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7 Life Lessons We Get From 'Gilmore Girls' — including Grandma Emily

Reflect on the popular TV series before it returns on Netflix

spinner image Gilmore Girls, A Year in the Life
(Left to Right) Kelly Bishop, Lauren Graham, and Alexis Bledel
Robert Voets/Courtesy of Netflix

Millions of fans of the TV phenomenon Gilmore Girls are eagerly awaiting the Netflix drop on Nov. 25 of four new 90-minute episodes.

Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life moves the story of a young single mom and her teen daughter into current times, returning them to the small Connecticut town of quirky characters that made it a warmhearted drama with a devoted following. It aired for seven seasons on the WB network, ending in 2007 after 153 episodes. All can be found now on Netflix.

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The "girls" are mom Lorelai Gilmore, played by Lauren Graham; her daughter, Rory, played by Alexis Bledel; and grandmother Emily Gilmore, played by Kelly Bishop. The original series ignited a culture of fandom and still resonates with viewers of all ages, particularly millennial women and their mothers.

spinner image Gilmore Girls, Season 1
The Gilmore Girls extended gang: Melissa McCarthy (left), Scott Patterson (2nd from left), Edward Herrmann (center, back), Lauren Graham (center, front), Alexis Bledel (4th from right), Yanic Truesdale (2nd from right), Keiko Agena (right), (Season 1), 2000-2007
Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett Collection

Among the many charms of the show is the constant exchange of smart and fast repartee among all characters, into which is tucked dozens of life lessons. Among those we like best:

1. Be smart

In the first season Lorelai, who became pregnant with Rory at 16, makes one thing clear to her now-teen daughter: School trumps boys. She tells supersmart Rory, who wants to stay at the town high school for a boyfriend rather than go to an elite prep school: "Babe, guys are always going to be there. This school isn't. It's more important. It has to be more important."

spinner image Gilmore Girls, Season 5
Actors Lauren Graham, Scott Patterson and David Sutcliffe in "Wedding Bell Blues" episode
Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett Collection

2. Do not meddle

Grandma Emily is a first-class meddler, but in Season 5 she goes too far. Her scheme to break up Lorelai and then-boyfriend Luke, of whom Emily disapproves, works very well: Inviting Lorelai's ex to a family function does the trick. Soon, however, it's Lorelai and Emily who are estranged.

3. Grandkid shaming will not stand

When the parents of Rory's rich boyfriend humiliate Rory, Emily unleashes a tirade of nasty insults at his mother. "You were a two-bit gold digger fresh off the bus from Hicksville when you met Mitchum at whatever bar you happened to stumble into. And what made Mitchum decide to choose you to marry amongst the pack of women he was bedding at the time, I'll never know." Whoa.

4. Deal with disapproval in your own way

Lorelai brushes off her mother's constant criticism, explaining in Season 3: "One day, I decided that instead of being hurt and upset by your disapproval, I'm gonna be amused. I'm gonna find it funny. I'm even going to take a little bit of pleasure in it."

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5. Pop culture is the stuff of life

Gilmore Girls creator Amy Sherman-Palladino sprinkles allusions to film, TV, books and music throughout every episode. (New York magazine counted nearly 1,000 pop-culture references in seven seasons.) The documentary film Grey Gardens, for example, is a thread of discussion for Lorelai and Rory, who frequently discuss their fear of becoming Big Edie and Little Edie Beale, the eccentric mother-daughter duo on which the movie is centered.

6. Own your look

Lorelai has a kooky-but-cute style in the first few seasons (leather jackets, bold patterns, bucket hats and signature bandannas). By series end she's rocking Diane von Furstenberg wrap dresses. The show's real clotheshorse, however, is Emily, whose idea of casual is Chanel suits and killer heels.

7. It's never too late to do anything you want

Throughout the series the ladies learn that age or time passed should not be obstacles to doing what matters most. They reconcile with parents or children, go back to school to finish a degree, start a successful business, fall in love and take inspiring risks large and small.

Briana Fasone writes about entertainment and culture from New York.

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