What We Learned (or Didn't) from the Girls of the Gilmore Girls

Because I spent an inordinate amount of the past month binge watching all seven seasons of the Gilmore Girls, I feel I have garnered the appropriate qualifications to spend the remainder of this post overanalyzing and reviewing the single most formative show of my teenage years.

It's a show that's made me laugh, cry, and scream violently at the television. And I would like to think that, after 7 seasons* 22 episodes/season*42 minutes/episodes (please don't do that math), I've learned a few things. I'd really like to think that. I'll let you read on and be the judge, though.

First and foremost...
Why Rory is a Terrible Person and You Won't Learn Anything from Her

You will not learn anything from Rory. Don't try. Inasmuch as she is the main and title character of the show, see if you can ignore her, as it'll improve your viewing experience.

  • Rory is boring. She is the equivalent of hotel art. Her character is inoffensive to the point that it is completely devoid of personality. She likes all the music. She reads all the books. She eats all the junk food. She dates all the boys. She is beloved by all the people, though for the life of me I can't tell you why. In seven years of Rory's life, I can name about two or three times I heard her express marginally controversial opinions. Grow a personality, you drip.
  • Rory is a snob. I realize the cast of Stars Hollow is supposed to be this eclectic mix of people who are cause for eyebrows raises galore, but Rory is constantly throwing major side eye at their antics. While her mother can pull off shade and side-eye because of her McSassy personality, Rory just comes off as judgmental. 87% of Bledel's acting involves an eyebrow raise, an "Okayyyy", and a "Oh jeez"-laugh. She doesn't bother developing sincere relationships with any of the weirder characters in the series; she's too busy getting irritated (see: yelling at Shawna for having the television on in another room) or living in her own self-involved world to give a single thought to anyone else. Remember when she admitted to her parents that she doesn't hang out with any of her staff at the Yale Daily News? It's not a full-time job and you're not a real boss, you egomaniac.
  • Rory is a hypocrite. Whatever the show likes to assert about Rory's childhood, Rory has had everything handed to her on a silver platter. While she might not have been born with a silver spoon in mouth, she's probably about two degrees away. She went to a high-falootin' private school, complete with a uniform and fencing classes, and continued on to the humble Yale University...on her grandparents' dime. She did not have to buy her first car (compliments of an overindulgent and annoying boyfriend), or her second (a brand new Prius compliments of overindulgent and extremely wealthy grandparents). There's nothing wrong with having money or being related to people with money, but Rory does an excellent job of simultaneously scorning people who have money. In season 7, Logan invites Rory to attend an admittedly lavish party full of his business associates. He kindly and thoughtfully introduces her to a successful writer, for whom she immediately writes an article ridiculing the party and its attendees. Please note that she openly mocks the rich and wealthy at a party to which her rich and wealthy boyfriend invites her, and then proceeds to go home to the apartment for which her rich and wealthy boyfriend pays. Dang, Rory. Dang.
  • There's Just No Way. Rory did not hang out with her shut-in of a best friend, go on dates with her overly-attached boyfriend (Dean you're just so gross), indulge Paris' mandatory study sessions, visit her grandparents for dinner on Friday evenings, eat 73 pounds of junk food and have movie marathons with her mother on Saturday nights, attend every single town meeting and festival ever, constantly shop for used books and cd's, drink coffee at Luke's every single morning, read every single book in the history of ever, endear herself to the entire Chilton school body, get eight hours of sleep, and graduate as Valedictorian. I call bull. As a society, we've talked about the unrealistic physical standards Barbie sets for little girls. Why aren't we talking about the unrealistic standards Rory sets for students?
  • Rory dated Dean. Gross.
You may ask, then, why I spent so much time watching a show about a girl I can't stand. Despite...Rory, this show is rich, colorful, and, while not quite on par with Aesop's Fables, brimming with lessons. 

The Most Inspiring Women of the Gilmore Girls and What We Can Learn From Them
*Please not that Emily Gilmore, while one of my favorite characters, did not make the cut. Emily is what I would consider a Lawful Neutral, waffling between light villainy and thoughtful generosity. Despite her extravagance and lavishness, she is actually kind of relatable. 

5. Lorelei Gilmore

Lorelai Gilmore misc. - lorelai-gilmore Photo
Lorelei is at the very bottom of this list because she shares a lot Rory's hamartias. I mean, it makes sense, being as they're a family and all, so they can be snobby and entitled and judgmental together. But while her rebel-without-a-cause schtick is grating and overdone, and though she constantly exploits the kindness of her fellow townsfolk, Lorelai demonstrates a fierce and constant and exemplary love for her daughter. She supports Rory through every heartbreak, every setback, and every failure, which, if you think about how awful of a person Rory is, is pretty impressive. 

4. Lulu

Anyone who can date Kirk deserves a mention. If loving the unlovable is an acquired skill and an art, Lulu is a master.

3. Sookie St. James

Sookie St. James nella cucina del ristorante.
Sookie is a true artist, and she is dedicated to her craft. As the resident chef at the Independence Inn and later the Dragonfly Inn, she is constantly challenging herself to create unique and bold menus while maintaining the integrity of her food. While on maternity leave, Sookie has her staff sneak her some of Luke's cooking and calls him non-stop to critique his dishes. Obnoxious? Certainly. But that sort of unwavering commitment to excellence is something for which we should all strive, don't you think?

Also, how much does she love Jackson?? Her self-sacrificial love for her husband is truly heartwarming. For those of you who don't know, Jackson is the produce supplier to the Inn, and therefore works closely with Sookie. When a rival vegetable man (which GG would have you believe is a legitimate career option) offers Sookie some vegetables that are far superior to Jackson's vegetables, Sookie chooses Jackson's. She is a top-notch chef whose cooking is her pride, but she chooses to support her husband first and foremost. There's something really precious about that.

2. Paris Gellar

Of all the characters on this show, Paris is the one to whom I most closely relate, or at least the character whom I would most like to be. Yes, she is cutthroat, dramatic, socially oblivious, and occasionally irrational. She is also ambitious, savvy, and aggressive in the pursuit of her goals. I realize that I'm supposed to find her whiteboards and laminated itineraries excessive and borderline crazy, but in all honesty, I admire that she is able to find so many opportunities and take advantage of them, and candidly, I'm jealous of her stamina. Her short-lived decision to break up with Doyle, while sophomoric, highlights the purity and depth of her ambition.

Additionally, Paris is actually a pretty great friend. In their final years together at Yale, Paris pushes Rory and holds her accountable in a way no one else will. When Rory quits Yale, self-indulgent brat that she is, Paris hunts her down and tries to change her mind. As graduation nears, Paris encourages (...ok, forces) Rory to apply for innumerable scholarships and grants. Paris watches out for Rory. We could all stand to have a friend like that - one who pushes and pulls us towards greatness.

1. Ms. Kim

Stick with me on this one. Ms. Kim's entire character is a parody of religion. It is often offensive and always hyperbolic. I have strong opinions about the representation of religion, especially Christianity, on television (see: Ann, Arrested Development; Marsha, Parks and Recreation; Dale, Greek; etc.), but let's set that aside for the moment. Ms. Kim is severe and unrelatable. However, there is one defining moment of the whole series that completely changed how I thought about her.

Ms. Kim's daughter, Lane, is kicked out of the house for joining a band and breaking pretty much every one of Ms. Kim's rules. When Lane's band has run out of opportunities and is on the verge of breaking up, Lane crawls back to Ms. Kim's house and asks to be allowed back. She swears to follow all of Ms. Kim's rules and give up the band. What happened next brought me to the brink of tears: Ms. Kim turns to her and asks her, isn't the band her dream? How dare she give up so easily!

In that moment, Ms. Kim epitomizes the adage 'Love the sinner, hate the sin'. (Let it be known that I do not think playing in a band is a sin, but Ms. Kim does.) Her daughter has rejected her and her lifestyle, but when Lane begins to give up on her dream, Ms. Kim steps in. She spends the remainder of the episode using her connections to help the band plan a tour. Ms. Kim's love surpasses her disapproval, and though she may wish for different things for her daughter, she fights for her daughter's success.

I've enjoyed this series for many reasons, but Ms. Kim's forgiveness and grace towards Lane is perhaps the most beautiful and profound moment of the Gilmore Girls.

In my humble opinion.

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