The Gilmore Guys Take Toronto
Where they podcast, you will follow
Two years ago, I started listening to a podcast where two grown men watched one episode of Gilmore Girls a week, and talked about it for several hours. Titled Gilmore Guys (obviously), hosts Kevin T. Porter and Demi Adejuyigbe brought new life to the former WB show created by the brilliant showrunner Amy Sherman-Palladino with their hilarious observations of early 2000’s fashion, the quirks and big personalities of Stars Hollow and why we need to draw a line in the sand on “Team Dean” or “Team Jess.” (How about team self-respect, Rory?)
Eventually the DIY podcast, made by two former Texans living in LA, got so popular that they were written up in the New York Times and were invited to tour across America. Actual celebs (like my number-one crush Jason Mantzoukas) poured their heart out in their live onstage shows and they quickly interviewed everyone from actor Scott Patterson (“Luke”) to the show’s composer, writing staff and costume designers.
Now, they’re coming to Toronto. On Sunday, September 11, the Gilmore Guys make their first trip ever to Canada to perform a live edition of their podcast at Danforth Music Hall. (They will discuss the season seven episode "Gilmore Girls Only" and tickets are still available, right here.) You can expect pithy insights, a rap introduction with backing from Carole King’s “Where You Lead,” and regular features of the show such as the “Fashion Report” and their “Pop Goes The Culture” supercut. Because I am totally obsessed with them, I decided to interview the hosts about their “Gillys” fandom, unlikeable female protagonists and why the November Gilmore remount might just be the first-ever necessary Netflix revival.
You started this show in October 2014, when episodes of Gilmore Girls were first available for streaming on Netflix. Now, you’re finally on the last season and a completely new edition of Gilmore Girls will be coming out in November. Did you bring back the show?
Kevin Porter: I mean, big picture answer: no. As much as I believe in fan campaigns, like when people sent lightbulbs to NBC to keep Friday Night Lights on, our podcast was maybe one of several markers. Netflix picked up the streaming rights for it in back in 2014. And then there was the ATX reunion, which probably as influential as anything else.
Over the last couple of years, we've become an unlikely centre for people who are into the show to come to. And so because of that, it can seem we have more power than we actually do. If I was going to say, "how much influence did Gilmore Guys have in bringing the show back?", I'd say maybe two per cent. Which is pretty good! I just don't know any executives who would sign off on a multi-million dollar production because two bozos had a podcast about it.
Demi Adejuyigbe: I think two per cent is even too much. A lot of people want to give us credit, but I think it's just good timing. Maybe we helped Warner Brothers and Netflix see that there was some sort of fanbase already in place. But I think if we didn't do this show, the reboot would still be happening.
In what ways do you think Gilmore Girls was ahead of its time, especially for a show on the WB?
Kevin: It was very auteur-driven. It’s funny, but you don't think of Felicity as being the "JJ Abrams show." There are no lens flares coming into Felicity's dorm room. I think most of the success and the beauty of Gilmore Girls is not so much in story, but in execution. Because if you write it down on paper, the story is pretty played-out. It's a love triangle and a quirky small town and tons of “will they/won't they?” But the execution of those ideas... How it was both super fast and quick like a Howard Hawks movie, but slow and measurably-paced like a Jane Austen novel. When you combine those two things in a sweet little Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, it makes it very evergreen.
Gilmore Girls is particularly notable for its signature dialogue. Can you explain what made Amy Sherman-Palladino’s writing so unique?
Kevin: The aesthetic things that you could take from it are 1), everyone's talking super fast and 2), it's just littered and lousy with pop culture references, both old and new. 98 Degrees is as likely to be referenced as the Algonquin Table. Those two things together are very appealing.
I feel like there are a great number of valid criticisms of the show. And I should know because I've made thousands of them in the last two years. But I can never get on board when someone says, “nobody talks like that in real life”. Nobody talks in jokes like Parks and Recreation. Nobody talks in dramatic soliloquies à la Breaking Bad. No one talks in prose and poetry à la Mad Men. No one anytime, ever, talks like someone in a TV show, or in a movie. That’s not the point.
You guys also mention that the show was revolutionary for their unlikeable female protagonists, long before that was even a thing!
Kevin: It's not as brazen as some of lady complicated characters on cable, like Constance Zimmer on UnREAL, or Robin Wright on House of Cards, where it's just like "okay, let's have that dude murdered." But Gilmore Girls was a very lovely space for women to work out their own complexities, especially Lorelai and Rory. Both characters went down a dark path and were never really redeemed. The show never said, “okay they're going to make these bad choices, but there will be some comeuppance or punishment." That doesn't really exist, which I found to be fascinating. It wasn't even until season two or so, that we got any scenes in which one of the Gilmore Girls wasn't in it. The show very much built through their perspective.
Demi, you’re watching the show for the very first time, episode-by-episode and recording three-hour podcasts about each one. What’s that process been like?
Demi: Now that we’re into the seventh season, I've been enjoying it a lot more than people said I would, so a part of me is like - do I know what bad television is anymore? As for the whole show, I didn’t know if I would like it but I'm glad I did because it made doing the podcast very easy. The way we watch the show is very analytical and I feel like I can tear myself down about things I dislike, and boost myself up about things that I think are funny. Doing a show this way, and not being able to watch it at my own pace and having to watch one a week, has been very weird. But it’s also interesting because it’s like a crash-course in Gilmore Girls.
How do you think the new Netflix series is going to translate in 2016?
Kevin: I have a feeling that Gilmore Girls will not become any more "woke" in 2016. I think that the Palladinos are pretty liberal, if you look at their track record and Bush bashing jokes in the original run. But to see, "oh and then Michel has a Black Lives Matter subplot,” would be so bizarre. I haven't watched the new trailer, and Demi hasn't either, but people were saying how strange it was to hear Rory and Lorelai talk about John Oliver and Amy Schumer and googling stuff on their apps. So there will probably be an adjustment period for everyone.
Demi: I feel like growing up, there were so many shows that I watched that didn't have a lot of representation. And it wasn't because they were actively trying to avoid it - they just didn't really think of it. The blank slate of a character is generally a straight, white man on television. With Gilmore Girls, it’s a funnier thing because people talk it up as a very feminist TV show. But it’s weird to think of it as that progressive when there are so many tiny things where it just makes missteps.
There’s an addictive quality to Gilmore Girls. And it’s amazing how the guests on your show, from Girls’ writer Sarah Heyward to The League’s Jason Mantzoukas, all have such deep, emotional connections to the material. Why do you think that is?
Demi: A lot of people describe the show to us as a warm blanket. It’s something you can watch when you're feeling sad and it will lift you up and make you think about something else. It’s a type of dynamic that's not really represented on TV, a mother-daughter relationship that's really that close. Seeing that in television and portrayed so warmly, but with all of the problems that it has, is something that everyone loves to see.
I’m invested, but I don't know if I relate to it as strongly as I'm sure some women do. Maybe this is the privilege of being a guy, but I don't really see it as a "women’s show." It's just a show that happens to star women and is telling a story of two women. I do love Paris Geller, though. I just have affection for characters who are not willing to take the shit that everyone else wants to give them.
Kevin: You're really watching it for the reason you would watch any half hour comedy - which is just to hang out with the characters. Gilmore Girls’ episodes are infinitely bingeable upon rewatch. Because it is pure comfort. As far as how it changes how we consume culture... I'm kind of with the Sherman-Palladino's, I don't love the Netflix release schedule, all in one day, plop them all out on midnight. Because you know fools are gonna fast forward to the final four words! And it's gonna be a real bummer because that's not how it was ever intended. If you’re invested in a novel, you don’t skip to the last page of the book.
What are your feelings on the Netflix revival in general? Because from Fuller House to the new Twin Peaks, it does seem to be a trend...
Kevin: Historically TV revivals have never really lived up to their former glory. Arrested Development, not so much. X-Files this past year really disappointed everybody. Most of the time, there's not really a good reason to do a revival of a TV show, other than money. Gilmore's different because the fans always felt like the ending was stolen from them. Amy’s infamous "four final words" never got to be said on the show. So because of that, there's this whole meta-narrative to the revival that's never happened before on TV. It's almost the first-ever necessary TV revival.
What do you hope to see resolved in the final-ever season?
Kevin: For some fans, the most important thing would be "which of Rory's boyfriends will she end up with?” Or, "Luke and Lorelai - will they get married?" But for me, it would be the nature of Emily and Lorelai's relationship. It doesn't even need to have a tiny little bow on top, but really, if there's any genuine interaction between these characters and actresses, if there's two great scenes with the three “Gilmore Girls,” then the revival - for my money - will have been worth it.
What about you and Demi? What’s gonna happen after you’ve finally run out of Amy Sherman-Palladino material to podcast about?
Kevin: I know individually we'll just keep writing and doing our own stuff. But it is so funny how the TV recap podcast idea - it's hard to remember now, but it was still kind of a novelty two years ago.
Right now, we're really just focused on the tour and making that as good as we possibly can. And then we'll have to figure it out come December? January? March? Whenever we're done Bunheads and all that stuff. Which will act as a very gentle epilogue to Gilmore Guys. I think it will be nice to talk about this show where there's a lesser investment on a crazy fanbase's part. We won’t get as many hateful emails saying, "Why did you say this about Jess!" Like we do everyday, so that will be nice!