As the blazing summer temps start to cool down and the colors of the leaves change, Gilmore Girls fans are gearing up for another rewatch of the beloved series just in time for fall. Dedicated viewers know that straight-A student Rory’s dream was to attend Harvard University, but in the show’s third season, it came as a total shock when she opted for rival school Yale instead. Especially because Miss Rory had been putting in the work to join the ranks at Harvard!
Since the college episodes first aired, several rumors and theories began buzzing. The main theory, though, was that Rory ended up at Yale because the Ivy League campuses had different filming regulations. In 2002, the show’s creator Amy Sherman-Palladino told Deseret News that Yale would “let us film there, which makes it a lot easier.”
Fast forward 20-ish years, where TikTok exists and former Gilmore Girls costumer Valerie Campbell has an active (!!) account. In response to a comment that read, “I thought it was because Yale agreed to let them film there and Harvard did not,” Valerie took no time in setting the record straight because she revealed Gilmore Girls wasn’t really filmed at Harvard or Yale after all:
“What they did not take into consideration was we didn’t shoot at Harvard, but we also didn’t shoot at Yale,” she explained. “That is not the reason why we didn’t shoot at Harvard. If we wanted to build Harvard on a stage, we would have.”
In case you were wondering, the math is definitely mathing. According to Yale Alumni Magazine, most of the Harvard scenes were actually filmed at UCLA in Los Angeles, while Rory’s first visit to Yale was filmed at Pomona College in Claremont.
“Rory’s crucial visit was actually filmed at Pomona College, and despite the crew’s best efforts to avoid shots with palm trees, the classic Southern California architecture looked absurdly unlike New England,” the Yale Alumni Magazine report reads. “But with Rory slated to be a full-time student, it made fiscal sense to build a more authentic slice of Yale.”
In her TikTok, Valerie said she didn’t remember any conversations about not being able to film at Harvard or Yale, but she reached out to one of the show’s writers last year for more clarity. (Val is really doing the Lord’s work here, people!)
The writer didn’t recall why Rory switched to Yale but “didn’t think” it had anything to do with Harvard’s filming restrictions. Valerie went on to explain how the final decision was possibly made:
“My guess is that we thought it made for an interesting story,” Valerie dished. “Rory and Lorelai had this plan for years, and then just when it’s about to become a reality, Rory essentially chooses Richard and Emily’s side by picking Yale.”
The more you know! Now, I can’t help but wonder what the alternate universe containing Rory’s Harvard era looks like. 👀
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