Amy Sherman Palladino: The Queen of Pop Culture

July 5, 2018

 

Lorelai: “OK, you’ve been in this mood for a week now and while I love the unexpected ups and downs of motherhood, I’ve got to say I’m tired of Goofus and I’d like my Gallant back.”

Rory: “You can’t just say a normal sentence, right? Just ‘Hey, let’s talk’ is too dull for you.”

 

When I first came across the show Gilmore Girls, I brushed it aside assuming it to be a boring, avoidable tale of two women and their life in a small town. And at face value, it’s just that! Oh, what a different life I would be leading if I hadn’t discovered the joy of being zapped and getting hooked to the riveting dialogue this show delivers. It drove me crazy trying to comprehend how a simple story-line with a female protagonist who leaves her parents’ house to build a life on her own terms, can turn out to be so engaging and fascinating, to say the least.

 

Enter, Amy Sherman Palladino.

 

We often underestimate the power and impact good scripts and great material can have and Palladino is a writer who, for me, is nothing short of pure genius. The flawed characters in her shows often come with a variety of quirks and eccentricity is a personality trait in all lead characters, something that only she can pull off fabulously. Lorelai Gilmore was a character I loved right from the pilot episode of this show, someone with such a strong voice, opinion and passion, it felt like she was someone I knew all along, someone I became friends with as we sat at Luke’s sharing copious amounts of coffee and bitching about Emily Gilmore’s hypocrisy. What Palladino does best, however, is the fast paced, witty dialogue which can be so quick, you could miss out on 3 pop culture references, 2 witty comebacks, breathless monologues and a dose of sarcasm, all within the blink of an eye. References about famous musicians, writers, directors, actors, etc. can all leave you utterly lost and yet that does not stop one from enjoying the show, because the pace is so fast, the mother-daughter duo have moved on to another topic before you could process the previous one. And that keeps you engaged, interested and on your toes. Gilmore Girls was one of the series written-directed by Amy that gained a lot of acclaim much later on, as opposed to being an instant success. And surprisingly, even today, the writing doesn’t seem even a little bit dated. The perspectives are clear, the characters have a back story that could possibly make up another series and the relationships have been well thought out. The town is slightly fantastical and one could argue about things like how the girls are self-proclaimed lovers of food (especially, junk) but never seem to put on any weight. On the other hand, show off toned arms without exercising, something they seem to be proud off. But in Palladino’s universe, these are not things you pay attention to.

 So when I heard that she had written one more show and won a Golden Globe for the best television series –Musical or Comedy, I wasn’t surprised.

 

 The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is like a dream to watch on screen and the script flows like a poem. Every scene is shot with excruciating attention to detail and a great focus on aesthetic. Style, outfits, tonality, the language, the period portrayed, everything comes together. With every last bit of detail thought of, Palladino wrote and directed this piece of art with two brilliant actors, Rachel Brosnahan and Alex Borstein. Nothing like Gilmore Girls and yet having a classic Amy Sherman Palladino touch, this show is escapist, glamorous, dramatic and not missing the witty, punchy dialogue that she does best. The characters are just as bonkers as the previous shows and yet extremely relatable. Tony Shalhoub, playing the father, is a hoot and Alex Borstein steals the show with her condescending, patronizing demeanor. Rachel Brosnahan does a beautiful job playing the intensely pretty, sassy, smart woman who has strong opinions and a funny stance. A girl trying hard to survive in a man’s world back in the 1950s. But the star of the show, yet again, is the writer herself. Amy, for me, is always someone who stands out and overpowers the actors, no matter how great they are at their jobs. And this happens because of the brilliance of the script she writes, the dialogue, direction crazy, out of the box content. The costumes, props, supporting actors, every tiny aspect of both the shows is precisely done and extremely specific to the kind of environment that is portrayed. The use of music for every scene is perfectly worked upon by her in her shows and not one note is out of sync with the mood or the setting prevailing on screen.

 

I have been smitten many a time by different series (Modern Family) and films, but I am yet to watch something like Gilmore Girls or The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, that truly blew my mind. Something that I can watch over and over and over again and not get bored, a show I will watch with my daughter, one that I can introduce to my mom and maybe with anyone and everyone.

Amy in an interview-
I think music on television is just uniformly dreadful. It is mundane, it says nothing. They use it to say, "Here's a funny moment!" ... you know? It's not an extension of the drama, it's distraction. It's like, "I'll distract you, so you won't know how shitty the show is...like a laugh track. That, to me, is what music on television is. They score everything from beginning to end so that after a while the music is just like white noise. It's not giving it its due, its place. Everything has its place. Shows would go by, and we wouldn't put a lot of music in because to me the music was an extension of the drama, so if you just throw it in under everything, it's like throwing a washing-machine sound effect in there, it's not the point of it. It's like having two characters have a long, not very interesting discussion for no other reason except to fill up screen time. 

 

 

 

 

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