La la la la la la la la la. Let the lovely la la’s from Gilmore Girls wash over you as you read this post, I think it will set the mood. My thought process this week was that I cannot think of something more crucial in terms of representations of young women. WB’s Gilmore Girls is still to this day, a classic hour long drama that is so popular it has almost been rebooted a number of times resulting in Netflix finally creating a new extension of the series that is currently being filmed!
Gilmore Girls follows the lives of Rory (Lorelai) Gilmore and her mother Lorelai Gilmore (yes she named her daughter after herself) in their little town in Connecticut, Stars Hollow. Rory starts the show in her sophomore year of high school and ends with her graduating university. The show from the very beginning deals with a plethora of social issues and things that young women have to deal with, along with things that the two women have to deal with together. Rory is a character who, the entire series, is not only allowed but is also rewarded for being intelligent. The first episode in fact is all about Lorelai asking her parents for money to help Rory get into a private school to help ensure that she gets into an Ivy League school. Throughout the entire series, Rory’s schooling and her thirst for knowledge is always championed. Additionally, the show also values hard work in other respects, as Lorelai worked hard as a teenage single mother to support Rory.
I think it is always so important to talk about Gilmore Girls because of how the way the show continued over its seven year run to stay captivating and relevant throughout. The show handles issues of virginity, cheating (Rory was the “other woman” and the show handles the consequences well), marriage, peer pressure, and familial pressures in great detail. Rory at one point even has an existential crisis and drops out of Yale for a semester and doesn’t talk to her mother the entire time (their reunion is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen on screen). Rory and her mother also maintain, minus a few hiccups, and extremely close bond that is heartwarming and encouraging in terms of how seeing mother and daughters on television.
The show follows them through rejection, heartache, death, and it presents the women, in all of their quick witted fast talking glory, as competent and engaging characters. The show is full of great snappy humour, and also emotionally trying drama. The relationship between the Gilmore girls (including Lorelai’s mother, and Rory’s grandmother, Emily Gilmore) is explored in great depths, as Emily has to witness the result of her mistakes with Lorelai and how much her relationship with Lorelai suffered. As a whole this show is not only spectacular in its writing, acting and production, but in much of the social work it’s doing, specifically in terms of women.
This wouldn’t be a post of mine if I didn’t critique it, however. Some of the things Gilmore Girls lacks however, is representations in other areas. The cast is overwhelmingly white, and many of the side characters who aren’t white are poked fun at or made into caricatures. For example, Rory’s best friend Lane, a lovely Korean girl, lives a pretty plane life in Stars Hollow who has sex once on her honeymoon and is punished by getting pregnant immediately. While of course, Rory’s sex life is healthy and normal. There is also a lack of any representation of the queer community in any serious way. Also, though it is brought up many times that Lorelai is not rich….she is. She compares her wealth many times to her parents, and of course in comparison to them she is by no means wealthy, but the attitudes towards the working class can sometimes be disheartening. When I re-watch the show one of the things I struggle with now that I’m a little older is how ungrateful Lorelai can be, and how Rory’s Golden-Girl status is accepted by pretty much everyone she has ever met.
There is no doubt that this show is telling the story of these two middle class white women and their journey, and not really anyone else’s. A positive in my books however, is despite the show ignoring things and promoting some questionable ideas, it also presents both the women in a way where the audience gets to decide if their actions were morally right or not. Many of the times that the women have to deal with any sort of conflict they are indulged and their behaviour is excused, which can get annoying. This does not always happen though, and as I’ve mentioned before, in many cases many of the character faults are challenged, which I really enjoy in narratives. This happens especially when it matters (cheating, peer pressure, fights). The Gilmore girls do at times, have to face the reality of their actions a few times.
Pretty much, Gilmore Girls is to me, a staple on my shelf of DVDs and I it will stay that way forever. Though, despite MY opinion, I fully recognize how it can be extremely exclusionary. The good outweighs the bad for me however, and I am content to re-watch it yearly and find new things to engage with and analyze.
Wednesday: Shadowhunters 1×11. Will Izzy be stripped of her runes?
Saturday: It will be the last Saturday post for a little while, but I think it’s going to make up for that. I’m going to talk about the implications of the idea of “strong” women.