Sometimes the best way to de-stress after those stressful Thanksgiving dinner conversations is by watching some wholesome, feel-good TV with a mug of spiked cocoa. With the premiere of Netflix’s “Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life” coming Friday (read our review here), the original series is essentially comfort food for the mind, chock-full of intelligence and sharp-tongued wit.
For those who have yet to watch the original and need a crash course, here are the best episodes from each season to get you started. Netflix has all seven seasons available.
Note: This is not a favorites list — these are the episodes that best represent the series as a whole.
Season 1, Episodes 1 & 2 — “Pilot” & “The Lorelais’ First Day at Chilton”
Though technically two episodes, it’s imperative to watch the first two episodes in succession to grasp the show’s true grit. Set in the fictional Connecticut town of Stars Hollow, the series follows single mother, Lorelai, and her 16-year-old daughter, Rory. Though comforting and honest, the series moves at a lightening-fast pace — within the first three minutes of the pilot, the duo manages to reference Macy Gray, Jack Kerouac and RuPaul over coffee.
Season 2, Episode 4 — “The Road Trip to Harvard”
A fan favorite, “The Road Trip To Harvard” offers a rare glimpse at Lorelai’s vulnerable side. After Lorelai cancels her engagement a few days shy of the wedding, the Gilmore duo embark on an impromptu road trip through New England, most notably to Harvard University. Though fans were heartbroken when Lorelai broke it off with the handsomely bookish Max Medina, fans were mostly excited at the prospect of Lorelai finally sealing the deal with rugged diner-owner Luke.
Season 3, Episode 22 — “Those Are Strings, Pinocchio”
Graduation episodes are generally landmarks in TV series. The third season finale, “Those Are Strings, Pinocchio,” marked the end of an era for both the Gilmores and fans, as Rory graduates from high school as valedictorian and heads to Yale. With fans worried as to how the duo would be affected by Rory leaving home, the episode’s final scene encapsulates their tight-knit relationship thus far.
Season 4, Episode 22 — “Raincoats and Recipes”
Throughout Season 4, fans get their first glimpse of Rory’s rough transition into adulthood, most evident in the season finale “Raincoats and Recipes.” After losing her virginity to her now-married high school sweetheart, the mother-daughter duo’s relationship takes a hit as Lorelai tries to make Rory understand the severity of her actions.
Season 5, Episode 7 — “You Jump, I Jump, Jack”
In arguably “Girlmore Girls” most creative episode, Rory shadows one of Yale’s most elite and private secret societies for a college newspaper assignment. Not only is the episode sheer fun from the very beginning, but viewers finally see Logan, the spoiled, rich kid sailing his way through Yale, as more than just a brat. Even so, Rory and Logan’s flirtation depends faster than you can say “In omnia paratus.”
Season 6, Episode 9 — “The Prodigal Daughter Returns”
The end of Season 5 and first half of Season 6 was a painful time for the Gilmore clan, specifically Rory. After Rory gets arrested for stealing a yacht (yeah…), she drops out of Yale and moves in with her grandparents, infuriating Lorelai. With Lorelai and Rory not speaking for the first half of the season, their reunion in “The Prodigal Daughter Returns” will have you passing the tissues in one of the most tender moments of the series.
Season 7, Episode 22 — “Bon Voyage”
Let’s be real — Season 7 was a mess. With Amy Sherman-Palladino and Dan Palladino no longer on board as showrunners and writers, the final season left many fans with a bad taste in their mouth, as nothing ended the way it was supposed to. Regardless, the series finale “Bon Voyage” does offer some closure, most notably Lorelai’s long-awaited reconciliation with Luke. However, you might as well wait for the revival to experience the show’s true ending.
“Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life” premieres Friday, Nov. 25 at 12:01 a.m. on Netflix.