The “Gilmore Guys,” Fandom, And Feminism

by Holly Trantham

When Kevin T. Porter and Demi Adejuyigbe began a little podcast about Gilmore Girls last fall—after the former half-jokingly tweeted the idea—they weren’t expecting a big audience to latch on. “When you first start anything that’s completely independent, you assume you’re operating in a vacuum and that 200 people max are going to listen,” Porter said.

So it’s probably surreal that, last Monday and Wednesday, hundreds of paying customers packed Brooklyn’s The Bell House—twice—and Manhattan’s Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre just to listen to these two dumb dudes (their words) talk about a television show that ended seven years ago.

With upwards of 90 episodes of the podcast available, Gilmore Guys covers each episode of the beloved TV series, placing equal emphasis on sincere analysis and lighthearted mockery. Episodes are released twice weekly, with recaps—usually including guests from the comedy world—interspersed with occasional shows dedicated to answering fan emails, call-ins, and even interviews with people associated with Gilmore Girls. The Guys have now recorded six of their episodes live to sold-out audiences in L.A., Austin, and New York.

Gillys, as fans of the podcast have been dubbed, regularly write in to the show and create fan art, mostly in the form of cross-stitches. More than 700 have left positive iTunes reviews just to hear their names freestyle-rapped in the podcast’s occasional “iTunes Review Challenge” segment. It’s clear the podcast has struck a chord with fans of the Gilmore universe. But why?

The nature of the show might have something to do with it. “As far as goals go, I just wanted make something I would want to listen to,” said Porter, a longtime fan. “It was an excuse to make comedy and talk to people that we love.” Adejuyigbe, on the other hand, is a first time viewer, so hardcore Gilmore Girls fans can vicariously experience the show for the first time through his watching.

For a lot of people, the initial draw of the show is two straight men talking about a show that’s been categorically described as “women’s entertainment.” But that’s not the Guys’ MO, as Adejuyigbe pointed out. “For a lot of people it is a hook that we’re guys watching Gilmore Girls, but for us it’s just that Gilmore Girls is a good show and we want to talk about it.”

Thinking about Gilmore Guys in a feminist context can be a little tricky. Some Gilmore Girls fans have expressed concerns about the popularity a male-hosted podcast dedicated to the series has been getting, as it begs this question: Would they be getting so much attention if they were women? Sadly, probably not. The guys don’t take this lightly; talking about feminist issues is integral to the podcast, as they are dissecting such a female-driven show. But the onus isn’t on them to be voices of feminism, nor do they want it to be. Rather, they’re using the platform to illuminate voices that should be heard.

“We’re not trying to ‘mansplain’ Gilmore Girls to anyone,” Adejuyigbe assured us. “We do our best not to co-opt the fandom. I understand people’s concerns about it, and I think the biggest thing I’ve learned is sometimes you just have to listen to the voices of the marginalized and magnify those voices rather than try and co-opt them through reiterating what they’ve said. I want us to magnify the opinions of the feminists we’ve heard from and assuage their concerns without being belittling.”

It helps that the guys themselves are such big fans of the show specifically for its female characters. “Our two favorite characters are women, and the best writer on the show is a woman,” Porter said. “Gilmore Girls is not a valid show because we say so, it’s just a valid show and we want to say so. If that makes more guys like it, is that bad?” The idea that men might only watch a show like Gilmore Girls after hearing about it from other men is disheartening, but Porter’s not wrong. Regardless of gender, feminists have the same end goals. We all want to live in a world where anyone can love and respect and want to analyze female-driven entertainment.

Gilmore Guys is, first and foremost, a comedy podcast, and the Gilmore Girls fan reaction is at times overwhelming. Adejuyigbe noted that it’s become almost intimidating as they’ve gotten more listeners: “There are so many fans of our show that have encyclopedic knowledge of Gilmore Girls, and I feel like I’m still comparatively such a casual fan of it.” His favorite moments of the podcast are the purposely reductive comedy bits they get to perform. “People ask what my predictions of the show would be and then I get to do dumb improvised bits of what a cliché version of the show would be…we of course pay attention to people’s concerns, but doing jokes is the most fun part of it for us.”

The jokes are earned, too, and listeners shouldn’t think they don’t take Gilmore Girls or the feminist issues it brings up seriously. Porter stated, “I think people don’t hate us because of the sincerity and earnestness with which we approach the show; we’re not just like, ‘Ugh, women, right?’ I think that earns us moments to be super goofy or point out the show’s missteps. Like if you have a best friend, you’re probably going to be sarcastic and make fun of them a bunch, you know? It’s just a part of affection.”

The Guys stake no claim in being responsible for resurrecting the already quite active Gilmore Girls fandom. As Porter pointed out, the success of the podcast has been greatly a matter of timing. “What with the show coming out on Netflix and other news items about it, interest in would have been at an all-time high anyway, regardless of whether our show existed or not. We’re kind of riding the coattails of the show’s success.”

So what has watching Gilmore Girls and doing the podcast meant for the Guys themselves? “I’m glad this podcast has forced me to watch this show that I never would have watched otherwise,” Adejuyigbe said. “I also really love getting the guests we’ve had, getting them in a space where we can be funny and earnest at the same time and getting to connect. I love watching a show that is so out of this time and seeing what it’s like in today’s context.”

Porter was certain to mention the impact it’s had on the way he views entertainment. “Someone at one of the live shows asked, has doing this changed the way you view women in media? The answer is one hundred percent yes. It wasn’t something I thought about when I watched Gilmore Girls as a teenager, but now it’s really given me intolerance for movies and TV shows that don’t have good female characters.”

The podcast isn’t a political statement, but maybe Porter and Adejuyigbe’s popularity is a beacon of hope, hinting towards a collective rejection of the idea that it’s only women who want to see more entertainment featuring women. Gilmore Guys is proof that men can be hilarious and simultaneously sincere and feminist and that it doesn’t have to be A Whole Thing. It’s sad that a show like this, wherein straight dudes talk about something under the umbrella of “women’s entertainment”—whatever that means—just because they want to, feels so special.

But maybe the mere fact of the podcast’s existence means there will continue to be more things like it. Maybe men will keep talking enthusiastically about “feminine” shows to the point where, eventually, we won’t feel the need to divide pop culture into gendered categories, consciously or otherwise. That’s certainly a world Gilmore Girls fans would want to live in.

Follow the Guys on Twitter @GilmoreGuysShow



5 Things We Learned From The Gilmore Girls Reunion

The Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge

Hot Mamas! The 7 Most Stylish Moms In TV History

You may also like

Get the print magazine.

The best of BUST in your inbox!

Subscribe to Our Weekly Newsletter

About Us

Founded in 1993, BUST is the inclusive feminist lifestyle trailblazer offering a unique mix of humor, female-focused entertainment, uncensored personal stories, and candid reporting that tells the truth about women’s lives.

©2023 Street Media LLC.  All Right Reserved.