Light Is Not Like Chicken, Or a Brief Reflection on “Gilmore Girls” vs. “Bunheads”
Amy Sherman-Palladino is a writer. She is a creator of worlds and stories. And if her worlds are populated with strong and sassy female characters, pop culture references, insane amounts of coffee, and Sam Phillips’ strumming interludes, then those are worlds in which I’d like to live. And if I can’t live in them, then I’d like to watch them on TV. Isn’t that why we sit in front of glowing screens for hours on end? To let their characters populate our minds and pretend that we can populate those worlds for a while?
We’ve been let into one of those worlds once before - for six (technically seven) full years - and an eternity if you watch the reruns on ABC Family or buy the box set (which I lovingly refer to as “The Purse.” Because it’s a giant purse). And it left a massive, Gilmore-shaped imprint on our souls. And that’s a beautiful thing that we carry with us always. But, now, there’s another story to tell.
When I first started watching “Bunheads,” I tried to make the pieces of two different puzzles fit together. Boo could be like Rory and Sasha like Paris. Or Sasha could be a totally new version of Rory and Boo could be the totally new foil. And the tri-generational set up of Emily, Lorelai, and Rory Gilmore could soon be represented by Fanny Flowers, Michelle Simms, and Sasha Torres. But then there’s still Boo. And on and on until, wait - ! I remembered what my physics professor used to say. “Light is not like chicken.” Let me explain.
When scientists first discovered that light had the properties of both waves and particles, they didn’t know what to do! Is it a wave? Is it a particle? What’s going on here? It turns out, it’s its own damn thing, which bred its own damn branch of science: quantum physics. Likewise, if you find yourself eating alligator for the first time, you might be tempted to say, “It tastes like chicken,” because you need something with which to compare it. You need to reference something familiar, something already categorized, in order to understand it. But sometimes the best new things come to define themselves. And you realize, alligator is like alligator! Light is like light! Sasha is like Sasha! Boo is like Boo!
Many revered filmmakers string their teams along with them for various projects throughout their successful careers. Those teams can include producers, directors, crew members, music artists, and yes, actors. Tim Burton has made countless films with Danny Elfman’s music and the on-screen talents of Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter. Quentin Tarantino is known for sensational film soundtracks and latching onto actors like Christoph Waltz, Uma Thurman, etc. If auteurs can do it, why can’t showrunners?
When your job is to put words in people’s mouths, you find the best mouths to deliver those words and never let them go!
Going on, “Gilmore” lovers will feel at home with the similar themes, sets, and certain technical elements of “Bunheads.” We know how much Amy loves her master shots. But the characters are their own, real and raw and trying to live their lives out in front of us, with us, and Amy knows how to make the choices that best serve her story. That’s what she’s always done and that’s why we keep coming back.
Plus, despite a short stint at Miss Patty’s, Rory and Lorelai in a ballet class would’ve been disastrous.