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Gilmore Girls walking through Fall Festival
Gilmore Girls walking through Fall Festival
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Culture > Entertainment

6 Shows to Watch Instead of Gilmore Girls This Autumn

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Exeter chapter.

I love my annual Gilmore Girls rewatch as much as the next girl, but sometimes I’m in need of a change. If you yearn for small town charm and an endless roster of attractive love interests, grab your chunkiest sweater and a hot cup of coffee to wind down for these perfect TV shows. Here’s what I, a self-proclaimed TV expert and annoying person, recommend you watch this year:

1. Pretty Little Liars

If you enjoy small town drama, you have to watch Pretty Little Liars.


In a small town in Pennsylvania, 4 friends start being stalked by a mysterious figure named “A” after their former best friend Alison goes missing. As they attempt to uncover the mastermind who knows their darkest secrets, every part of their lives will change.

With seven seasons and 45 minute episodes, Pretty Little Liars is unlike any show that is currently streaming. It is best matched with hours long binge sessions to combat each episode’s cliffhanger. The show is funny, dramatic, at times a little campy, and an amazing relic of the horrible fashion of the early 2010s (why did they all wear business casual and heels to school?). Coincidentally filmed on the same Warner Bros lot as Gilmore Girls, any die-hard fan will enjoy finding familiar houses and building facades. Stars Hallow’s New England small town charm is replicated in Rosewood with just as many autumnal trees and picket fence lined streets, leaving you wondering how the hell they manage to walk everywhere, no matter where they’re going.

Although the later seasons struggle with plot continuity and, admittedly, quality, it still manages to rope viewers in with its never ending twists. Starring Troian Bellisario, Ashley Benson, Lucy Hale, and Shay Mitchell, Pretty Little Liars has a well rounded cast with great chemistry and just about every relationship trope you could ask for, barring the amount of inappropriate age gap couples.

My favorite episodes are “The Perfect Storm”, “This is a Dark Ride”, and the season 5 finale “Welcome to the Dollhouse.”

For those who’ve finished the series in its entirety, you can move on to the spin offs – Ravenswood, Pretty Little Liars: the Perfectionists, and Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin. With familiar faces like Bailee Madison, I much preferred the latter and its horror take on “A” (because how could you be casual about a rampant stalker?). I also highly recommend you pick up the original books to spot the difference between the show.

If you haven’t yet added Pretty Little Liars to your watchlist, you are truly missing out on its magnificence.

2. Never Have I Ever

If you like flawed teen girl characters, then Never Have I Ever is for you!


Like our beloved Rory Gilmore, Devi Vishwakumar is academically inclined and socially declined. As narrated by tennis player John McEnroe, Devi processes her grief after her father’s sudden death and attempts to balance her friends, family, and school life while dealing with the trials and tribulations of being an awkward teenage girl.

Never Have I Ever, while not distinctly autumnal in tone, does an amazing job of portraying how sucky it can be to be a teen girl. Devi – Maitreyi Ramakrishnan’s first role reminds me of Rory as she is constantly making the worst decisions to witness as a viewer, yet you can’t help but root for her. Devi is a menace; she does exactly the opposite of what you’re screaming at her through your screen to do, but she’s unapologetic, emotional, and actually funny. The show is hailed for its South Asian representation as Devi navigates growing up in a Tamil household and being an American high school student and does so delicately with the right amount of charm. While Devi is often at odds with her mom Nalini – played by Poorna Jagannathan – their relationship is so rewarding by the end of the series. Never Have I Ever also tackles things like mental health, female friendships, and queer identities without feeling too pre-packaged to be easily consumed by a wide audience. Like other Mindy Kaling shows, it can feel a bit like a love letter to BJ Novak (see also: The Sex Lives of College Girls), but the tumultuous relationships Devi experiences feel refreshing and embarrassing like all high school ones do. While I am strong proponent of Devi and Ben’s relationship over the course of the show, his Jewish representation leaves much to be desired. He’s a stereotypical rich and stuck up guy, but I think he has a complex side to him that gets brought to light during the Ben-focused episodes that are narrated by Andy Samberg.

Overall, this show is real – each character is incredibly flawed and that’s what makes it so watchable. With ten episodes per each of its four seasons, Never Have I Ever is a rare TV show to end on its own terms. The final season is an ode to the viewers – it wraps up each plotline in a timely manner and each character ends up where they truly belong. This is increasingly uncommon for TV shows, especially in Netflix originals, to get more than one season before their abrupt cancellation, leaving viewers traumatized and never wanting to get attached to another show again (I’m looking at you, The Society).

My favorite episodes are “…started a nuclear war,” “… had an Indian frenemy,” and “… set my mom up.”

Never Have I Ever is a worthwhile watch, ending like a perfect present with a bow on top.

3. Freaks and Geeks

If you’re an avid Team Jess member and want more burnout teens, you should watch Freaks and Geeks.


This show follows the life of mathlete Lindsay Weir as she joins the group of “freaks” at her high school, while her younger brother Sam and “geeky” friends navigate their freshman year. Freaks and Geeks has the perfect 80s grunge energy matched with Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation” and Lindsay’s classic army green jacket.

Although it was cancelled before its time with just one season, this show is perfect if you’re looking for a quick watch this autumn. Unbearably cringey at times, Freaks and Geeks is like a train wreck you can’t pull your eyes away from. Each episode is chalked full of embarrassing yet hilarious moments that make you fall in love with each character more and more as the show progresses. I don’t think I will ever get over Jason Segel’s character, Nick, and how he falls head over heels for Lindsay, played Linda Cardellini (not to mention the real life relationship they had after the show that inspired his movie Forgetting Sarah Marshall). If you love tortured yet sweet rebellious boys – like Jess Mariano – as much as I do, I promise you’ll be falling in love with Jason Segel by the end of the show.

My favorite episodes are “Tricks and Treats” (which is perfect for this October), “Kim Kelly is my Friend,” and “Carded and Discarded.”

Freaks and Geeks strays a little from the New England charm of Gilmore Girls with its suburban Michigan setting, but it makes up for it with its off-beat humor and lovable characters.

4. The O.C.

If you wish Dave Rygalski had a longer story arc, then you have to watch The O.C..


The reason why Adam Brody left season 3 of Gilmore Girls, The O.C. is another classic teen drama of the early aughts, along with the likes of Gilmore Girls, One Tree Hill, and Gossip Girl. The show follows delinquent teen Ryan Atwood, played by Ben McKenzie, as he’s adopted into the wealthy Cohen family in Newport Beach, California. Ryan and his newfound brother Seth learn how to navigate their dynamics at home, in school, and in the privileged life of Orange County.

Seth Cohen, played by Adam Brody, is a socially awkward outcast, much like his character on Gilmore Girls. His and Ryan’s relationship is endearing and reminiscent of the quick-witted humor we love the Gilmore girls for. Throughout the show, Ryan falls in love with the Cohen’s neighbor, Marissa, and their relationship withstands (almost) all curveballs thrown their way. Simultaneously, Seth pines for and wins over her best friend Summer. Despite their introductions as love interests, both girls develop into complex characters with their own independent stories. The O.C. is a very character driven show which can even be seen by the end of the first season. Peter Gallagher and Kelly Rowan star as the heads of the Cohen household in their own right, with part of the show focusing on the drama that occurs between the parents of the Newport Beach. Their sophomore season experienced an obvious boost in overall quality (and budget). With new hangout places for the main cast, The O.C. features iconic rock bands like The Killers, Modest Mouse, and Death Cab for Cutie. With parental problems, teen relationship drama, good music, and some iconic y2k fashion inspiration, there’s something in The O.C. for everyone.

My favorite episodes are “The Best Chrismukkah Ever,” “The Rainy Day Women,” and devastating season 3 finale “The Graduates.”

If you remember the Gilmore Girls season 3 episode and backdoor pilot (“Here Comes the Son”) when Jess goes to visit his mom in California, just close your eyes and imagine The O.C. is the spin-off we never got.

5. Veronica Mars

If you wish Gilmore Girls and Criminal Minds had a love child, then Veronica Mars is an orphaned baby waiting on your doorstep.

After being ousted from her popular high school friend group after the murder of her best friend, the titular character Veronica Mars throws herself into helping her father’s private investigation business and starting her own at school. Veronica and her former sheriff father, Keith, deal with their fall from grace by sticking their noses into powerful people’s business.

Veronica Mars has a more formulaic episode style, feeling a bit more like the crime shows of this era as Veronica solves her weekly A plots while working through each season’s B-plots, but the show’s overall darker tone is perfect for a gloomy autumn day. It is truly one of the most underrated shows of the early 2000s. Despite its short-lived run, Veronica Mars has a dedicated fan base for a reason: this show really has it all. While you can’t escape a teen show without the inevitable romance, it ends up feeling less like a love triangle and more like two people who are destined to be together and some annoying guy who can’t take a hint is there for the ride, too. But Veronica’s loyal, underdog friends are at the heart of the show, helping her uncover mysteries regardless of her social status. But no one is loyal to Veronica quite like her dad Keith. After being shunned from high society together, they choose each other every time. They have banter like the Gilmores, but they tend to have more tender moments after everything they’ve been through together. Kristen Bell really shines in this role, rocking a fuck ass bob and the lowest rise jeans known to man all while solving crimes better than anyone in the Sheriff’s department can.

As good as the first three seasons were, the 2019 Hulu reboot was honestly blasphemous. After devouring the first three seasons and craving more, the fourth season was the biggest let down I’ve probably ever subject myself to. If we ever needed a case for why reboots and revivals should never happen, this show is ground zero. Instead, the fan-funded feature film feels truer to the original series and doesn’t end in a massive disappointment. If you think I’m being dramatic, please watch all four seasons and get back to me once you’ve finished. Additionally, the show’s creator Rob Thomas originally pitched it as a novel before it got picked up for television production. But after the show’s cancellation, he finalized and published two novels that became part of the Veronica Mars canon. I honestly really enjoyed them and recommend them to anyone who wants to consume the series in its entirety.

My favorite episodes are “Weapons of Class Destruction,” “Mars vs. Mars,” and “Welcome Wagon.”

While it isn’t as happy-go-lucky as Gilmore Girls is, Veronica Mars will have you on the edge of your seat every episode, swearing you’ll just watch one more until you realize you’ve watched half a season in a day. It’s quippy and actually hilarious, keeping you invested in every mystery Veronica comes across.

6. The Midnight Club

If you want a spookier pick for October, then The Midnight Club is a must watch.

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The Midnight Club is a thriller following a group of terminally ill teens as they tell ghost stories from their hospice home and investigate the home’s eerie beginnings. After the show’s creator Mike Flanagan has adapted his shows from genre staples like Shirley Jackson and Henry James, he moves on to Christopher Pike’s novel and short stories this time around. Not surprisingly, Flanagan is able to seamlessly merge previous works with his own ideas for his signature style that I love so dearly.

Flanagan’s storytelling prowess is incredibly evident in this limited series. As the members of the Midnight Club tell each other stories every night, Flanagan transports you to their worlds flawlessly every time. Supported by the revolving cast of Flanagan regulars like Zach Gilford, Samantha Sloyan, Henry Thomas, and Rahul Kohli, The Midnight Club’s new main cast of characters make a name for themselves. I always enjoy how Flanagan focuses each episode on a new character, allowing more complex stories that gives you a better understanding of the group’s dynamic. The Midnight Club is not for the faint of heart however, as the first episode of the series broke the world record for most scripted jump scares, coming in at 21 in total. Flanagan’s production is incredible and upon my first viewing I was scared every time. But his horror never feels cheap; his well earned reputation in this genre helps build the constant suspense that keeps your eyes glued to your screen. Production took place in British Columbia, but the hospice home is supposed to be just outside of Seattle which gives the best dark, woodsy, vibes for autumn (and I’m from Seattle so I give it my stamp of approval). If you’re like me and saddened by Netflix’s cancellation of everything that is good in this world, I implore you to read Mike Flanagan’s tumblr page where he details what he would’ve done with the series, had they been picked up for a second season.

My favorite episodes are “Witch,” “Anya,” and “Road to Nowhere.”

If it’s not already evident how much I love Mike Flanagan and all his shows, I will say this: I never liked anything remotely scary or horror adjacent until I watched The Haunting of Hill House. His works truly changed my view of the genre and I have such an appreciation for it now. In my opinion, The Midnight Club is a good place to dip your toes into the “Flanaverse” due to its tendency to lean towards YA fiction, while still having that classic scary undertone.

“so it’s a show?”

its a lifestyle

Admittedly, there is no show that perfectly encapsulates autumn the way Gilmore Girls does. I can only hope that another show will make me feel the same way as I did when I watched season 3 for the first time. But there are some other really great TV show fish in the sea, and if you had to give them a try this is a perfect place to start.

Happy autumn and happy watching!

Jane Holt

Exeter '26

Hi I’m Jane:) I’m from Seattle but I’m studying Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Exeter! I love to be annoying about all things Taylor Swift or whatever TV show I’m fixating on at the moment.