The long-awaited revival of the beloved Gilmore Girls hit Netflix last November amidst snow-covered, twinkly-lit online promotions. Prepped with PJs, pancakes, and tissues, my best friend and I finished binging it less than 2 days after its release. It has taken me that long to collect myself from those Final Four Words long enough to form my thoughts into coherence.
Gilmore Girls is by far my most-watched television show, and that is genuinely saying something. I have watched 24, The Office, and Charmed fully-through at least 6 or 7 times, but that still does not compare to how often I’ve returned to Stars Hollow. Similar to my experience reading Harry Potter, I watched Gilmore Girls through my own phases of growing up (pre-teen, high school, college, adulthood) and always find a character to identify with.
The one that that never changed was my love for Rory Gilmore. More so then any other fictional character, Rory was my role model. She encouraged me want to be smart, witty, and kind. Staying home to watch TV or study could be cool, and caring about nothing but boys and parties made you lame. Saying something wrong or embarrassing (“Thank you” after being kissed) happens to all of us, and is nothing to be ashamed of. As a child, all of the selfish and stupid choices she made didn’t seem to matter. I couldn’t properly understand the consequences and implications of her decisions in the real world, because I was a kid. Since the rest of the Gilmore Girls universe was always happy to either ignore or forgive her inexcusable behavior, I fell in line.
As I grew up, however, the rose-colored glasses started to come off. Rory’s bad behavior mounted very slowly throughout the 7 seasons, but it became increasingly alarming. Rory cheating on Dean with Jess wasn’t great, but could be chalked off to teenage antics. Sleeping with the newly-married Dean was her first serious offense, followed closely by her second serious offense of handling this mistake about as terribly as one could. Not believing she was wrong, lashing out at Lorelai for pointing out how wrong it was, sleeping with him again, and running away to Europe and ignoring everyone. Yikes.
Rory stealing that boat was another incident that didn’t fully resonate with me until I was older. She received actual criticism for the first time in her life, and reacts by committing a felony, dropping out of college, and cutting off all contact with her mother. And then when she changes her mind, she cuts off contact with the grandparents who helped her drop out of college and cut off her mother! Incredible.
What I looked forward to most in Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life was to see where Rory was in life. I’d finally accepted all the terrible things she did in the original series, but was confident that in her 30s Rory will surely have grown beyond her young mistakes.
My confidence was sourly misplaced. As a fully grown adult, Rory was making all the same terrible choices. The original series ended with Rory rejecting Logan’s marriage proposal and safe life plan, with her going off to find her own bliss as a reporter. And 8 years later we find her… a failed reporter living off of Logan. They sleep together, but “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”, so they’re allowed to sleep with other people when they’re apart? And he’s engaged, and she has a boyfriend? What?!
That’s not only the worst part. Not only did she not grow from her mistakes. All the best parts of her personality have fully regressed and disappeared. Season 4 Rory loved reporting so much that she regularly collected multiple files worth of research for a single article of the Yale Daily News. Season 7 Rory was so determined to get a job at the Stamford Eagle Gazette that she camped out for days in the reception area with a binder worth of writing samples, offering ideas and story pitches to passing employees until they hired her. A Year in the Life Rory goes into a job interview… with no writing samples, no story ideas, and absolutely no answer to the basic question of what she had to offer the company. And then when she doesn’t get the job, she has a fit and shrieks at the interviewee that she “never wanted this stupid job anyways.” Who is this girl, and what has she done with Rory?!
After this disaster, she actually gets a huge break (through her connection to Logan, but whatever) to write a sample story as an “audition” for Condé Nast, a major media publication! Naturally she is going to do extensive research and give everything she has to prove herself to what is basically a dream job for any writer… right? No. She spends an hour interviewing sources for her story, falls asleep in the middle of the interview, and then sleeps with the guy. And never writes the story.
Not to mention that throughout her Logan Affair and sleeping with her story source, she actively has a boyfriend. She has been with Paul for 2 years knowing that she doesn’t even like him, and the “joke” is that she keeps “forgetting” to break up with him. And keeps cheating on him. Hilarious.
I actually can’t even begin to express how disappointing Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life was for me. Despite the many things to love about it, the revival felt like a final nail in the coffin on my love for Rory Gilmore. Before the revival, I had always loved her despite her flaws and mistakes because she had so many redeeming qualities that I admired. Determined, hard-working, independent, smart… and these new episodes I so eagerly awaited robbed her of them. I had always imagined watching Gilmore Girls with a daughter of my own, and encouraging her to be like Rory. Not so much anymore.