Today we're joined by author A.J. Pine, whose book What If is just out, and is the second in her If Only series. What If's heroine has issues with her memory, while the hero can't help but remember what his parents want him to do, even as he tries to forget what he wants. A.J. is here talking about one of her pop culture references, the Gilmore Girls, and is listing just what made the show so fabulous. Thanks, A.J.!
**Spoiler Alert: This post may contain spoilers, squee-ing, fangirling, and swooning in response to all aired episodes of The Gilmore Girls.**
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a pop culture addict. It’s a part of who I am, and because of this, it’s a part of who my characters are too. Pop culture references I’ve made in books so far? Friends, Dead Poets Society, '90s Brit Pop songs, The Vampire Diaries, and in my NA romance What If,, I paralleled the love story with one from one of my favorite shows ever, Gilmore Girls. It’s always a risk infusing pop culture into a book because you want the relevance to be untouched by time. So in case you were worried that Gilmore Girls wouldn’t hold up against the years (I know…pshaw, right?), I’m here to ease your mind.
We read the books because we love the books! Of course this has to be the first reason. Rory Gilmore will always be the best example of a true bookworm. She even brings a book to her first dance with Dean. Be still my book-loving heart! Throughout the series, Rory is seen reading 339 books! HERE you can see how many of Rory’s books you’ve read. Or even better—take the Rory Gilmore reading challenge! And then there’s Jess (more on him later), who stole Rory’s book TO MAKE NOTES IN THE MARGIN.
It’s not just Lorelai and Rory, but so many women at the forefront a show that celebrates them. Emily, Sookie, Lane, Mrs. Kim, Miss Patty, Babette, Paris, Liz, Alex Borstein when she played Drella the surly harpist (I’m rewatching the series now, and it’s still brilliant mcbrilliantson). These are just the characters coming to mind on first thought, and we can’t forget the woman who started it all—writer Amy Sherman-Palladino.
Come on. I’m only human. And while I love that the show celebrates women, I also love the men who celebrate them. We’ll start with the men according to Lorelai. Luke gets top billing here, of course. You knew he loved Lorelai from the pilot, when he argued with her about how much coffee she’d already had before she came to the diner to get coffee from him. And as I nostalgically rewatch the series, I will admit that I am falling for Max Medina as Lorelai falls for him. And I adore Christopher too. But Luke—Luke is her person. He’s her lobster.
7. BOYS part deux.
Dean, Jess, Logan, oh my. I’ll argue my point for Jess in a minute (because yes…#teamjess), but let’s start with a super young Jared Padalecki as Dean. He was the perfect, sweet, good guy for Rory’s first boyfriend. And take it from someone who writes a lot of beta heroes, I love the good guy. But you bring in the brooding new guy, the always sexy Milo Ventimiglia, and make him as much of a bookworm as Rory as well as someone who can go toe-to-toe with her and Luke with the quippy banter, and I’m toast. TOAST. Even though Logan was fun and turned out to be a really great guy, and Matt Czuchry is plenty easy on the eyes, Jess is the only one I thought really had chemistry with Rory. It’s okay if you don’t agree, but Jess wins for me.
6. SMALL TOWN LOVE. Maybe it’s a little much to go where everyone knows your name (see what I did there? Another pop culture reference), but even with the loss of privacy in a town like Stars Hollow, you know that everyone in this place has got every other Stars Hollow resident’s back. Those of us who’ve never known small-town life romanticize it to be something like Stars Hollow…with an angry French dude like Michele running the inn we’ll stay at when we visit.
5. EMILY and RICHARD GILMORE.
The quintessential high society parents who seemingly drive their daughter away. These characters, played brilliantly by Kelly Bishop (Baby Houseman’s mom!) and Edward Herrmann (best role since Max the head vampire in Lost Boys), could have been caricatures, but because we got to see them through both Lorelai’s eyes and Rory’s, we see the complexity of the entire family, the regret of all they missed out on with Lorelai and how much love they still have to give her and Rory. Friday night dinners were always tense and funny, but they also showed us how when it comes to family, it’s never too late to heal.
4. A SECOND CHANCE AT FIRST LOVE. How many of us wish we could go back to our first love and see if we’d still feel the same as adults? Getting pregnant at sixteen was not the plan for Lorelai and Christopher. Becoming parents didn’t mean they didn’t love each other. But they were sixteen. In the pilot, Lorelai yells at her mom, “I stopped being a child the minute the stick turned pink, okay?” She grew up to become the mom she needed to be for Rory, but Christopher had a harder time with it. Every time Christopher blew back into town, I wanted it to work that time. But the truth is that shared life experiences don’t always change us in the same way, and Lorelai and Christopher aren’t the same people who fell in love at sixteen. Sharing a child doesn’t always mean sharing a life, and while this is a hard truth, it’s a truth nonetheless.
3. SECOND LOVE.
Falling in love for the first time is AWE-SOME. Not gonna lie. It’s like reading that first best book and wishing you could reread it for the first time again. You can’t. You can’t redo a first because that’s why they’re called firsts. They happen once. BUT, what if a second is as good as a first. OR, what if a second turns out to be better than a first. Falling in love at 16 and then falling in love in your thirties after life has done a number on you—they’re both great. But the second one, if we are lucky enough to get that second love, it might be even better. There’s no, “If I knew then what I know now…” Because you do know. And you know it now. And now is pretty freakin’ good.
2. MAKING THE BEST OUT OF AN UNEXPECTED SITUATION.
There are so many variables that can affect a teenager becoming a mother. We only get to see the after, and the after is the amazing Rory Gilmore, but I’d take my bets that Lorelai did all she could to raise Rory into the girl she is in the pilot. I’m a mom. I know there is nothing easy about it, but we like a happily ever after with life’s little unexpected detours, and Gilmore Girls lets us have it.
And the number one reason why Gilmore Girls will always be Fabulous? THE WRITING.
There is nothing like the dialogue on this show. So instead of talking about the writing, I’ll leave you with a few of my favorite bits of dialogue (fact checked on the lovely IMDB.com).
Lorelai: I miss Max.
Rory: I know.
Lorelai: I had a dream about him the other night.
Rory: Really? Dirty?
Lorelai: No. Absolutely not. And when you're 21, I'll tell you the real answer.
Luke: How about that one?
Lorelai: Too pale. Pale means sickly.
Luke: Or sunscreen.
Lorelai: Or mad cow disease.
Luke: Pale does not mean mad cow disease.
Lorelai: Have you ever had mad cow disease?
Luke: Twice last week and my coloring was great.
Jess: You didn't answer me.
Rory: About what?
Jess: Did you call me at all?
Jess: Did you send me a letter?
Jess: Smoke signal?
Jess: A nice fruit basket?
Lorelai: Heh, you know what I just realized? “Oy” is the funniest word in the entire world.
Lorelai: I mean think about it, you never hear the word “oy” and not smile. Impossible. Funny, funny word.
Emily: Oh dear God.
Lorelai: “Poodle” is another funny word.
Emily: Please drink your drink, Lorelai.
Lorelai: In fact, if you put “oy” and “poodle” together, in the same sentence, you'd have a great new catchphrase, you know? Like, “Oy with the poodles already.”
Lorelai: So from now on, when the perfect circumstances arise, we will use our favorite new catchphrase:
Rory: Oy with the poodles already.
Lorelai: I'm telling you, it's knocking “Whatchu talkin' 'bout, Willis?” right out of first place.
What are your favorite things about the Gilmore Girls?
Learn more about or order a copy of What If by AJ Pine, available now:
AJ Pine writes stories to break readers' hearts, but don't worry—she'll mend those hearts with a happily ever after...maybe. The first book she wrote was YA, but now she's two-timing her first love with NA. She's always in the middle of reading two to three books, adores online shopping (everything from groceries to shoes), and she still loves vampires, whether it's Eric Northman or the Salvatore brothers. When she's not writing, AJ is sneaking off to her day job as a high school English teacher or hanging with her husband and kids in the Chicago burbs.