A Conversation With Perfume Genius About ‘Gilmore Girls’
Set my Stars Hollow on fire immediately.
Mike Hadreas, the musician known as Perfume Genius, recently binge-watched the early-aughts teen drama Gilmore Girls for the first time. I know this from Twitter. As a Perfume Genius fan, and as someone who is required to watch Gilmore Girls every day for medical reasons that are actually none of your business, I was delighted to see two of my interests meeting, and to finally have an excuse to approach Hadreas under the guise of work. Thankfully, he accepted my request to discuss the series at length.
Gawker: How far have you gotten in the series?
Perfume Genius: I haven’t watched the very final episode of the reboot or whatever it is.
A Year in the Life?
Oh, yeah. I don’t think I will watch it, for some reason. Just the last one. It’s been weeks now and I haven’t watched it.
Why not? And what did you think of the reboot?
It’s kind of heavier than the rest of it. There’s grief, there’s therapy, there’s group therapy. It’s acknowledging a lot of things that they didn’t acknowledge for the whole 15 years or whatever that it was on the air before. I mean, I still liked it, because it was more Gilmore Girls. But I didn’t like it as much. It wasn’t as campy, in the way that I liked the rest of it.
What made you start watching the original series?
Just the amount of episodes. I just wanted something that was going to take a long time for me to get through, something escape-y, and that I thought would be stupid. You know, stupid enough to engage in, but not have to deeply engage in, if I didn’t want to.
Was it different than you expected? As stupid, or not as stupid?
I don’t think it was stupid, for sure. I didn’t even like it at first. I actually actively disliked it for, like, five episodes, and then something completely switched, and I was just like, “Oh, I’m fully immersed in a way that, like … these are my friends.”
What didn’t you like about it?
It was just kind of cringey. You know when you meet someone and you think they’re liberal or progressive from their presentation or the way they talk, but then you realize, oh, they’re pro life, after you’re around them a little bit? Even though they’re wearing zany colors, or something? It felt like that, a little bit. A little bit of that energy. It was like … these women would kill me.
Did you end up feeling differently, or did you just get used to it?
I think I probably just got used to it. I care about them, but I still feel a little bit of that energy.
I get that.
Did they talk about voting? Or did they talk about how they voted, or Hillary [Clinton], or something, in the reboot?
Well, Rory was always obsessed with Hillary. And obviously at the end of the original series she left to follow Barack Obama on the campaign trail.
But I’m not sure if voting was mentioned in the reboot. Or even when it took place? I think it was before Hillary lost. It’s hard to gauge because, for all the pop culture references, there aren't really a lot of political references.
Yeah, and it’s all in an unchanging location. That’s what’s so comforting about it, though, honestly.
I was wondering whether the feeling of comfort was because of nostalgia, or if it was something you could feel as a new Gilmore Girls viewer. But you felt it was comforting?
Yeah, I didn’t watch it growing up, or anything. But it’s nostalgia for a time when I didn’t have as many anxieties. It’s like when, in the beginning of the pandemic, I listened to Green Day all the time. It’s nostalgia for a time when I wasn’t scared of the things I’m scared of now. And they clearly are not scared of those things. They’re like … in crowds of people, and they’re not afraid of that. Not even a small amount. It’s been kind of comforting. But it’s also weirdly deranged, even for back then, honestly.
They just seem not affected by anything other than their own experience. Like, outside of their own experience of everything, it's almost like it doesn't exist.
Completely. They’re just dealing with their boyfriends. Did you have a favorite boyfriend?
I mean, they’re all bad. They’re different kinds and different levels of bad. But I like Dean, everybody hates Dean.
You like Dean??
Why does everybody hate him?
He’s just very controlling and intense.
Yeah, I mean, maybe I’m just fucked up. But they’re supposed to be like 16, right? I don’t know, he seemed nice. And he truly seemed to care about her. And they wrote him into a kind of fucked-up thing, but I think I’m thinking of him as he was during the first bit of their relationship.
Yeah, he became more grating as they moved you into wanting her to be with Jess.
I don’t know why I liked him, maybe he reminded me of somebody. I have a high tolerance for toxicity, though, unfortunately. Like it doesn’t even faze me. People are like, that’s fucked up, and I’m like — oh wait, what? What part of it?
It’s okay, we all have things to work through. And liking Dean is forgivable because Jess is also horrible.
Yeah, people love him, but he was just like … She would be talking to him, and he would just turn around and leave. He’s like, “I love you,” and then he would just, like, break something and move across the country. And everybody’s like, we love him! And I don’t think he had a job or anything. Oh no, he did — he worked at Walmart, right?
He worked at Walmart. And then at an independent book publisher in Philadelphia.
That was cool. That’s what's kind of creepy … like, I’m a 41-year-old man, and I’m like, “Oh, I mean, that’s cool.”
It is cool. He put out a little book … his novella.
And the other one. The rich guy.
He was probably the healthiest one, honestly. And he was very transparent with her, and had really good boundaries. The least toxic. But I liked him the least.
He could have at least helped Rory’s career if she’d stayed with him. How do you feel about her career trajectory? Do you think she’s a talented writer?
I mean, why not? Sure? Part of the show is kind of sci-fi to me. Like her, what she wants, where she went to school … all that stuff was very far away from me. So I don’t even know. But she probably would be a good writer, honestly, because she's so detached and unfeeling. She kind of lacks a lot of empathy. But maybe she has it all when she’s writing. Because I know people like that. I’m not like that, but I can be.
I think the main feedback we see about her writing in the original series is that it’s too mean — about Logan’s company launch party, or about the ballerina.
Well, she also just never really cares until it directly affects her. Like, she’s not upset that she hurt anybody’s feelings. She’s upset that they don’t like her writing.
If you had to spend an entire day alone with either Rory or Lorelai, who would you pick?
Lorelai. I like that she just married people, or didn’t marry them, for really wild reasons. It made for a good show. I also like how they’re supposed to be really close, but they would just not talk to each other for like a year because like one of them’s late, or something. It was so confusing, the reasons why they were having a falling out sometimes. I guess I like it because it means that nothing really tragic has happened, if that’s what's tragic, you know? It’s kind of cozy.
Yeah, like how you tweeted about how they’re not afraid of dying. Though I guess that changes in A Year in the Life.
Yeah, that’s why I’m not watching the last episode. I want to keep my feeling about that intact.
Who do you think is a better mom, Emily or Lorelai?
Lorelai. Emily is my favorite character, though.
I love Emily. Why is she your favorite?
I think because she’s just so transparent. She says everything she’s thinking, and she’s kind of reliably the same all the time. Which makes her feel trustworthy, even if you don’t like her. Also, she’s just, like, an older woman. She’s very gay icon-y. And she reminds me of my grandma.
As a musician, what did you think of Lane as a musician?
I like that subplot. I like Lane. They didn’t give her a lot of dimension sometimes, but I liked — what was her band called, Hep Alien? I remembered that, that was good.
You did a great job.
I really didn’t like her boyfriend guy.
Zack, the one she marries?
Yeah, I didn’t understand it. Not even in a, “oh, I see what they’re trying to do, they just didn’t do it in the writing” way. I just didn’t understand it.
No. Adam Brody was good as her boyfriend, though.
I loved him.
But the husband was horrible.
Yeah, because she’s smart and has good taste; that was her whole thing. And he was neither of those things.
He was a doofus. Okay I have one more question — do you remember when Emily met Mia, the owner of the Inn who gave Lorelai a job as a teen, and Mia explained that when Lorelai came to her she did what she would have wanted someone to do for her daughter, which was to take her in? And Emily says she would have preferred that she sent her home? Who do align with there — Mia or Emily?
I mean, honestly, my instinct is to just give her a job. If people leave, they usually leave for a reason. Especially if they have a baby and they’re leaving, you know? Because no matter how difficult things are at home, it’s probably easier in a lot of ways to stay.
That’s a good point, and actually I now agree. Is there anything else you want to share about Gilmore Girls before I let you go?
When they were at the airport together, and Lorelai was not getting on the flight, but they were at the gate together not wearing masks? Every show is kind of like that, like “why are they in a crowd not wearing masks,” but there was something about it … it was like the most unmasked show I’d ever seen. I’ll miss that about it.
But also, the whole time I watched it, I felt a little bad for being nostalgic. Like, I’m nostalgic for a time that was sort of fucked up. Because there are a lot of fucked-up jokes in the early seasons. So I felt icky, sometimes, being nostalgic for that time.