There are only three shows that I know where the act of conversation is elevated to the status of high art: BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, THE WEST WING (early seasons only), and THE GILMORE GIRLS. Though these three shows may not have a great deal in common in other ways, all three revel in great talk. Other shows have good talk, but these three have great, great talk. Take just a sample, delivered at a machine gun pace:
GRANDMA: You were on the phone.
GRANDPA: Long distance.
LORELAI: God lives in London?
GRANDPA: My mother lives in London.
LORELAI: Your mother is God?
LORELAI: So, God IS a woman...
LORELAI: And a relative, that's so cool. I'm gonna totally ask for favors.
Series creator Amy Sherman-Palladino, the self-proclaimed model for Lorelai Gilmore and the writer of an unreasonably large number of the brilliant screenplays, has an absolute genius for talk. Few movies and no television series (apart from the above mentioned BUFFY and WEST WING-early-seasons-only) contain better talk. I watch the episodes of this series with a persistent grin and an unceasing delight in the manner in which the show elevates mere talk to something greater than mere talk. It is in many other ways a very good show, but what makes it exceptional is its gift for gab.
But it takes more than a great script filled with great talk. It takes actors who can pull it off. But luckily, THE GILMORE GIRLS is filled with a bevy of competent actors who are completely capable of handling every nuance of the script. All are at least solid, but in Lauren Graham the show has someone who is exceptional. The show would be very good even with a lesser actress, but she is absolutely perfect as Lorelai Gilmore.
There is never a point at which this show is ever less than completely entertaining, and it often puts me in mind of "A Prarie Home Companion," with the way that you get to know each character in the town of Stars Hollow. Although Lauren Graham dominates the show, the series in fact features an ensemble supporting cast, with each person bringing a perfect additional touch to the show.
And for all literate folks the show is an especial delight. How many shows routinely drop names like Stella (from STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE), Proust, Oscar Levant, Marlon Perkins (the Wild Kingdom guy), Tolstoy, John Muir, Thoreau, and so forth, as well as extended discussions of ennui. And the musical references are consistently cool: PJ Harvey, Belle and Sebastian, Nico, Blur, and a host of others. I get all the references, but I think even if you don't it would be fun for once not to have a show whose scripts are directed at the lowest common denominator but no higher.
I have to add that I love the interaction between Lorelai and Rory. They have what is without question the finest onscreen relationship between parent and child on TV. Oh, and I'd like to add that more than one person (well, two) has told me that Lorelai and Rory remind them of me and my daughter, so I like to keep that in mind when I watch the show.