photo: Warner Bros.

Where “Gilmore Girls” leads, its devoted fanbase will follow — unless we’re being led to racist depictions of characters. 

As a quintessentially feel-good show from an earlier era of television, “Gilmore Girls” managed to escape a lot of the criticism some of its characters would undoubtedly draw today. Don't get us wrong — we realize "Gilmore" was the product of a different time, and love it nonetheless — but Stars Hollow, Connecticut, isn't exactly noted for its diversity. Not only is it notably devoid of people of color (with the exception of Michel and a few nameless extras), for instance, but one of its main non-white characters, Mrs. Kim, has come under fire for being an Asian caricature. That doesn’t exactly do much to improve the show’s inclusivity track record.

While at the Gilmore Girls Fan Fest in Connecticut this weekend, Revelist had the opportunity to chat with Keiko Agena (“Lane Kim") about her "mixed" take on the show's depiction of Korean-American culture — and what that means for the future of Stars Hollow.

"I have mixed feelings," Agena told Revelist. "On the one hand, I think Stars Hollow, Connecticut, having Michel, and the Kim family, and Ms. Torres ("Miss Patty"), is a little bit interesting for that time period."

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"I think that there was some diversity compared to other shows, so I did like that," Agena added. 

It's true that, as a product of its early-aughts times, "Gilmore" could've fared worse in the representation department. Still, every single one of the characters Agena cited above does feel like a one-dimensional caricature, in a way. All quirkiness and small-town humor aside, I'm not sure the same could be said of many of Stars Hollow's white residents, who, while still quirky, feel a bit less like one-sided stereotypes.

Where Mrs. Kim is concerned, Agena agreed the character is an "extreme version" of a first generation Korean-American, but still believes she served a purpose.

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"I know that (Mrs. Kim) is an extreme version, but a lot of the seeds for that story were based off Helen Pai’s actual life," Agena pointed out. "She actually is a Seventh-day Adventist, and her mom is a Seventh-day Adventist. So I think that, like with all comedy, it’s taking it with a grain of salt."

The longtime best friend of "Gilmore Girls" creator Amy Sherman-Palladino and a co-producer on the show, Pai's involvement does lend Mrs. Kim's characterization an element of purpose. Surely she wouldn't have signed on to her pal's project if she felt her family and culture were being persecuted.

And as far as the future of diversity in Stars Hollow goes, Agena said ...

photo: Netflix

"... If you were to make 'Gilmore Girls' in 2016 — which we sorta did? — but if you were to make a new show like that, perhaps it would be different," she said.

Agena's diplomatic answer doesn't reveal too much about the revival, which cast members were forbidden from speaking about at the fan festival. But Netflix did make a point to show Lane, Mrs. Kim, and Rory seemingly manning a Korean booth at a Stars Hollow festival in one of the handful of new photos they recently released (plus, a photo of a Town Hall meeting with more than one Black attendee!). 

Could this mean the town — and the show's creators — have now embraced Korean culture as more than a punchline? We'll have to wait until the November 25th premiere to find out.