The Essential Gilmore: A Binge Watchers Guide
The Girls are back! That's right, in less than one week, Lorelai, Rory, and the whole Stars Hollow gang are returning to the screen with Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. Need a refresher before then? What better way to spend your Thanksgiving break than with the Stream Queens Binge Watchers Guide, your one-stop shop for the most important episodes in the Gilmore canon. Remember, kids: It's a lifestyle. It's a religion. And we're in. We are all in. (OK, we'll stop now).
Lorelai's First Day at Chilton (Season 1, Episode 2)
Though not as exposition-y as the pilot, "Lorelai's First Day at Chilton" establishes more important Gilmore dynamics (Emily and Lorelai bickering, Lorelai's horrible sartorial choices, Rory out of place at Chilton) and important characters. Here we meet Paris Geller, future Hillary Clinton and Rory's Season 1 nemesis; Jackson, huge weirdo and future Sookie-hubby; and Kirk, introduced here inexplicably as "Mick."
Rory's Dance (Season 1, Episode 9)
"Rory's Dance" brings us some truly awful early-aughts fashions (butterfly clips!) courtesy of the Chilton Winter Formal, as well as the cementing of dull-ass Dean as Rory's first and official boyfriend. More importantly, it marks Rory and Lorelai's first real fight, after Rory and Dean accidentally fall asleep and stay out all night. We learn their cozy, BFF relationship is not immune to fractures, especially under Emily's influence.
Christopher Returns (Season 1, Episode 15)
Obviously we had to include the introduction to Rory's hot, deadbeat dad as he visits Stars Hollow for the first time. We see Christopher and Lorelai's charming and flirty banter, and also a little more history on why Lorelai is a single parent. In some serious foreshadowing, Lorelai blows off a painting date with Luke, distracted by her baby daddy drama.
Love, Daises and Troubadours (Season 1, Episode 21)
Love is in the air in Stars Hollow as Rory is finally ready to say those three little words Dean very rationally demanded of her, and Luke and Lorelai deny their attraction to their respective significant others. Adios, Rachel, we hardly knew thee. Meanwhile, Max makes a bizarre proposal to Lorelai, accompanied by a massive amount of yellow daisies.
Nick & Nora/Sid & Nancy (Season 2, Episode 5)
Season 2 starts with Lorelai and Max's aborted wedding, a trip to Harvard, some Rory-Dean snoozefest fights, blahblahblah. "Nick & Nora/Sid & Nancy" is absolutely historic for the introduction of Luke's nephew, New York City bad-boy Jess Mariano, and his immediate chemistry with Rory. Also for coining "jam hands" into the Gilmore lexicon.
A-Tisket, A-Tasket (Season 2, Episode 13)
Another whimsical Stars Hollow tradition: a charity picnic basket lunch auction? Sure. Jess is obviously stirring up trouble by outbidding poor stock-boy Dean for lunch with Rory, and Lorelai, trying to avoid Miss Patty's meddling, ends up with Luke . Meanwhile, Mrs. Kim ruins Lane's romance with Henry. Lorelai realizes her distrust of Jess is reminiscent of Emily's parenting style and apologizes to Rory, who seems to be connecting with him more and more.
Teach Me Tonight (Season 2, Episode 19)
Luke wants Rory to tutor Jess, who's having trouble at Stars Hollow High despite his obvious intelligence. Their study session turns into The Clash lyrics quizzes and ice cream breaks, and Jess crashes Rory's car into a park bench. The accident leads to a broken arm for Rory, some self-righteous "I told you so's" from Lorelai, and Jess packing his bags. Also, Christopher is back and feigning concern, and of course, who could forget, A Film by Kirk.
I Can't Get Started (Season 2, Episode 22)
It's Sookie's wedding day, but all the attention is on the Gilmores. Lorelai is rekindling her romance with Christopher, who finally seems ready to take on the responsibility of a family. That is, until he finds out he repeated a mistake from adolescence (seriously, does the man have super sperm?) and must leave Lorelai once again. Jess returns to ask Luke for another chance, and Rory impulsively kisses him before heading off to nerd camp in DC with Paris for the summer.
They Shoot Gilmores, Don't They? (Season 3, Episode 7)
Season 3 starts off with Christopher-Sherry baby drama, Rory and Paris student council feuds (yawn), and lots of jealousy - Rory about Jess's new blonde make-out buddy and Jess about Rory staying with her floppy haired bozo of a boyfriend. It all comes to a head at charming Stars Hollow town event #573, the 24-Hour Dance Marathon. Lorelai and Rory are trying to outlast Kirk, who claims the trophy every year. At some point in hour 23, Dean finally grows a backbone and tells Rory to just go date Jess already because he is o-v-e-r it. And so begins Rory & Jess: The Teen Years.
Face-Off (Season 3, Episode 15)
Rory is slowly getting hip to the fact that bad-boys make bad boyfriends. After Jess blows her off for the second night in a row, she heads off to the Stars Hollow hockey game with Lane and her fake Korean boyfriend, Young Chui. There she sees Dean has moved on to nicer, blonder pastures: the dreaded Lindsay. Meanwhile, Lorelai delights in Emily's torture at the hands of her mother-in-law, Trix, until a man in a tracksuit intervenes.
Keg! Max! (Season 3, Episode 19)
Finally, at the twilight of her high school career, Rory gets cool enough to attend a party, where Lane's band is playing their first gig. When Jess finds out he skipped too much school to graduate or attend prom, he takes his brooding out on Rory, and ends up in a fistfight with Dean at the party. A drunken Lane calls her mother and reveals her relationship with Dave, and Lorelai is unsettled by Luke and Nicole's cozy stay at the Independence Inn.
Those Are Strings, Pinocchio (Season 3, Episode 22)
It's graduation day at Chilton, with Rory delivering the valedictory address (natch). Spoiler alert: it's a tearjerker. Speaking of jerks, Jess keeps calling Rory from the land of failed pilots and she finally has the courage to give him the brush-off for good. Lorelai and Sookie are set to buy the old Dragonfly Inn, and Rory strikes a deal for continued financial support from the elder Gilmores in exchange for continuing Friday night dinners.
Lorelai's First Day at Yale (Season 4, Episode 2)
An echo of our first day at Chilton, Lorelai moves Rory into her dorm at Yale, where they're surprised by an old friend - Paris, accompanied by Terrance the life coach. When hopeless nerd Rory is homesick after a few hours, Lorelai organizes a girls' night with Rory's dormmates, complete with copious amounts of delivery food and pleas for a hairbrush singalong. The Gilmore girls spend Rory's first night at Yale together, howling at the moon. Also, Luke is married?
The Incredible Sinking Lorelais (Season 4, Episode 14)
Life is taking its toll on the Gilmore girls. Rory gets a "C" and her professor suggests she drop a class, while Lorelai is running out of time and money attempting to get the Dragonfly Inn up and running. Both end up in the arms of married men: Rory cries on Dean's shoulder, and Luke consoles Lorelai and offers to lend her money to finish building the inn.
Luke Can See Her Face (Season 4, Episode 20)
Liz Danes, sister of Luke, mother of Jess, returns to Stars Hollow for her wedding to TJ in the town square. Lorelai continues her crazed preparations for the opening of the Dragonfly, and Rory consoles Paris when old man Asher has a heart attack. Luke invests in a self-help book on tape (really) that leads to a revelation.
Last Week Fights, This Week Tights (Season 4, Episode 21)
The "Tights" in question are worn with aplomb by TJ at he and Liz's Renaissance-themed wedding, which included this charming little ditty. Luke and Lorelai share a romantic waltz at the ceremony - could these two crazy kids finally be getting together? Meanwhile, wet-blanket Rory is pouting on her date with frat-boy Duncan Kane and calls Dean to come to her rescue. But when he walks her back to her dorm, Jess shows up with a declaration of love, begging Rory to run away with him.
Raincoats and Recipes (Season 4, Episode 22)
It's time for a test run at the Dragonfly, and everything's coming out of the woodwork: Emily and Richard's separation, Luke and Loralei's budding romance, the return of Digger Styles, and Dean and Rory part deaux. We finally see the kiss we've waited 4 years for, along with Rory surrendering her V-card to a married construction worker with bad bangs.
We Got Us a Pippi Virgin (Season 5, Episode 5)
Lorelai is still trying to adjust to the re-emergence of Dean in Rory's life, and suggests a double date with her and Luke to ease the tension. But Dean wears slacks, Luke's never seen Pippi Longstocking, and the evening ends in a heated exchange over a Bop It, along with the revelation that Luke doesn't think Dean is good enough for Rory.
You Jump, I Jump, Jack (Season 5, Episode 7)
Rory follows Logan and the Life & Death Brigade into the woods for a Yale Daily News article, finally learning to take a risk in the process. Richard and Emily insist on separate outings to "get to know" Luke, both insulting him in the process. Lane and Zach go on their first date.
Wedding Bell Blues (Season 5, Episode 13)
Back together, Emily and Richard renew their vows in an elaborate ceremony with Lorelai as the maid of honor and Rory serving as best man. In true Gilmore family fashion, it all goes to hell when Christopher shows up to make a drunken scene, inspired by a warning from Emily. Rory tries to close the deal with Logan, before an untimely interruption from Mom, Dad, and Luke. Scene of the infamous "You and I? We're done."
Pulp Friction (Season 5, Episode 17)
After the disaster at the wedding, Luke and Lorelai are finally back together. Emily, confused by Lorelai's absence at Friday Night Dinner, storms into Luke's to berate him for not following her instructions to get back with Lorelai. Rory becomes "dating girl" as she attempts to make lothario Logan jealous by attending a Quentin Tarrantino-themed party with his friend.
A House Is Not a Home (Season 5, Episode 22)
Lorelai gets a call to pick up Rory at the police station after her adventure "borrowing" a boat with Logan. Still devastated by Logan's father's dismissal of her journalistic ambitions, Rory decides to take some time off from Yale. Lorelai enlists her parents' help to convince Rory to stay in school, but ultimately they support Rory's decision and help her move into their pool house. The season ends with a surprise proposal at Luke's Diner.
Let Me Hear Your Balalaikas Ringing Out (Season 6, Episode 8)
Do yourself a favor and skip the Lorelai-Rory estrangement episodes. Rory works for the DAR, Lorelai adopts a dog - the girls aren't nearly as interesting apart as they are together. Jess returns and holds a mirror up to Rory to show her what her life has become, and to thank her for inspiring him to make something of himself. Also, Logan is a smarmy dick.
Friday Night's Alright for Fighting (Season 6, Episode 13)
Lorelai deals with the fallout of Luke's revelation: he has a daughter, April, also known as the worst plot device in Gilmore history. Rory and Logan's reconciliation date turns into a romantic evening at the Yale Daily News after a mutiny against Paris's reign of terror as editor threatens the paper. After revealing that Christopher will now be paying her Yale tuition, the girls spend an epic, drunken Friday evening of bickering at the elder Gilmore estate.
Partings (Season 6, Episode 22)
For some local color, all manner of strange troubadours (cameos galore) have descended upon Stars Hollow to get discovered. Rory prepares for Logan's graduation from Yale and impending departure to merry old London. Elsewhere, Lorelai confronts Luke and issues an ultimatum. That spirals into a massive mistake with Christopher, and the possible end for Lorelai-Luke as the OTP, for real this time.
Without ASP or co-creator Daniel Palladino at the helm, this season was tough to watch. Lorelai inexplicably revenge-married Christopher, nice-guy Marty became an obtuse jackass, APRIL became a main character - v tough to watch for GG devotees. We say, catch the series finale and call it a day.
Bon Voyage (Season 7, Episode 22)
Failing to get the New York Times fellowship, Rory scrambles to find a Plan B for her career. After meeting with an old contact, she agrees to report on Barack Obama's presidential campaign (ahem, it was 2007) for his new online outfit. Before she leaves town for the campaign trail, Stars Hollow throws their First Daughter a heartwarming farewell celebration, where Luke and Lorelai and kiss and open the door for reconciliation.
All 7 seasons of Gilmore Girls are available on Netflix. Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life will premiere Thursday, November 24 at midnight.