Gilmore Girls is the best show ever made. No other TV show will ever live up to its standards. The other day, after watching the Pilot for the 500th time (Rory is so sweet in the first season!), and reading several essays from “Coffee at Luke’s: An Unauthorized Gilmore Girls Gabfest” I sat down and wrote down my thoughts on the show, ranging from why I love it to an analysis/discussion of the characters and themes on the show. (Warning: SPOILERS)
Of course I love the fast talk and witty banter, but I also recently realized that Gilmore Girls (GG) is one of the real feminist shows out there, for the simple reason that it reverses the entire gender formula. In most TV shows and movies, women are just accessories to men, and exist only to serve these men or obsess over them. But in GG, Rory and Lorelai are fully formed independent women, and the men in the show exist only to support them and, let’s be real, obsess over them. Think about all the men on the show who serve as romantic interests to Rory or Lorelai – Luke, Jess, Logan, Christopher, Dean, and Jason. In short, every important male character on the show except for Richard. They all have something in common. They are all extremely jealous and overcome by their infatuation with a Gilmore girl, but more importantly, none of them ever really finds happiness with them. Yes, Luke and Lorelai end up together in the end (as we had all hoped and expected), but this was the third time they were getting together. Before this, their relationship pretty much crashed and burned.
No man can ever keep hold of a Gilmore girl because Rory and Lorelai don’t need men. They may want relationships, but that’s an entirely different matter. They are too independent, and move forward too quickly for anyone else to keep up with them.
The other problem – and this is especially true for Lorelai, is that one life isn’t enough. Lorelai always insists on keeping her Stars Hollow life separate from the life she grew up with. Yet the reality of it is that she constantly has one foot in both places. This is, I think, the root of her boy problems.
For the majority of the show, Lorelai dates outsiders because she clings to her parents’ life – as much as she despised it, there is a large part of her that fits in very well with that society, even if she cannot admit it to herself. And so nearly every man she dates (Max, Christopher, Jason) is discarded at some point, because none of them can fit in where she needs them to: Stars Hollow.
And then along comes Luke, who’s really been there all along, and while it seems perfect on paper, the reality is that for a long time, they can’t make it work. There are different issues that crop up – Lorelai’s parents, Christopher, April – but the real problem is that Lorelai is suddenly tied down. When she is dating Luke, Stars Hollow becomes her only life. But she has always wanted more, just like her daughter. At least Rory’s ambitions are tangible, though, in the form of her time at Yale and future career as a journalist. Lorelai’s yearning, though, can’t be given a name, because she herself doesn’t know what she wants. She knows what she doesn’t want, though, and that is being stuck in Stars Hollow indefinitely.
Because Stars Hollow, with all its charm, is frozen in time and space. It doesn’t offer much chance for growth in any way. Even the characters we love, like Miss Patty, Kirk, Sookie, and Jackson, do not change over the seven seasons. Sookie didn’t even date
much at all before deciding to settle down with her produce guy, whom she sees every day. The only character who grows (besides Rory and Lorelai) is Jess, who was never truly a part of the town anyways. There are other characters who show growth, such as Paris, and Emily, but they are not residents of Stars Hollow, so they are allowed to change and grow with time.
Lorelai cannot bear to be stifled in the way all other Stars Hollow residents have been, and so time and again we see her returning to her parents’ elite life in one way or another. And because she could never choose just one life, it is her indecision between the two that defines her.
This is evident in the way she raises Rory, too. She wants to protect Rory from the rich elitist life, but at the same time, she wants to give Rory all the opportunities she never had. And by constantly trying to give Rory “freedom” she is, in a way, smothering her, just like her parents did to her. And though it takes a long time for Rory to rebel, she eventually does. One of her first acts of rebellion is taking part in a cotillion. Though she does this mainly to please her grandmother, it is the first step in a series of small defiances that lead to a larger one. She continues to work towards the life her mother shunned: picking Yale over Harvard, dating rich boy Logan, and finally, joining the DAR and moving in with her grandparents when things finally come to a head with the separation.
Rory at this point in time is not the Rory we know. She stole a boat, for God’s sake. So why is she acting like this? It’s easy to blame it on Logan (very easy for me, since he is my least favorite of Rory’s boyfriends – look at the way he treats her!), but there’s more to it. When Logan’s dad, a.k.a. Mr. Jerkface, tells her that she doesn’t have it in her to be a journalist, she has a meltdown. Why now? Jess questioned it once before, and though Rory expressed some concern in the moment, it didn’t shake her confidence. But Rory is now finally at a point in her life when she has to decide for herself what she wants to do. All her life, Lorelai has led her by the hand, but it’s been a few years now since she started rebelling against her mother’s ways, and she is just starting to see how these acts of defiance have shaped her life. So when she is faced with criticism, she can’t handle it. Because if she can’t be a journalist, which she associates with everything familiar (Lorelai’s lifestyle), then the obvious choice is to turn towards her grandmother’s lifestyle – right? The problem is that she never takes the time to stop and think; like her mother, she just keeps going. It takes Jess asking her what the hell happened for her to finally turn her life around again.
Once her life is back on track, though, there’s no turning back. This Rory is a far cry from the Rory we knew in Season 1, who was always so wrapped up in some book, that she was too occupied to notice real life happening around her. Rory does eventually get pulled out of her world of books, but for a while, it is how she experiences life. And her relationship with books is a bit like her relationship with Stars Hollow. She begins to realize that as much as she loves reading/Stars Hollow, she cannot allow it to pull her away from her ambitions. Even so, at the end of the day, she always has her town and her books to turn to when she needs to go back home.
This has been a long, incoherent, love letter (of sorts) to Gilmore Girls.