Gilmore Girls is excellent not for its mother-daughter relationship so much as for its richly drawn world, populated by warm, loving neighbors who accept each other, no matter how cranky or aloof they may be.
The Stars Hollow Dinner
“The Bracebridge Dinner” is the best display of what Stars Hollow has to offer from its citizens, who gather around the Independence Inn when a wealthy paper company has to cancel its plan to fly to Connecticut from Chicago for a four-hour, seven-course, historically-inspired Christmas dinner. We see their authentic lives on display, and it’s a treat to watch them interact under one roof (what a privilege that seems in this year of COVID!) despite their differences. As a result, Richard and Emily, Lorelai’s WASP-y parents turn on their charm, beguilging the town selectman and delighting in each other’s company. The drawback to an ensemble cast is spending less time with favorite characters (the Kims, mostly) but the benefit then is less time with the less beloved (Dean). For a firsttime viewer, this is the best chance to draw in tourists to Stars Hollow, who might otherwise be turned off by one of the show’s worst boyfriends. (It’s hard to choose between Luke post-April and Dean’s early years.) Positioned in the middle of season two, “The Bracebridge Dinner” is a sweet spot for the series: the Lorelais are sweet and clever, rather than plagued with the awfulness we see in the later seasons.
Visually, the only course we see is soup. This is a shame, as the Independence Inn’s kitchen is overflowing with bulbous vegetables, verdant greens, and fluffy pastries. (Often the set design is so rapturous that it must set Nancy Meyers’s teeth on edge.) The chatter and clamour of Sookie’s menu is discussed in such detail (“…Thirty pounds of aged beef! Trays and trays of trout. Mountains of prune tarts! I sliced pumpkins until I turned orange…”) that it doesn’t matter that we don’t see much of the meal.
The Real Bracebridge Dinner
I wrote several hundred words (sadly not an exaggeration) explaining how “The Bracebridge Dinner” is still a holiday episode due to surrounding events (winter break, the elder Gilmores winter holiday)–but the Bracebridge Dinner is a Real Thing: hosted in Yosemite Valley’s Ahwahnee Hotel for the month of December since its 1927 opening, the seven-course, four-hour dinner is a wildly popular event loosely inspired by Washington Irving’s A Christmas at Bracebridge Hall.
Given the opportunity, I’d prefer to go to Lorelai’s “over-the-top slumber party” in Connecticut.
You can watch the Gilmore Girls episode titled “Breakbridge” here