APADIA 8: The Gilmore Girls Rant
(What’s APADIA? See here.)
Totally random draft I’ve had in queue for ages: why I believe that “Gilmore Girls” is really a subversive repudiation of 21st-century parenting.
Back story to the show “Gilmore Girls” if you didn’t see it:
Teenage Lorelai has a baby. A year later, she leaves her upper-class home and goes half an hour away to a small hotel in a small town, where she gets a job as a maid and lives in the garden shed. After 15 years, she’s running the hotel and her daughter, Rory, is same age as Lorelai was then. The show follows them over seven years, plus a mini-season set nine years later. Throughout, Lorelai’s “best friends” relationship with Rory is set up as the ideal, and the inverse of her own relationship with her mother Emily, who’s shown to be insensitive, snobbish and cold.
I actually don’t see the show that way at all. I didn’t hate it. The dialogue is something people snark on, but I was okay with it. I was the right age for it: it was very turn-of-the-millennium. And I don’t mind unrealistically florid dialogue – I like people who have fun with words.
But mostly, I didn’t hate it because I think the whole show is actually about the opposite of what you think it’s about.
It’s not about a mom and daughter who are best friends. It’s a classic tragedy, about how someone tries so hard to avoid one fate that they land right into it.
Emily and Richard weren’t perfect parents, but by raising Rory in the opposite way, Lorelai recreated all the same problems.
They both had great educational opportunities. Both trade on their “quirky” personalities, but mostly they’re just long-winded and impractical. Both might have undiagnosed eating disorders (they’re both thin but constantly binge and never exercise). Both find very weird (and implausible) ways to hurt their parents. One cuts them out of her life (at 17). The other writes a family tell-all (without an agent, a contract, connections, or much apparent talent). Both accidentally get pregnant by a rich, charming, self-involved, morally bankrupt sandy-haired guy.
But Lorelai at least worked her ass off. Her daughter, taught to believe that she was exceptional, squandered opportunities for success. (She worked on the Obama campaign and… made ZERO connections? She got a good byline… and got mad because that didn’t turn into a career? She had a $250K trust fund and spent it on… dirty weekends in Paris?)
And so, at the end of the series, Rory is unexpectedly pregnant with zero prospects. Exactly where her mother had been, despite her mother’s lifetime of effort to give her a different life.
That is some “Gift of the Magi”-level irony.
If I had to believe that Lorelai and Rory were the endlessly charming role models they were sold as, I’d loathe the show. But if the point of Gilmore Girls was to sneakily tell a story about the bad results of good intentions… that’s a lot more interesting.