

Before its debut on October 5, 2000, Gilmore Girls had already made television history. According to an article published in American Demographics that year, Gilmore Girls was the “first advertiser advocated show” funded by the Family Friendly Programming Forum (FFPF), a group consisting of major U.S. corporations, who offered up a...

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3. Your Guide to the Girls: Gilmore-isms, Cultural Capital, and a Different Kind of Quality TV

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pp. 36-56

“Not the typical Gilmore Girls viewer.” This is both the way in which I preface conversations with friends and associates about the television show and the thought transparent on the faces of fellow media scholars upon learning of my interest in a program on the CW network about the misadventures of a mother and daughter in a small...

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4. TV “Dramedy” and the Double-Sided “Liturgy” of Gilmore Girls

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pp. 57-75

As a television series that combines levity and gravity, sparkle and depth, Gilmore Girls epitomizes the hybridized genre of “dramedy.” As a drama, the program tackles a variety of serious themes regarding family relationships (parenthood and motherhood in particular), friendship, love, generational schisms, cultural affinities, independence...

Part Two: Real and Imagined Communities (in Town and Online)

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pp. 77

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5. The Gift of Gilmore Girls’ Gab: Fan Podcasts and the Task of “Talking Back” to TV

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pp. 79-107

Over the past ten years, television critics have become increasingly vocal in their admiration and support of Amy Sherman-Palladino’s Gilmore Girls (2000–2007), a WB/CW series set in the fictional hamlet of Stars Hollow, Connecticut, and centered on the sisterlike relationship between thirtysomething mother Lorelai and her teenage...

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6. “I Will Try Harder to Merge the Worlds”: Expanding Narrative and Navigating Spaces in Gilmore Girls

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pp. 108-129

Longtime viewers of Gilmore Girls know that there is a fundamental conflict at the heart of this most unusual television series, a tension between the separation and integration of particular spaces. This tension plays out thematically through a division of the narrative universe (or “Gilmoreverse”) into two main settings, Stars Hollow and...

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7. “You’ve Always Been the Head Pilgrim Girl”: Stars Hollow as the Embodiment of the American Dream

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pp. 130-147

In the series finale of Gilmore Girls, town selectman Taylor Doose states—in a nausea-provoking analogy that goes into excruciating detail—that Stars Hollow has “birthed” Rory Gilmore and is now sending the young woman on her way into the world, just as we, the viewers, must let go of our girls. Disturbing though Taylor’s...

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8. Town Meetings of the Imagination: Gilmore Girls and Northern Exposure

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pp. 148-161

A mythology of the idyllic American small town has long permeated American literature, film, and television. Thornton Wilder set his iconic 1938 play Our Town in Grovers Corners, New Hampshire; the speech patterns and accents localize the imaginary town in northern New England (Bryan 2004, 36n37). Indeed, New...

Part Three: Race, Class, Education, Profession

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pp. 163

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9. Escaping from Korea: Cultural Authenticity and Asian American Identities in Gilmore Girls

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pp. 165-185

This chapter opens with quotes that are derived from two cultural productions that could not be more different from one another. It may seem antithetical to compare two things that are about as similar as “hammers and veils,” “raincoats and recipes,” or “ballrooms and biscotti” (paired objects that provide the titles of three...

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10. “The Thing That Reads a Lot”: Bibliophilia, College Life, and Literary Culture in Gilmore Girls

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pp. 186-201

Because of the alternative family model that Lorelai Gilmore and her daughter, Rory, embody, as well as the show’s frequent intertextual references to underground culture and the ironic tone permeating its 153 episodes, Gilmore Girls marks a significant, if not radical, departure from the prototypical American family...

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11. Stars Hollow, Chilton, and the Politics of Education in Gilmore Girls

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pp. 202-213

In Lorelai Gilmore and the fictional town of Stars Hollow, Amy Sherman-Palladino created a character and place that represent a kind of middle-class American ideal. Lorelai is a smart, successful, fiercely independent woman who has made a comfortable life for herself and her daughter, and she has done it on her own. Lorelai’s neighbors are, for...

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12. “You Don’t Got It”: Becoming a Journalist in Gilmore Girls

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pp. 214-232

From the beginning, Rory’s quest to become a journalist is a major ongoing storyline on Gilmore Girls. Since her first day at Chilton, we knew of her idolization of international reporter Christiane Amanpour. Rory’s obvious dedication to her future career makes the viewer understand her mother’s efforts to ask her parents for help in paying...

Part Four: Food, Addiction, Gender, Sexuality

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pp. 233

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13. Pass the Pop-Tarts: The Gilmore Girls’ Perpetual Hunger

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pp. 235-256

Some reference to food occurs in nearly every episode of Gilmore Girls, and most of the show’s main characters have a direct connection to food or cooking. Beyond their ritual coffee drinking, Lorelai and Rory are infamous for their junk food habits, having a particular penchant for cheeseburgers, Chinese food, and mystery bags from Al’s House of...

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14. “Nigella’s Deep-Frying a Snickers Bar!”: Addiction as a Social Construct in Gilmore Girls

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pp. 257-282

From his seat at the counter of Luke’s Diner in the episode “I’m a Kayak, Hear Me Roar” (7.15), Kirk calls to Luke to “check it out”; he has been published. As Kirk waxes poetic about being catapulted into the distinguished company of “published authors,” Luke quickly learns that Kirk’s masterpiece is really an advertisement to sell his...

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15. Java Junkies Versus Balcony Buddies: Gilmore Girls, “Shipping,” and Contemporary Sexuality

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pp. 283-301

When Lorelai Gilmore broke her engagement to fiancé Luke Danes and ended up sleeping with and later marrying old flame (and father of her daughter) Christopher Hayden toward the end of Gilmore Girls’ seven-season broadcast history, fan reaction was explosive and immediate. In online communities such as...

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16. “But Luke and Lorelai Belong Together!”: Relationships, Social Control, and Gilmore Girls

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pp. 302-320

It is not uncommon to hear individuals discussing someone else’s romantic relationship—offering advice, praise, and sometimes even critiques. These social interjections, regardless of whether they are supportive or critical, tend to continue throughout the duration of most relationships. Friends, family members, and even complete strangers...

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17. What a Girl Wants: Men and Masculinity in Gilmore Girls

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pp. 321-343

We live in a time when masculinity and femininity can no longer be easily defined. This point is evident in the earliest episodes of Gilmore Girls, as we meet characters like Michel Gerard, a metrosexual (perhaps queer) male who is obsessed with Celine Dion, his chow dogs, and his fastidiously maintained appearance; Kirk Gleason, the quirky...

Appendix: Complete Episode List

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pp. 347-352

Works Cited

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pp. 353-364


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pp. 365-380

E-ISBN-13: 9780815650690
E-ISBN-10: 0815650698
Print-ISBN-13: 9780815632399
Print-ISBN-10: 0815632398

Page Count: 372
Publication Year: 2010