I can’t recall the first time I ever saw The Princess Bride; it seems I was born knowing it, though of course that’s impossible since it began filming a couple of months before my second birthday. But once I became conscious of movies, this was the movie. The Man in Black was likely my first crush, and Cary Elwes was definitely one of the first celebrities whose name I knew.
Because of my devotion to the film, I was eager to read a book about it. I was also terrified. When a piece of pop culture affects you emotionally, it can be difficult to see it pulled apart. You don’t want to know that the actors all hated each other, that the director was awful, et cetera.
Well, Princess Bride fans: you’re in luck. As You Wish contains no drama, no tawdry details. If Mr. Elwes is to be trusted, there are none to recount. Perhaps this book is awash in the glow of Cary’s fond memory, but after reading his memoir I’d say that the only thing better than watching The Princess Bride would have been working on it. In fact, if there’s anything wrong with this book at all, it might be too reverent–but every time you think the picture is getting too rosy, there’s a blurb from one of the other actors, the director, or the producer confirming it. I suppose that’s another thing: it’s a bit repetitive at times, but not in an obnoxious way. But you can probably guess that with some things, I don’t mind repetition. After all, I’ve probably seen The Princess Bride at least a hundred times.
Another thing I’ve seen a hundred times? Gilmore Girls. Well, a hundred would be exaggerating: it hasn’t been around as long as The Princess Bride, for one thing, and there’s a lot more of it to get through. But somehow, I think Gilmore Girls is even more personal for me. Maybe it has to do with adolescence. When I discovered The Princess Bride, I was merely looking for entertainment. When I found the Gilmore Girls, I was looking for definition. And there was Rory Gilmore: my same age, plus a couple weeks (if you use the date given in the first season–they move her birthday later in October at some point in the show, and yes I’m a big enough nerd that I know this, and I would be annoyed at the writers for the inconsistency except it helps make more sense of Lorelai’s claim that Rory was born during a snow storm). She was a year behind me in school, but that didn’t matter–it almost made it better, because I was a grade ahead of this impossibly smart and well-read prodigy, and my grades were just as good. Granted, I wasn’t gorgeous and clear-skinned and totally up on news and pop culture. No tall, dreamy-eyed boys were fawning over me. But her very existence, even on a fictional plane, made me hope that someday they would be. Made me want to be sharper and more self possessed. Made me–
Well, that’s a little personal. I sometimes think to myself, The first rule of Gilmore Girls is you don’t talk about Gilmore Girls. Because hearing people criticize it, even parts I don’t personally approve of (cough, cough: season seven), makes me feel a little squirmy. Because I don’t want to believe it’s fiction. Because Amy Sherman-Palladino created an ideal that influenced me as a teenager and has followed me ever since, even as I stopped liking Rory and began to relate to her mother, even as I began to see Lorelai as a peer instead of a parent (how strange to me that I am now the age that Lorelai was when she first appeared onscreen at Luke’s Diner).
So, again, picking up Lauren Graham’s Talking As Fast As I Can was a little nerve-wracking, lest she say something to sully my romanticism. But it turns out that Lauren Graham is nearly as funny and fast as Lorelai herself, and as with As You Wish, she only has good things to say about her time playing the role for which she is best known. Her book covers more territory than Elwes’s, which only covers stories from The Princess Bride, so we get to know her as a young actress, a TV mom, another TV mom, and more. We get to hear her personal stories about love and work and how one can influence the other. We get to go with her on auditions, experience rejection, and work work work work work. And we get to know that she didn’t love season seven all that much either, though she’s too classy to outright disparage it. And we get to know that she cried all through the filming of Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, which makes me feel better about how much I cried while watching it.
Perhaps it’s wrong that TV and movies have influenced me so much. Perhaps it’s unhealthy. Perhaps it’s laughable or trite, and it makes you think less of me. There’s a lot I could say to defend myself or explain myself or disparage myself but I should probably shut up now because if there’s one thing I do have in common with a Gilmore, it’s that my babbling capabilities are infinite. Also: I like old movies and TV shows, and I like to talk over them, and quote along with them. To that end I’m going to go watch The Princess Bride with my husband and see how far he can make it before saying, “Can you please stop talking?” at which point I’ll say, “As you wish.”