In one week, Stars Hollow will come to life once again. With the premiere of a four-part revival, “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life” debuting on Netflix on November 25th, let’s recap the show’s best feminist lessons, shall we?
Lorelai Gilmore, played by Lauren Graham, is a SINGLE MOM, and a kick-ass one. In the show’s premiere we find out that Lorelai had Rory (Alexis Bledel) at 16, she moved out of her parents house and raised her daughter all by herself. Despite having aired in 2000 when a single-parent family wasn’t publicized on television, Lorelai Gilmore broke all stereotypes and raised an extremely intelligent, beautiful, and independent daughter. Despite all the hardships that come with being a single parent, the show’s creator, Amy Sherman-Palladino chose to focus on Lorelai’s achievements as a mother, and a working woman. She was the role model nobody expected her to be. She was brave, independent, sarcastic, and witty. She never let her or her daughter’s dreams remain dreams; Rory’s dream of going to Harvard was Lorelai’s too. This duo did what females *should* do for each other, support each other. It’s common for a reader or an audience of a TV show starting to claim qualities of their favorite character as their own. Watching Lorelai Gilmore, one can’t help but feel empowered, motivated, independent, and suddenly crave copious amounts of coffee.
Rory was RELATABLE. She was “nerdy,” goofy, independent, and listened to a wide array of music. Alexis Bledel’s character portrayed every type of young woman whether it was with the way she composed herself, her stance on relationships, her studious personality, her rebellious tendencies, and her unapologetic close-knit relationship with her best friend, her mom. Rory was independent, mature, likable, and strong. She made the show’s audience feel empowered, and comfortable with the who they were. So our girl went to Yale, and deemed Hillary Clinton as her inspiration. Rory unapologetically embraced her uniqueness, her intelligence, and her different interests. She never lost what made her different, and she stayed true to herself.
Gilmore Girls was filled with all types of female alliances from Lorelai and Sookie’s friendship, to Rory and Paris’ competitive, but ultimately supportive friendship. Although Lorelai managed the Stars Hollow Inn and Sookie (Melissa McCarthy) was the head chef, Lorelai always spoke to Sookie as her equal. Together they had plans to open up their own inn, they’d spend their free time talking about the location, the food, and the color of the walls. The transition from best friends to business partners was somewhat difficult, but they made it through. Rory and Paris, the most unlikely friendship, had a rocky. They argued like an old married couple but ultimately decided that they needed each other to survive in the world of rivalries, gossip, and deadlines. This pair spoke each other’s language, and before all else, school and their bright futures came first in the eyes of these women. So, the two who seemed the least likely to end up being friends, defied all odds and became inseparable. Paris and Rory’s friendship is a refreshing take on female friendship as it’s foundation is comprised of perseverance, killer focus, similar academic aspirations, and the support of each other.
What are gender norms? I’ll tell you what they are, something completely ABSENT from this show. Lorelai asks Luke to marry her, not the other way around! Rory rushes to Dean’s house when she knew she made a mistake after not telling him she loved him, then later she kissed *him* in the courtyard of her school. Rory made it known how she felt about Jess, even though she was still with Dean. And when Logan proposes to Rory she says ‘no’ and chooses to venture on into the workforce, head held high, fully aware of all her future adventures awaiting her! Sookie asked Jackson to move in with *her*! These women lived most of their lives without a paternal figure, so when they got older, they had already figured out that they didn’t need a masculine man to make the first move! They could do it because EQUALITY, because FEMINISM!
When it comes to sexuality, physical appearance, and the difference between masculine and feminine traits, Gilmore Girls overlooks it all. Michel, Lorelai’s co-worker at the Stars Hollow Inn, is never labeled gay or straight. He portrays tendencies of both sexual-orientations, but one may often find themselves not thinking much about Michel’s sexual orientation but instead, laughing at the bickering between him and Lorelai. Sookie’s weight was never discussed, but who cares about that when the writers of the show made Sookie so lovable, relatable, and endearing that her weight hardly comes to mind. The residents of Stars Hollow bear traits that aren’t “typical” for their gender: Taylor, the town organizer and local businessman, is both whiney manic. Gypsy, the town mechanic, is tough and rough around the edges. Jackson, the inn’s produce guy, is sensitive and romantic. Mrs. Kim, Rory’s best friend’s mom, runs her antique store with a no-bullshit attitude. Kirk, the odd floater/business man, is shy and feminine. Lane Kim, Rory’s best friend, is a secret music-loving punk rocker despite being raised in a religious family. And isn’t it invigorating to see most of the town’s women owning their own businesses? Patty has her dance school, Mrs. Kim has her antique shop. Gilmore Girls shows viewers that not everything is black and white, there are gray areas when it comes to how someone should look, act, and who they should choose to love. But it’s 2016, and some people *still* don’t understand that.
Gilmore Girls is a gift to us all. It had it’s faults, but the main takeaway from this iconic show is the easiness in which feminism was entwined into everyday life. There was not a day when Rory wasn’t chasing her ivy-league dream, or a day when Lorelai wasn’t remaining strong despite her unfortunate luck with men. This show subtly tackled issues like early 20th-century feminist issues, the public-sphere vs. private-sphere debate, or Roe v. Wade. Rory’s admiration of Hillary Clinton, and feminist writers like Sylvia Plath or Judith Butler was consistent throughout the show’s run. Although all three generations of the Gilmore women had their flaws, they represented the feminist era in which they were raised in; Although Emily Gilmore is an educated, resilient, and active feminist she still believes that a woman’s greatest achievement is to find a decent man. However, Rory, the third generation Gilmore feminist, is more focused on her career rather than her future family. Lorelai, however, is the happy medium between the two. She shares traits of both her mother and her daughter in that she really wants a stable family, but doesn’t let that overshadow her dreams and aspirations pertaining to her job. The show sheds light on how feminism came to be and how modern day feminists act in the world today. I truly believe that Gilmore Girls is an acclamation to feminism and what it truly stands for.