DiscoverMaterial GirlsGilmore Girls x Normporn with Karen Tongson
Gilmore Girls x Normporn with Karen Tongson

Gilmore Girls x Normporn with Karen Tongson

Update: 2024-03-05


For this episode, we're joined by the incredible Karen Tongson, Professor of Gender & Sexuality Studies, English, and American Studies & Ethnicity at the University of Southern California. She is the author of Why Karen Carpenter Matters and Relocations: Queer Suburban Imaginaries. Her newest book, normporn: Queer Viewers and the TV That Soothes Us provides theory for this episode about the beloved TV show, Gilmore Girls.

We begin with a discussion of the early 2000s postfeminist Bush era that defined the early days of Gilmore Girls. Karen then offers some insight into the viewing practices of queer adults who have returned to this show en masse over the last two and a half decades since its pilot aired. We talk about the appeal of the Gilmore girls themselves, the tragedy of Lane Kim's journey into adulthood, the conservative reproductive politics that shape the show and the phenomenon of queer viewers finding both a pleasure and a shame in consuming sentimental content that showcases a fantasy of assimilation and acceptance.

normporn: Queer Viewers and the TV That Soothes Us (NYU Press) was released in November 2023 and is available now! You can find more of Karen on her two podcasts, Waiting to X-Hale and The Gaymazing Race, and on Instagram@tongsonator.

We'll be back in two weeks for another episode, but until then, be sure to check out all the bonus content we have on our Patreon at You can learn more about the show at and on our instagram at! Want more from us? Check out our website


Material Girls is a show that aims to make sense of the zeitgeist through materialist critique* and critical theory! Each episode looks at a unique object of study (something popular now or from back in the day) and over the course of three distinct segments, Hannah and Marcelle apply their academic expertise to the topic at hand.

*Materialist Critique is, at its simplest possible level, a form of cultural critique – that is, scholarly engagement with a cultural text of some kind – that is interested in modes of production, moments of reception, and the historical and ideological contexts for both. Materialist critique is really interested in the question of why a particular cultural work or practice emerged at a particular moment.

Music Credits:

“Shopping Mall”: by Jay Arner and Jessica Delisle ©2020

Used by permission. All rights reserved. As recorded by Auto Syndicate on the album “Bongo Dance”.

Hosted on Acast. See for more information.









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Gilmore Girls x Normporn with Karen Tongson

Gilmore Girls x Normporn with Karen Tongson