WCBE

Ahead Of Revival, 'Gilmore Girls' Fans Descend On The 'Real' Stars Hollow

Oct 22, 2016

Stars Hollow, the picturesque setting of the TV show The Gilmore Girls is practically a character of its own. Close-knit (sometimes to a fault), the fictional New England town is filled with lovable oddballs who gossip over coffee, bicker at town meetings, and make viewers wonder if there's anything remotely like it in the real world.

The answer is ... sort of.

Stars Hollow is based on a real New England town — Washington, Conn. — where show creator Amy Sherman-Palladino, hatched the idea during a weekend stay. With a revival planned in late November, some fans are making a pilgrimage to Washington on October 21 for the Gilmore Girls Fan Fest.

In case you haven't seen it, Gilmore Girls follows the story of mother/daughter best friends Lorelai and Rory. Lorelai is the proprietor of The Dragonfly Inn, which was inspired by Washington's Mayflower Grace Inn. It was here where Sherman-Palladino came up with the idea for the show.

"She was really just captivated by the feel of the inn, and the town of Washington, which is very much a small country town," says Mayflower manager Monica Neumann.

There's a locally-owned grocery store and a diner in Washington, too, just like the show. Neumann says it's a town where people see their neighbors on the street every day.

"It is a little bit of a step back in time," Neumann explains. "It refreshes and revives you and restores your faith in the community."

But Stars Hollow has a level of quirk that maybe no real town can match. There's a wandering town troubadour, a local dance teacher who knows everybody's business, a crotchety grocery owner, not to mention frequent town meetings, a knitathon festival and a dance marathon.

Mark Lyon is Washington's First Selectman. He says he didn't know anything about Gilmore Girls -- not even its connection to Washington, Conn. — until he got a call from someone who wanted to organize a three-day festival for fans. Since then, he's watched six episodes.

"While I don't recognize myself or anybody in particular, it portrays Stars Hollow as a caring community where people know each other," he says. "And we have some idiosyncrasies, all of us do."

Lyon says not everybody's happy about all the attention from outsiders — people here value their privacy. But he thinks the hubbub will quiet down, and things will go back to how they've pretty much always been.

"The land of steady habits can be pretty well defined by Washington," he says. "I don't see any big dramatic changes. I mean, the town will continue on."

But this weekend, the town's offering fans some familiar sights from the fictional Stars Hollow — including, of course, a town troubadour.

Copyright 2016 WSHU Public Radio Group. To see more, visit WSHU Public Radio Group.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

The fictional town of Stars Hollow is the backdrop for the "Gilmore Girls" TV show. Stars Hollow is based on a real town called Washington, Conn. This weekend, some fans are making a pilgrimage to Washington, Conn., to celebrate the show's return to screens later this year. Davis Dunavin of member station WSHU reports.

DAVIS DUNAVIN: In case you haven't seen it yet, "Gilmore Girls" is about a mother and a daughter in a New England town full of eccentric characters.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "GILMORE GIRLS")

LAUREN GRAHAM: (As Lorelai) Hi, everyone. Welcome to the Dragonfly Inn.

LIZ TORRES: (As Miss Patty) Oh, will you look at this place.

SALLY STRUTHERS: (As Babette) It's a paradise. Oh, Lorelai, the babies that are going to be conceived on this property.

DUNAVIN: That inn was inspired by Washington's Mayflower Grace Inn. Manager Monica Neumann says the show's creator, Amy Sherman-Palladino, hatched the idea during a weekend stay.

MONICA NEUMANN: She was really just captivated by the feel of the inn and the town of Washington, which is very much a small country town.

DUNAVIN: There's a locally owned grocery store and a diner in Washington, too, just like in the show. Neumann says it's a close-knit town where people see their neighbors on the street everyday.

NEUMANN: It is a little bit of a step back in time. But that - it refreshes and revives you and restores your faith in the community.

DUNAVIN: But Stars Hollow has a level of quirk that maybe no real town can match. There's a wandering town troubadour with a guitar. A second troubadour shows up to challenge him, so he takes up the dispute at a town meeting.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "GILMORE GIRLS")

GRANT-LEE PHILLIPS: (As Grant) And there's no room for a second troubadour in Stars Hollow.

TED ROONEY: (As Morey) Clearly.

MICHAEL WINTERS: (As Taylor) This is, hands down, the silliest thing I have ever heard.

PHILLIPS: (As Grant) All I'm asking is that the town troubadour laws be enforced.

WINTERS: (As Taylor) There are no town troubadour laws.

DUNAVIN: Mark Lyon is Washington's first selectman. He says he didn't know anything about "Gilmore Girls" - not even its connection to Washington, Conn. - until he got a call from someone who wanted to organize a three-day festival for fans.

MARK LYON: I'll admit that I have watched six episodes now. And while I don't recognize myself, or anybody in particular, it portrays Stars Hollow as a caring community where people know each other. And we have some idiosyncrasies, all of us do.

DUNAVIN: Lyon says not everybody's happy about all the attention from outsiders. People here value their privacy. But he thinks the hubbub will quiet down, and things will go back to how they've pretty much always been.

LYON: The Land of Steady Habits can be pretty well-defined by Washington. I don't see any big, dramatic changes. I mean, the town will continue on.

DUNAVIN: But this weekend, the town's offering fans some familiar sights from the fictional Stars Hollow, including, of course, a town troubadour.

For NPR News, I'm Davis Dunavin in Connecticut. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.