Has Netflix broken yet? With all the once and future Gilmore Girls fanatics hitting up the site since the series' debut on Wednesday, it seems like a real possibility.
For those who have yet to sample the warm blanket of TV goodness that is the Girls, we've selected 10 episodes that show off the series' funniest, smartest, most heartbreaking, most heartwarming, just plain most awesome moments to get you started on what will eventually be — trust us — the latest entry on your binge-watch list.
And for those who have already joined us in Gilmore Girls worship but couldn't convince your boss you had a case of sniffles that would require a sick leave just long enough so you could watch all 153 episodes again, consider this a little reminder of all the things that made you fall in love with the series… before you inevitably end up watching the whole thing again, of course.
The Best Lorelai and Rory Episode
"Those Are Strings, Pinocchio"— Season 3, Episode 22
So many to choose from here, as the mother-daughter/BFFs relationship between Lorelais II and III (remember, Trix is the original Lorelai) is the series' central focus and one of the most deliciously and deeply explored mother-daughter relationships in TV history. But this one, which revolves around Rory's Chilton graduation, is special because it features the culmination of this experience that mom and kid both worked so hard for (and which, importantly, was the spark for bringing the Gilmore family together).
As Rory is ending high school and ready to embark on her college days, Lorelai also begins the next phase of her life when she and Sookie buy the Dragonfly Inn (even though she almost sacrificed it to pay for Rory's Yale tuition). And even Luke, in one of the rare instances he wasn't attired in flannel and a backward baseball cap, couldn't maintain dry eyes when Rory thanked Lorelai in her valedictorian speech.
"My mother never gave me any idea that I couldn't do whatever I wanted to do or be whomever I wanted to be," she said. "She filled our house with love and fun and books and music, unflagging in her efforts to give me role models from Jane Austen to Eudora Welty to Patti Smith. As she guided me through these incredible 18 years, I don't know if she ever realized that the person I most wanted to be was her."
Excuse us for a moment… something in our eyes…
The Best Lorelai and Luke Episode
"Written in the Stars" — Season 5, Episode 3
Again, no lack of special moments and episodes for the show's central romantic pairing, but this episode includes our favorite, when the will-they-or-won't-they couple finally go on their first official date after Luke gets up the nerve to declare his feelings for Lorelai. While she tries to remember the first time they met, Luke goes into detail describing the scenario: It was at his diner, at lunch, and Lorelai, of course, was jonesing for coffee and asked him for his birthdate. During the ensuing exchange, she ripped Luke's horoscope out of the newspaper, wrote something on it, and gave it to him. Eight years later, during this very date, he pulls a slip of paper out of his wallet and hands it to her. Of course, it's the horoscope! Luke had kept it and carried it that whole time, just one of many examples of how much, and for how long, he cared about her. Said he: "Lorelai, this thing we're doing here, me, you, I just want you to know I'm in. I am all in."
The Best Lorelai and Emily Episode
"Dear Emily and Richard"— Season 3, Episode 13
This one, maybe more than any other, is the epitome of everything that was great about Gilmore Girls, from the witty dialogue and the performances to the genuine affection the writers have for all the characters and their commitment to exploring all sides of the complicated Gilmore family dynamic.
A painful event in Lorelai's life — the impending birth of her babydaddy's new child — triggers flashbacks about the circumstances of Rory's birth, when Richard and Emily were disappointed with her teen pregnancy but absolutely devastated when she ran away from their home with infant Rory. You'll develop a whole new respect for the Gilmore 'rents, who believed just as strongly that they were doing the right thing as Lorelai did when she fled the roost. Even Lorelai realizes, via her own heartbreak about Christopher fathering a child with someone else, how much she hurt Emily, in particular, and makes a peace offering of a DVD player and a selection of DVDs of Emily's beloved movie musicals. That also makes for a sweet nod to Emily portrayer Kelly Bishop, a dancer who won a Tony for originating the role of Sheila in A Chorus Line.
The Best Lorelai and Richard Episode
"Help Wanted"— Season 2, Episode 20
Richard is starting his own insurance biz, but given the callous manner in which he was cast aside by the company he had devoted his entire career to, and the fact that he's now flying sans company secretary, he's in a fragile, somewhat clueless state when it comes to actually getting an office up and running. Enter queen of self-sufficiency and common sense know-how Lorelai, who not only takes Richard on a fun shopping trip to an office supply store — we totally get his wonder at how many colors and shapes Post-its come in — and introduces him to the pleasures of a good ordered-in lunch sandwich while she organizes his office and acts as his temp secretary.
The scenario not only bonded the two in new ways, but also it allowed Richard to see that despite her detour from the life path he'd originally envisioned for her, Lorelai turned out to be the smart, talented, hard-working daughter he'd raised.
The Best Sookie Episode
"The Deer Hunters"— Season 1, Episode 4
Yes, this is the one where Rory famously hits a deer — or rather, as she has to keep explaining to everyone — is hit by a deer. But it also features the first great Sookie storyline. We know she's clumsy (which provided a hint at just how gifted a physical comedian Melissa McCarthy is) and sometimes adorably ditzy, but Sookie is also the bearer of knowledge of all things food and how to prepare it to bring out the very best flavors, skills of which she is immensely proud. So when food critic Lucent Mills gives an otherwise rave review to the Inn's restaurant but deems her "magic risotto" merely "perfectly fine," she freaks out. She performs a Sherlock Holmes-worthy investigation to learn that he drank, she thinks, the wrong wine pairing; scopes out his undercover identity; and takes a bowl of the risotto and a glass of the right wine to his house… and waits outside his door until he samples it and confirms what she knows to be true: It is magic risotto!
The Best Gilmore Girls Holiday Episode
"A Deep Fried Korean Thanksgiving"— Season 3, Episode 9
A drunk Sookie — dealing with Jackson's family's decision to deep-fry everything, edible or not — is merely one of the delights of this installment, in which Lorelai and Rory find themselves committed to attend four separate Thanksgiving dinners.
The one at Lane's house is extra harsh. Mrs. Kim's Tofurkey can be hidden in napkins, but she never averts her eyes long enough for Lorelai to stash it. And even famously hearty eaters like the Gilmore girls are challenged by having to scarf down all that food. In the end, their adventure leads them back to Luke's Diner, where, of course, they top off a day of holiday gorging with a cup of coffee and a bag of leftover dinner rolls.
The Best Stars Hollow Episode
"The Bracebridge Dinner"— Season 2, Episode 10
The town itself, with its perfect quaintness, meticulously manicured by Taylor Doose, is like another character on the show, and it's exactly the kind of town where a fancy-schmancy formal sit-down like the Bracebridge dinner would take place. Lorelai and Sookie put much time and effort into planning the throwback affair — complete with period costumes, servers, food, and music — only to have their clients cancel when they got snowed in. But with the plans set and a whole mess of peacock pie to be dished out, the pals decide to invite their fellow Stars Hollow dwellers — plus Richard and Emily — to enjoy the festivities, which include horse-drawn carriage rides through the snow-covered streets and extra face time with SH citizenry like Babette and Morey, Rune, Bootsy, and the always randy Miss Patty, who's got her motor running for one of the handsome servers. Another highlight: server Kurt trying to stay in retro character, only to be tripped up by Lorelai into discussing I Love Lucy.
The Best Emily Episode
"We've Got Magic to Do"— Season 6, Episode 5
Grandma Emily has her issues with everyone, including her beloved Rory. And no one wants to see Rory married off to a Richie Rich family like the Huntzbergers more than Emily does. But when she gets confirmation from Richard that, as Lorelai had told her months before, the Huntzbergers had been rude to Rory, telling her to her face that she simply wasn't good enough to join their clan, Emily showed just how fierce and fiercely loyal a Gilmore girl she could be.
She smiled and spoke in a sing-songy tone as she told Shira Huntzberger that her husband was a playboy, that everyone knew it, that everyone knew that was the reason her weight fluctuated by 30 pounds every other month, and that Rory and the rest of the Gilmores were every bit as good as the Huntzbergers. Basically, it was Emily's way of letting Shira know she would cut a be-yotch for mistreating her granddaughter.
P.S. This category was the toughest one to narrow down to just one episode, because Kelly Bishop's performance as Emily was perfection every single moment she was on screen. So we have to mention our runner-up Emily episode, Season 4's "Scene in a Mall," in which Emily's shopping spree is both awe-inspiring and frightening. We get a sad glimpse into how lonely her life can be sometimes.
The Best Gilmore Family Episode
"Friday Night's Alright for Fighting"— Season 6, Episode 13
After all the family squabbles and that awful time period during which Rory and Lorelai didn't speak, the Gilmores worked out their issues to the point of resuming Friday night dinner… and then they really worked out some issues. In one of the series' best montages, seasons, maybe even decades, worth of dramas are hashed out — it's like Frank Costanza's Festivus airing of the grievances — in between drinks, dinner, and some fine fruity sorbet. Everyone is left exhausted in the end, but the memory of Emily and Richard excitedly relating to Lorelai and Rory exactly how Emily verbally smacked down Shira Huntzberger (see above) made it all worth it.
The Best Gilmore Girls Guest Star Episode
"That'll Do, Pig"— Season 3, Episode 10
And the best ever Gilmore Girls guest star is… Happy Days mama Marion Ross, who was the antithesis of Marion Cunningham as the original Lorelai "Trix" Gilmore, Richard's mom and the woman who lived to torment her daughter-in-law, Emily. The irony was lost on no one that Trix's treatment of Emily mirrored Emily's treatment of Lorelai, which made it pure fun for everyone else (even a bemused Richard) to watch the usually flawless Emily jump through hoops and still not be able to please Trix for a second.
In "That'll Do Pig," Trix is in town to check on her house — which, hilariously, she had been renting to Korn, who planted tulips in her front yard — but what she really wants to do is check out Lorelai's home and workplace and send an endless string of zingers flying at Emily, who finally turns to — who else? — Lorelai for a helpful bit of advice on dealing with her monster-in-law.