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Girl Power, 01.11.01 ...


It's not easy for a show to have "buzz" when its Nielsen ratings are not only absent from the top 10, but not even in the top 100. It's also not easy when it's up against Friends. The only initial reason I watched the WB's Gilmore Girls is because someone in the office had the tape. I have it now, and I'm not giving it up.

There's a bandwagon forming, folks, and the Viewers for Quality Television recently bestowed four awards on the rookie series, including Best New Drama, Best Actress in a New Series and Most Interesting New Character. The actress is Lauren Graham, whose previous TV characters (or those around her) apparently weren't interesting enough to last more than two months (remember Good Company, Townies, Conrad Bloom or M.Y.O.B?). Nielsen God willing, this character of Lorelai Gilmore will.

The thoroughly lovely Ms. Graham shines as Lorelai, a 32-year-old single mom who's bright, bubbly and funny, sometimes to the point of aggravating her slightly more serious 16-year-old daughter, Rory. That's right, Lorelai got pregnant at 16, to the dismay of her well-to-do parents, from whom she's been estranged, not just since Rory's birth but really since her own.

It appears the colorful Lorelai never fit into their staid universe. Her father Richard (Edward Herrmann) is a corporate bigwig with a head for business, and a heart for, well, business. Kelly Bishop plays her mother Emily, a status-conscious blue blood who can't accept that her daughter turned out not according to plan. Emily's affection for Rory makes her not quite the woman you love to hate, though Lorelai gives it a good try. At this odd foursome's weekly dinner (Emily's condition for financing Rory in a private school) Emily thrusts with disapproval of Lorelai's life and Lorelai parries with a deft humor that often sails over the head of her elder.

Rory is the peacemaker. Charmingly played by newcomer Alexis Bledel, she shares her mother's wit and beauty, and is an equal in their relationship as they trade being pal and parent. "When I grow up, I want to be you," Lorelai once confided to Rory, a Harvard aspirant who indeed must occasionally reign in her more headstrong mother. This, of course, is the core of the show. Two bright young women making their ways in the world who just happen to be mother and daughter.

Their world is an idyllic, fictional Connecticut town where Lorelai manages an inn (think The Stratford Inn from Newhart, but bigger). Her best friend is the chef, Sookie (Melissa McCarthy), a delightful woman whose passionate palate often distracts her from all else. Countering Sookie's enthusiasm is the able-but-hardly-willing concierge Michel (Yanic Truesdale). You know how they say the French hate Americans? Michel hates everyone. Somehow, he is hilarious at it. Luke (Scott Patterson) is a ruggedly styled individual who owns the cafe where the Gilmore girls get at least a daily caffeine fix. These three, and other neighbors and friends, including Liz Torres and Sally Struthers in recurring roles, add even more to a quirky quality that recalls Northern Exposure.

This, in short, is a wonderfully written and acted series that deserves mightily to build a following. And it is. It is filled with people you want to know and get to care about. There's Friends, and then opposite it are the Gilmore Girls, who have rapidly become our friends.
Credit: TV Guide


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