“How old is Kirk?” Paris Geller asks, when she visits Stars Hollow and meets the town’s quirkiest denizen. Rory Gilmore shrugs in reply. “You’d have to cut him open and count the rings.”
It really is hard to tell. The defining feature of Kirk—other than the fact that he has had so, so many jobs—is that he does not, strictly, have an age at all. At least, not in any of the meaningful ways that most people have, and indeed are, ages. When was Kirk born? Who were his cohorts in school? Does he identify with Generation X, or My So-Called Life, or Reality Bites? Does he know about Oregon Trail? Does he, when his birthday comes around, simply celebrate? Or does the day, rather, plague him with the vague but nagging feeling that he hasn’t achieved all the things he’d thought he would have by now, when he was younger?
Once again, it is unclear. Gilmore Girls is, for the most part, an airy fantasy of a TV show: From the gazebo in Stars Hollow’s central square to the witty banter of the town’s residents to the number of calories that Lorelai and Rory Gilmore are able to consume seemingly sans aesthetic consequence, the whole series sparkles, over its seven primary seasons, with a certain sheen of magic. About some things, though, Gilmore Girls is quite serious, and one of them is the thing Kirk so obviously lacks: age. Which is, in the show’s conception, not just a thing someone can be, but also a force that can be by turns acquiesced to and denied. Gilmore Girls, for a show about the friendship between a mother and her daughter, might be a nicely alliterative title; it is also, however, a philosophy revealed.