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The Half-Conversation AKA Why Gilmore Girls Is My Favourite TV Show

Sean loves the Gilmore Girls and it’s all because of the half-heard conversations. Lorelai: “So, I’ve decided I’m saving myself for William Holden” Rory: “Wow, It’s nice out here in left-field” Lorelai: “Hey, I’m sorry. Sunset Boulevard was on last […]

Sean loves the Gilmore Girls and it’s all because of the half-heard conversations.

Lorelai: “So, I’ve decided I’m saving myself for William Holden”
Rory: “Wow, It’s nice out here in left-field”
Lorelai: “Hey, I’m sorry. Sunset Boulevard was on last night and I don’t know. I’ve know him for years. Sabrina. Stalag 17. And last night, something snapped”
Rory: “I’ll say”
Lorelai: “I think it was the monkey scene”
Rory: “You know he’s dead dont’ya?”
Lorelai: “The Monkey?”
Rory: “William Holden!”
Lorelai: “Every great relationship has its obstacles. You’d know this if you weren’t dating Andy Hardy”

I’m a 31 year old white male sci-fi buff and “gaming enthusiast”. I know more about Marvel Comics than I do about Tolstoy. When Warner Brothers were looking at the demographic that Gilmore Girls might attract, I was probably a long way outside of that bracket. After I met my wife 6 and a bit years ago, she sat me down to watch a show she liked. She described it as “a bit like Friends but… like a soap opera… but a good one with very quick talk” and, after some mild resistance, I caved. We watched it from Season 1 to Season 7. An few episodes a night, from Episode 1 to Episode 157. I loved it. So, we watched it again. And again. We’ve now sat together and watched it 6 times from beginning to end and we’re half way through the 7th. We don’t plan it. It just happens. We sit down after putting the kids to bed, struggle to find something to watch and, just like that, we’re watching Gilmore Girls. Again. It’s now my favourite TV show ever, beating out Daredevil, Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones.

It’s easy to see why the show is critically acclaimed, why it won numerous prestigious awards and why it still has such a fandom. The quick wit, the sarcasm, the big time love stories in small town America, the incredibly likeable characters – there’s a lot to admire about the Gilmore Girls. But for me, all of these brilliant aspects are best demonstrated in a single scene-type that this show does better than any other – The Half-Conversation.

Emily: “This feels so decadent. Isn’t this decadent?”
Rory: “Very decadent”
Lorelai: “Are there more marshmallows?”
Emily: “All you two have been dipping is the marshmallows. You haven’t touched the kiwi or the pineapple or the satsuma slices”
Rory: “But it’s fruit”
Emily: “Fruit is good for you”
Rory: “We’re fudou purists grandma”
Lorelai: “Yeah, we dip old school”
Emily: “The government say you should have 9 servings of fruit and vegetables per day”
Lorelai: “Imperialist propaganda”
Rory: “I think Noam Chomsky would agree”
Lorelai: “I bet Noam doesn’t dip fruit”

“Please Luke. Please, Please, Please” are the first words uttered by Lorelai in the Gilmore Girls. It’s a conversation we see her have at least a hundred times over in the course of the 7 seasons of the Gilmore Girls – the perpetual search and/or beg for life giving coffee. But here, it’s a Half-Conversation. It’s a back and forth that’s flavoured by a previous conversation, one that we never see, one where Luke likely said something along the lines of “You drink too much coffee” and Lorelai snapped back with her usual wit and sarcasm. It’s half a conversation, but half is all you need. Your imagination does the rest.

Almost every episode of the Gilmore Girls starts with half a conversation. We come in as Rory, Lorelai and co. are in the midst of one of their rollercoaster interactions that throw in pop culture references, dangerous levels of sarcasm and little snippets of information that flesh out these characters into loveable people. We find out what movies they love, what food they eat (pop tarts and pizza obvs.), what music they listen to, what books they read and so much more through the 45 second half-conversations. They’re a concentrated version of the conversations Quentin Tarantino uses to build his movie characters. They’re the “I don’t tip” scene from Reservoir Dogs but in fast forward.

(While Watching the Brady Bunch Variety Hour)
Rory: “This is sublime”
Lorelai: “It was the golden age of television”
Rory: “The music, the costumes, the sets”
Lorelai: “All cylinders were firing on this one boy”
Rory: “Who knew they all had such musical talent”
Lorelai: “And such far out booty shaking abilities too”
Rory: “Did you see that TV Guide had this as one of their list of the 50 worst shows of all time?”
Lorelai: “I know. Who are they to judge?”
Rory: “It should have been in the top 50 best”
Lorelai: “Yeah, right after Holmes and Yoyo and Hee Haw Honeys. Rory, get back here. They’re in clown suits and heading for the pool”

A lot of TV shows use the half-conversation to build up characters. Friends did it. Frazier did it. Even Star Trek: The Next Generation did it. It’s an easy way to slip into an episode and get the viewers attention right away. With the Gilmore Girls, it’s a little different.

With the Gilmore Girls, because it’s so “out there”, so “I might have to google that later to figure out what the hell she’s talking about” and so fast paced, you’re always playing catch up. You’re still mulling over one left field reference (William Holden) before you’re hit with another (Andy Hardy) and it’s deliriously positive writing. It inspires us to imagine the other half of the conversation we missed off screen. Many of the men that Rory and Lorelai meet are a mirror of how the viewers feel – they can’t keep up with them and are as confused by their idiosyncrasies (often called ‘Gilmorisms’) as we are – and it makes for intensely enjoyable viewing. Both Lauren Graham & Alexis Bledel deliver the lines that Amy Sherman-Palladino and Dan Palladino painstakingly pull together like they’re part of any natural half-conversation and for me, it’s the way that these half-conversations give the characters a “real” feeling to them that makes Gilmore Girls my favourite TV Show of all time.

Sean Davies

Ungrateful little yuppie larvae. 30-something father to 5. Once ate 32 slices of pizza at an all-you-can-eat buffet.

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