Fall in Full Effect: Why We’re So Obsessed With This New Season

Fall in Full Effect: Why We’re So Obsessed With This New Season

Photo Credit: Ali Akberali, Photographer

An ode to Gilmore Girls, pumpkin spice lattes, and Taylor Swift

Alessia Baptista, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

If you’ve been outside recently, you’ve definitely felt a shift in the seasons: the air in the morning is a little extra crisp, the leaves are starting to change colours, and the sun sets earlier in the day. Starbucks has launched its seasonal beverage menu, Halloween movies are recommended on all of our favourite streaming platforms, and Christian girl autumn memes have resurfaced on social media. All these signs point to one thing: fall is officially in full effect, and I couldn’t be happier.

In my opinion, fall is the best season. And, if it isn’t the best season, it surely is my favourite. I love that it’s not too hot and it’s not too cold outside; I love fall fashion; and I love how autumn is warm and cosy, and never fails to offer us these feelings.

Every year, I love to watch the leaves change colours and watch the trees fade from green to warm shades of orange, red, and yellow. Particularly in the city, I adore strolling (but really sprinting) through Queen’s Park on my way to class and admiring the pops of colour in the middle of the concrete jungle that is Toronto. Some of my other preferred fall-pastimes include going apple picking, taking photos of the leaves changing, carving pumpkins, and drinking hot coffee again. Yes, I’m one of those people that doesn’t typically do iced drinks in the colder months. 

I’ll be the first to admit that I am a fall enthusiast. I completely fall (pun intended) into the consumerism of the season and buy into everything autumn-related. I own all the typical fall fashion pieces like cute sweaters and trenchcoats, and I watch the Disney Channel Original movies like Halloweentown a hundred times, but while I claim to be fall-obsessed, there are a few things I’ve never tried before. I decided to call myself out and give in to these trends, not only for the sake of this article, but so I could be a true autumn lover and immerse myself into the season (and so I could see if these quintessential fall activities are worth investing time, money, and energy into). 

I tried a Pumpkin Spice Latte (and it didn’t go as planned)

The first thing I had to do is something I’ve been procrastinating forever. I tried my first pumpkin spice latte (PSL) for the sake of this article, and quite honestly, I don’t really understand the hype. It wasn’t that good, and the drink is so ridiculously expensive that it isn’t worth the hype or the money in my opinion. Add this to the fact that I’m also a bitter-coffee gal and you have another reason why I won’t be obsessing over the infamous pumpkin spice latte, or any seasonal beverage for that matter.

In an article by the Canadian University Press entitled “Pumpkin Spice Latte: Marking the Season with Brands” author Sonja Bookman notes that the pumpkin spice latte is a “trend of seasonal branding.” Bookman continues: “Starbucks, for instance, did not invent pumpkin-themed autumnal traditions, but it did adapt the pumpkin spice flavour associated with pumpkin pie to a portable luxury coffee drink – which bolsters its image as a purveyor of fine coffees and creates a source of community around which individuals can partake in seasonal festivities and create a common experience of fall. For many Starbucks consumers, the Thanksgiving–Halloween holiday now includes consuming a pumpkin spice latte in addition to the more established attributes of carving a pumpkin, eating pumpkin pie, and going trick-or-treating.” I finally understand that it’s the act of associating a pumpkin spice latte with other fall traditions, like eating a pumpkin pie or celebrating Thanksgiving, that makes it worthwhile. It’s a strategic marketing tactic that makes people feel warm, not just because of the hot beverage but because it’s linked to warm memories. Also, if enjoyed with family or friends, as typically done during the fall holidays, the act itself unites these people and helps them share a special moment. Bookman also notes the importance of connections that are created by coffee, which means Starbucks is doing its job.  

All in all, me disliking the pumpkin spice latte doesn’t mean I hate fall, or am against what it stands for: it just means I’m not a fan of this particular fall trend. This being said, Starbucks is certainly getting their money’s worth for all the people who love this drink. If this is what keeps you going during autumn, then I say it’s a good fall tradition! Whatever gets you into the fall spirit, even if it’s a $7 drink, is worth your happiness. 

I started listening to Taylor Swift (and I love sad girl autumn) 

I’ll be the first to tell you that listening to Taylor Swift is the last thing I thought I’d catch myself doing for the sake of an article. If you read the Orientation Issue of The Mike this year, you’d remember the article about a “playlist Taylor-ed to your experience.”  This is not the first time a contributor has mentioned the beloved T-Swift in an Arts section article, and I’ll bet it won’t be the last. I’m not sure if it was the incredible pun in the byline or the fact that Taylor Swift’s music is another symbol of the season, but I’m thankful for whatever force drove me to start listening to “Red (Taylor’s Version).” The album is so freaking good. Like, her vocals and her lyrics? Insanely good. “State of Grace (Taylor’s Version)” makes me feel like I’m in the opening credits of an episode of Gilmore Girls, and “All Too Well (Taylor’s Version)” makes me miss an ex-lover I’m not even sure exists. If you know me, you’d know that if I’m listening to music, it’s guaranteed to be a song by 5 Seconds of Summer. But lately (especially as I write this article) I’ve been dabbling into a little Taylor Swift. I think it’s something about the acoustic guitar, the softness of her voice, and the frequent mention of scarves that radiate autumn energy. It also helps that one of the lyrics in “All Too Well (Taylor’s Version)” is “autumn leaves falling down like pieces into place.” She definitely makes sad girl autumn a lot more enjoyable! I may not be a die-hard Swiftie now, but I definitely have more of an appreciation for T-Swift than I did before. 

I realized why I get compared to Rory Gilmore

Finally, I started watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix. This is one of those things I’d been procrastinating for quite some time – even longer than trying a pumpkin spice latte. After months of hearing people tell me I remind them of Rory Gilmore, I’m still not sure whether to take that as a compliment or an insult. Nonetheless, I’ve seen one too many TikToks about people rewatching Gilmore Girls as they do every season, so naturally, I succumbed to the influence of social media and started watching the show. Let’s just say, I’m liking it more than I thought I would, and I now understand why Gilmore Girls is an autumn comfort show. If you’ve never seen the show, it takes place in a quaint little town called Stars Hollow, which in itself is already magical and in my opinion, reminiscent of Halloween. Season one takes place during the fall, meaning it’s back-to-school season. The leaves are changing, and of course, the cute fall outfits are making an appearance again. 

Photo Credit: Pinterest

The back-to-school theme is a key point in the series, and is a major sign that fall is upon us. Rory Gilmore – one of the Gilmore girls, in case you couldn’t guess – is completely obsessed with studying, getting good grades, and eventually, achieving her dreams of going to Harvard. Rory’s devotion to her studies makes me want to be a better student and start this semester off strong. As cliché as it sounds, her character’s drive ignites a similar fire in me to start the fall season with my best foot forward, so that I can continue to work hard and achieve my goals. Keep in mind, I’m only on season one, so I can’t wait to keep watching to see if Dean and Rory end up together and if she makes it to Harvard.

The aforementioned theme in Gilmore Girls exemplifies what Joni Sweet calls the “Fresh Start Effect.” This classifies the fall season as a time where we’re able to start a new phase of the year and put any past experiences behind us. Ronit Levy, PsyD also notes, “As young kids, we learned that the fall is filled with new people, places, and opportunities. It’s when we got all of our new school supplies and were excited to dive into new activities. That association stays with us into adulthood.” The fond memories of fall we experience during childhood also contribute to the excitement the new season brings. We’re more motivated to start something new and improve our habits to achieve our goals.

Just as the Western world often glorifies the changing of seasons through commercialising fall (hence why PSLs and shows like Gilmore Girls exist), it also glorifies “hustle culture.” Forbes deems hustle culture “toxic” as it “promotes busyness” and competition for those who can be the “most overwhelmed.” Maybe this is why we’re so obsessed with fall: it’s a fresh start for us to get that promotion, work harder, and be better people as a result. I think this is a very under-the-surface analysis as to why we adore autumn, but it’s not a reason I’m ready to rule out. 

Aside from my newfound obsession with the show, autumn marks the beginning of so many beloved traditions that lead to heartwarming moments. October alone has Thanksgiving, followed by Halloween. After Halloween comes reading week (at least it does if you’re a U of T student) and before you know it, the winter holidays are in full swing the minute it starts snowing. These are times that bring us closer together and remind us to be thankful for the special people in our lives. Similar to the fascination with pumpkin spice lattes, any warm beverage is guaranteed to warm us up on a cold day. After classes, Rory and her mom, Lorelai, sit at a café together and drink endless cups of coffee, which just exudes autumn energy to me. Bonding over a cup of coffee after a long day of being separated from one another also reinforces the importance of creating connections that cafés often encourage. This routine helps bring Rory and Lorelai closer together, and it continues to hold up to its reputation as an autumn comfort show. 

Overall, whether you adore fall because it offers a fresh start, your favourite warm beverage has returned, or you love admiring the beautiful change of scenery, I hope the joys of this season fuel your soul. You could even take a page out of my book and try something you’ve never done before! However you spend the fall season (and the very limited time we have until it starts snowing) I hope you soak in every moment and crunch every leaf beneath your feet. 

Happy autumn!