Nerdy Girls of Stars Hollow
Written by guest blogger Marcela Vargas Reynoso (@ethne88)
The internet went crazy the moment it was announced that Gilmore Girls was coming to Netflix on October 1st. It was with good reason, since this witty show had millions of people laughing and crying along with the Gilmore family and friends for seven whole seasons (2000-2007). After an extra seven years of yearning, the time has come to reassess the awesomeness of the nerdy women of Stars Hollow.
One of the reasons this show became so successful among both men and women is the solid and full-fleshed characters that inhabit the Gilmoreverse. The show’s protagonists were female, career-oriented, independent, smart, feminine, and tough. Its men were strong-willed, intelligent, emotional, caring, and interesting. Neither gender was portrayed as less imperfect than the other, with both women and men falling victim to every possible issue in life: dating, break ups, money problems, pride, family feuds, sickness, you name it.
I started watching Gilmore Girls around 2003, through reruns of the first couple of seasons and finally catching up with season three. I was 15, barely a year away from high school, and set to attend an expensive private school on an academic scholarship. I was bookish, a bit of a loner, had spent my whole life studying with the same set of kids, and knew for sure that I wanted to write. Finding Rory Gilmore on TV gave me a hint on how to dive headfirst into this new stage in my life. She taught me it was OK to be the girl who reads away during lunch breaks, who focuses on her studies because she loves school, and who balances it all with a healthy social life back home. I, too, had my very own Lane Kim, spread out into three different persons with whom I grew up, and spent most of my underage years with – my Dream Team.
As years went by, I realized I had a lot in common with the rest of the gang. I had Paris’s resolve, Lane’s love of music, Lorelai’s drive, Sookie’s enthusiasm… I understood what makes a set of characters so endearing: relatability. Seeing oneself in them helps viewers understand themselves better, and Amy Sherman-Palladino (the creator of Gilmore Girls) excels at building complex, relatable characters for television. Especially women. Especially intelligent women. This is a shout out (and an honorary mention) to the four (five) nerdiest girls in Gilmore Girls, for teaching that quirky and awesome go well hand in hand.
This blue-eyed, coffee-loving, journalist-to-be had our hearts from day one. Rory Gilmore was a straight-A student who had read more books in her high school years than half her class in their entire lives. In fact, she loved reading so much she had a whole system of bookcases inside her bedroom [Ep. 12, Season 2], and chose the Compact Oxford English Dictionary as her preferred present from her father [Ep. 15, Season 1] [Ep. 6, Season 2]. Another of Rory’s geeky traits is her deep knowledge of both high and popular culture – except, perhaps, for Modern Art (Zoltan Kemeny, anyone?). Rory Gilmore might not be into sci fi or fantasy, but she’s got enough credentials to qualify as top nerd in Stars Hollow.
Rory’s best friend, Lane Kim –the band geek– was the music guru for the Gilmore Girls’ audience. She was passionate and knowledgeable about various genres – however, rock and roll was her poison of choice. Lane developed her own music genre classification [Ep. 14, Season 1] and eventually joined a band (Hep Alien), after teaching herself how to play drums at a local music shop [Ep. 20, Season 2]. Her favorite thing from her trip to Korea during the summer between seasons 1 and 2 is all the bootlegged music she scored: Elvis Costello at the Marquee in 1978! [Ep. 4, Season 2]. Her undying passion and commitment to her fandom also brought to her both her first boyfriend (the amazing Dave Rygalski, played by Adam Brody, who left this show for The O.C., in which he portrayed the poster boy of adorable geek teens, Seth Cohen) and her eventual husband (bandmate Zack). And, yeah, she proved herself to be more of a leader to Hep Alien than any other member ever was. If Rory was the nerdy bookworm, Lane was a full-fledged music geek.
Sookie St. James
Bubbly, enthusiastic, and clumsy (although this trait was toned down in later seasons), Sookie St. James was the spark of both the Independence and the Dragonfly Inns. Lorelai might have been their spine, but Sookie was their soul, with her obsessive perfectionism and her unparalleled knowledge of both cooking ingredients and kitchen appliances – to the point of carrying a photo of a stove in her wallet, along with her family pictures [Ep. 14, Season 4]. Sookie, in her own geekdom, got the odd chance of working full-time in the one thing she loved above all else: cooking. She was crafty, creative, and awfully protective of her kitchen. Any attempt at overruling this fierce woman inside her kitchen should have been answered with a wise “Let the Sookie win”. Luckily for both of them, she married Jackson, a man every bit of a geek as she was, only with a slightly different focus: farming produce. Sookie was strong, loyal, and smart – but above all, she wasn’t afraid of burning stoves and pipes in order to improve her skills.
This obnoxious private school girl started out as an annoyance and a rival to our dear Rory, but through her determination and wit, Paris soon became a fan favorite. She was an equal to Rory’s academic abilities and, also, to her earnest world-changing intentions. She could quote historical figures (from presidents to philosophers) on a moment’s notice, and though her book collection had less fiction in it than Rory’s, she was the only other female character in Gilmore Girls that could match her friend’s reading habits – males who did so: Richard Gilmore and Jess Mariano. Paris was a bookworm and a straight-A student, a true, nerdy, force of nature. Last but not least, we owe her this fantastic piece of advice: “I want to live my life so that I’ll be able to read an in-depth biography about myself in later years and not puke” [Ep. 18, Season 5].
What makes a nerd a nerd? Lorelai walks the thin line between “coolest girl in town” and “such a weirdo”, and we love her for it. Her two best friends (Rory and Sookie) are nerds in their own way, and while Lorelai is not in love with a specific fandom, her knowledge of pop culture is only paralleled by her daughter’s. She’s a film buff, smart, and got through college while both running an inn and raising a child. She lived through eighties’ music and had a tight grip on both her rock and punk references. Want to talk about collectibles and memorabilia? Lorelai owned Joe Strummer’s leather jacket [Ep. 18, Season 3]. Sounds nerdy to me.
Its unapologetic feminism is one of this show’s virtues, and Amy Sherman-Palladino’s character development is another. On its 7-year run, Gilmore Girls gave us a chance to witness the ups and downs of an adorable bunch of nerdy women, while showing us, through them, the scope of our own possibilities.
Marcela Vargas Reynoso is a Mexican journalist and full-time geek. She is web editor for Latin American magazine Gatopardo and is also co-founder and editor for geeky Mexican website La Hora Libre. Her biggest achievements so far are the print publication of a lengthy interview she did on set with filmmaker genius Guillermo del Toro, and appearing on Yellowcard’s “Ocean Avenue (acoustic)” official video.