Gilmore Girls, Part 1: The good

I may be the only person still watching Gilmore Girls, but it’s one of those situations of intense stubbornness after hanging on for seven seasons, and I struggle to admit just how far it’s fallen. This set of thoughts is divided into three parts, however, and this one is titled “The good”. The bad and the ugly are still to come.

Gilmore Girls is the quintessential dramedy, which means that other than our lead characters and a few choice others, most of the characters are really more caricatures than people. Even Lorelai’s parents, Emily and Richard, waver between cardboard cutouts and individuals with some genuine depth of motivation–the actors playing them are both quite brilliant, so kudos to them for bringing the depth. In my opinion, it’s when Emily shows some of her real self that this show really and truly shines.

Emily is of a generation and social class to which I do not belong, nor do I really relate, but that I can imagine emotionally when she talks about it with a level of self-awareness. In her world, being “Richard Gilmore’s wife” means that she acts entirely as the woman supporting the great man so that he can accomplish great things. She organizes and coordinates so that his home life runs smoothly, and she works very, very hard to maintain the front that is required by their social stature. Now, that’s obviously not a model of what feminism has done for us, and I think I’d be insane within 30 seconds of living that life. It also means that she deviates into controlling and domineering fairly regularly, but when it starts to break down and she realizes she doesn’t know how to be anything else, I feel her pain. She’s really envious of her daughter’s independence, and I love to see a strong, independent woman as much as the next feminist (whether Lorelai really is that is the subject of “Part 2: The bad”), but I also appreciate a character who can make me relate to women who, for whatever reason, never really had or saw that they had that option, and the feelings inherent in a lifetime of living that way. Emily has made a couple of really moving speeches to Lorelai in recent episodes that have softened Lorelai and made her understand a little better too. One was about how she was dealing with her fear after Richard’s heart attack by coordinating and organizing and playing the social role because she was afraid to lose him, and because that’s what she’s always done. The other was about how she has always lived with Richard as though they were paddling a canoe together, whereas Lorelai has been in a kayak on her own, paddling both sides.

It’s a clearly non-feminist character in a clearly non-feminist role within her life and marriage, but it’s one–again, when they let her deviate from caricature–that is capable of making me see the world a little more through her own eyes. That’s pretty much what I’ve got for “the good” right now. Negativity to come.

Comments

  1. sbg says

    I really enjoyed GG the first year, when there was more focus on the very estranged relationship between Richard and Emily and Lorelai. Then it all kind of started focusing primarily on Lorelai’s (and Rory’s) quest for lurve. I think the lurve elements were there from the get go, but there were other things too.

    Plus, and totally not related at all, but I got all fed up when people kept dissing Dean as “not good enough” for Rory, when she always seemed the one not good enough for him. Yeah. Sorry. Not the topic.

  2. Purtek says

    S’all good with the off-topic. The quest for “lurve” is pretty much the focus of Part 2: The bad.

    I agree with the stuff about Dean/Rory, though, which I’m not going to talk about next post. It often seems like the fact that everyone was insisting he wasn’t good enough for her made her think so, which made her not so much good enough for him.

  3. sbg says

    The other was about how she has always lived with Richard as though they were paddling a canoe together, whereas Lorelai has been in a kayak on her own, paddling both sides.

    What a great analogy. And the thing is – it’s all good, as long as the canoe and/or kayak stay upright. I think that’s something both characters don’t always remember. They each buck against the well-ingrained natures of the other, and often think the other is so terribly wrong there can be no middle ground.

    Emily’s the antithesis of what most consider a feminist woman, and yet for some reason I find sometimes she’s the epitome of it. I’m not sure how. She’s set in that traditional housewife role (albeit in a very posh way). She has her “duties” and does them well. Maybe it’s that she was not given much choice in the matter, but still managed to make what she did important in she and her husband’s life together.

    I agree with the stuff about Dean/Rory, though, which I’m not going to talk about next post. It often seems like the fact that everyone was insisting he wasn’t good enough for her made her think so, which made her not so much good enough for him.

    I stopped watching live ages ago, but sometimes catch it on syndication just as I’m getting home from work. In a recent rerun, Rory’s new boyfriend’s (of whom I am not fond) family determined she wasn’t good enough for him…and she got all wounded in her little bird way, called her mom. Not once was it mentioned that this was precisely what happened with Dean. Instead we got righteous indignation about how precious, precious, smart and ambitious Rory was and how DARE they treat her like that?! Ugh.

    Oh, man, I think I just realized I’m a Dean/Rory OTPer. I’m all fired up.

  4. Yam Erez says

    As a diehard GG fan, there’s only one thing that bothers me about the show’s premise, and that’s that a teen mom has an Honor Roll daughter. Not only do most teen moms not have Honor Roll daughters, they’re lucky if they keep their jobs as chambermaids and their daughters don’t repeat the cycle — and that’s usually the best-case scenario.
    I actually ponder who cared for Rory while Lorelai was working as a maid at the Independence Inn and they lived in potting shed. Mostly I worry that teens watching the show will think that even if they f–k up and get pregnant, it’ll all end up OK.

    My complaint about the plot is the ending. Rory’s job following Obama’s campaign: Lame-O. Why couldn’t she’ve gotten offered a job at the Philadelphia Inquirer, a leading paper (thought not the NYT), in a city where she knows only one person…Jess…Who we saw earlier has matured and written a novel, and, well…he’s hotter than Dean and has more integrity than Logan. It was a gimme…!

Trackbacks

  1. A Critical Analysis of Women in Gilmore Girls…

    The Hathor Legacy is “a site for critical analysis of the portrayal of women in TV and films.” One of the site’s authors, who goes by the moniker “Purtek,” posted the first part of 3 on Gilmore Girls:
    Gilmore Girls, Part 1…

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