The world of streaming options has led to a huge glut of TV shows that friends will pull you aside and earnestly tell you you just have to watch. But who has time for all of that? Let the Vox culture experts pick the one and only episode you need to see to talk knowledgeably about the show. And, hey, if you like it? You just might want to watch even more.
This week's pick: Gilmore Girls
Why: Well, for one thing, it's coming to Netflix as of Wednesday. It will be the first time the beloved family dramedy, which originally aired on the old WB and then on the CW for its final season, has been available on streaming. We'll have your complete guide to binging the full run of the series later today, but right now is all about making sure you sound like you know what you're talking about from watching just one episode.
And you'll probably enjoy that episode! Created by Amy Sherman-Palladino, Gilmore Girls was one of the freshest and funniest shows of its era, quick with a pop culture quip or a screwball romantic complication. It was also one of the fastest, cramming scripts that could run up over 70 pages into the standard network running time of 42-44 minutes. The dialogue blazed by, and you had to keep paying attention to catch every reference and gag.
But the show was also deeply humane and wonderfully warm. The characters truly cared about each other, and the relationships might bruise and wound, but would never break. The show's tremendous ensemble assisted in this, but the core of the show were the relationships between mother Lorelai (Lauren Graham), daughter Rory (Alexis Bledel), and grandmother Emily (Kelly Bishop). Gilmore Girls was possessed of an incredible emotional intelligence, about the difficulty both of being a parent and of being a child.
The one episode: "A Deep-Fried Korean Thanksgiving" (season 3, episode 9)
What's it about: Lorelai and Rory find themselves invited to multiple Thanksgivings one fateful November and undertake the eating marathon to end all eating marathons.
Why you should watch: "Deep-Fried" sits smack-dab in the middle of the show's best season (and two episodes after what is arguably its best episode, though one that's less representative of the show as a whole than this one). The episode possesses ample amounts of everything that made Gilmore Girls so great. It has mother-daughter bonding. It has romantic complications. It has great jokes. It has the feel of New England in the fall. And it has terrific moments for almost every member of the show's sprawling ensemble cast.
At its heart, Gilmore Girls is a small town show, about the weirdoes and oddballs of Stars Hollow, Connecticut, where Lorelai and Rory make their home. The setting is fundamentally a romantic one, the Platonic ideal of a quirky small town where everybody knows what you're up to but also will pull tightly into a protective shield around you, should anyone wrong you. And in its whirlwind tour of several different Thanksgiving feasts, "Deep-Fried" will give you a quick appreciation for why so many fans of the show want to move to Stars Hollow. As a bonus, it underlines and highlights nearly every important relationship on the show, so if someone asks you about Lorelai's troubled relationship with Emily, you can speak with confidence.
So give "Deep-Fried Korean Thanksgiving" a try. You'll likely be glad you did, and then, hey, the whole show is there on Netflix, just waiting for you to stream it.