I am a millennial who grew up watching Gilmore Girls. Mom and I had to watch it in her bedroom because the fast-paced talking really annoyed my dad and brother. My mom and I really connected to Lorelai and Rory, because, like them, we were friends as well as mother and daughter — although we have a healthier relationship than them. We travelled together, we went to museums together, and we loved shopping together. Like Rory, I am an avid reader who prefers staying in to finish a book than go out to the bars. I felt comfortable talking to my mom about my relationships (without the sex details, because I have some boundaries).
Naturally, like many others, I was ecstatic and impatient for the Netflix mini-series. I watched all four hour and a half episodes over two days (I’m sure that seems slow to some people). Once I finished I needed some time to process my feelings before writing them. While I enjoyed the series, there were definitely many cringe-worthy moments. On the whole, I think the show ignored — or mocked — a lot of the struggles that the shows original watchers are currently facing.
Rory’s struggles as a writer
It was refreshing to see a character who knew what she wanted to do with her life, but realize that it’s not that easy. As someone who is the character’s age, I am also struggling with the life decisions I’ve made so far and wondering if I took the right path. However, this important and relatable situation was later mocked by the “30somethings club” in Stars Hollow. The club consists of 30-somethings who had lost their jobs and had to move back home — a current reality for millennials. Instead of showing sympathy and empathy for this club, the characters were mocked; they were depicted as silly and needy. Forgive me for not seeing the humor of feeling that your hard work and education have not provided you with the job you were promised, that the idea of the American dream seems further away than ever. Rory, who everyone in the town thought should join the club, scoffed at the idea, repeatedly saying that she’s “not back,” even though she has no job, no prospects, no car (though we see her driving), and no underwear. Sorry, pal, but you’re part of the club now.
Fat Shaming in “Summer”
One of the most out-of-character scenes was in the third episode, “Summer.” Lorelai and Rory are at the public pool laying down on chaise lounges while two kids hold an umbrella over each of them. Since when they did become such princesses? But, fine, I can be amused for a second and move on. What really pissed me off was the comments about the presence of fat rolls, the grimacing and disgusted faces in response to the fat, and the horrified faces as a larger man in a speedo stops in front of Lorelai and Rory to talk to them. I’m not an idiot; I know such comments happen ALL the time. I’ve heard my friends make the same comments when we are at the pool in Palm Springs or Las Vegas, but does it need to be in the show? What did we gain from these interactions except showing an incredibly petty and superficial side of characters we thought were better than that? This was the scene where I was cringing as I watched. Unlike Rory’s story line, which got worse each episode, there was no arc. It was flat out awful.
Race and Class
When Rory was introduced to us, we recognized how lucky she was to have rich grandparents (“privileged” wasn’t a part of my teenage vocabulary). She went to a great prep school, got a car, went to Yale, etc. Lucky. Except now, she’s 32 and seemingly unaware of her own privilege. How is she flying to London (to cheat on her boyfriend who she emotionally abuses) when she doesn’t have a job? Maybe Logan pays for it, but that makes me feel really icky — like she’s being bought. How did she afford a place in Brooklyn? Unlike many of our generation, she’s privileged to have a place to go when she’s jobless. And instead of being grateful, she shuns the “30something club.”
When it originally aired, Gilmore Girls wasn’t exactly known for its diversity. Sure, Lane and her mom are Korean, and Michel was, to reference 30 Rock, a toofer — black and gay, but that was pretty much it. It’s fine; that was then and, luckily, diversity in media has come a long way (and still has a long way to go). But Lane was barely in the new series. We see a beautiful black woman be berated by Paris. Then we have Emily’s new maid, Berta. We never know what ethnicity she is, but she has a big, brown family who start moving in with Emily. Where to being? Well, at first, it was funny that Emily didn’t know what ethnicity Berta is because of course the rich, white old lady won’t know. But then? Why did it need to continue? We see Emily become dependent on Berta and even heat up soup when she’s sick (though Berta makes it clear that Emily can’t even do that), but that does not solve the problem of erasing an ethnicity issue.
At the beginning of the first episode we meet Paul, Rory’s boyfriend of two years. She forgot she invited him for dinner. Lorelai and Luke don’t remember him. This is the joke for two (or three?) episodes. Rory forgets him, ignores him, and doesn’t break up with him. The guy seems really nice, so what is Rory doing? Who is this girl who strings along a guy for two years? Who forgets to break up with a guy? Maybe “emotional abuse” is a strong term here, but that is what this relationship (if you can call it that) reeked of.
Lastly, what was up with that musical? I really have no idea what the point of it was. Those 15 minutes really could have been used better! Like, maybe Emily finally understanding Berta, showing Lane rip Rory apart for being so whiney, etc.
After her father’s death, we don’t see a great deal of Lorelai dealing with her death. Her focus (which is forced by Rory’s concerns) is on her mother’s grief. However, in “Fall,” we are given a look at Lorelei’s grief and her journey there. After reading Wild by Cheryl Strayed, Lorelei decides she needs to follow that path and go hike the Pacific Crest Trail. It helped Cheryl, so it should help her, right? Well that is what several other women thought as well. Recently divorced, lost, and confused women flock to the trail and bond over their reasons for coming there in the hopes of finding inner-peace. There is a strict divide between the movie and book aficionados. On the day the women are going to start, Lorelai can’t find her permit and is forced to leave. Not finding an open coffee shop, she talked a small walk and is stunned by the incredible views of the mountains. There, she calls her mother to recount the story that best represents her father (there’s a great backstory to this… you should watch it). As she tells her story, Lorelai cries for, what we assume, is the first time since her father’s funeral. Lorelai didn’t need to hike the PC Trail (an activity she would never have willingly agreed to before) to find her inner-peace. She didn’t need to do what several others were doing; she found her own path … literally.
That’s it. That’s the only moment I was emotionally connected to anything in the show. Needless to say, I am pretty disappointed with the show, but did manage to enjoy it if I stopped thinking too hard. There should have been more depth and growth, but there wasn’t. I understand Amy Sherman Palladino wanting to please the original fans, I do. But those fans have grown up — the characters had not.
For some more in-depth looks at criticism of the show, Jen Chaney from The Vulture wrote this and for a break down Gilmore Girls and white feminism, Aaron Kappel and Jessica Friday from The Establishment wrote this.