I love watching Gilmore Girls. For the past month or so, I’ve been watching an average of two episodes a day—while eating, while cooking, while shirking my work. I love it—and yet watching it makes me really, really, REALLY happy that we’re past the early aughts and that TV shows are more or less now expected to portray life in all of its messy and diverse realism and also makes me feel like society has a whole has made tons of progress—in terms of gender, class, race, and sexuality. But there so many things about the show that rub my liberal, feminist, 21st-century self the very wrong way that I just couldn’t take it any longer. I need to vent.
1. Traditional Gender Roles: TOP OF THE LIST. AND MY BIGGEST GRIPE. Pls prepare yourself for the intense rant that follows. There’s Emily Gilmore, the classic housewife, whose only job seems to be hiring and firing maids and managing cocktail parties for her husband and buying clothes and, oh, harrassing and micromanaging her daughter. There’s Lorelai, who just looooooooves to shop, relies on the manliest-man-man, flannel-clad Luke Danes to do all of her house projects for her, who teases Luke by calling him a “nancy boy”—er, thus reinforcing gender stereotypes—and, um, as much as I love her is painted as a ditz—the only thing we ever see her reading are magazines. There’s Rory, who’s playing the total tight-ass, virgin stereotype (remember Tristan?), the obedient, hard-working, anxious, good-grade-earning girl, who also dresses like a total nerd most of the time, who expects to be pursued by boys rather than to pursue, who is constantly being saved by the men in her life, who is fought over multiple times. Oh, and her friendship with Paris is like a parody of female friendship as presented to us by the dominant culture—it’s so competitive that, even they are close, Paris never entirely trusts her! Dean’s just like Luke, another alpha/ultra male and Jess, too, just a different type—the silent, brooding type—and Logan’s the player. Louise and Madeline—UGH—they’re the “sluts” to the Rory/Paris virgin. Jackson doesn’t even want to be in the delivery room when Sookie gives birth (I’m sorry, but that just seems sexist-ly squeamish to me), wants to SMOKE HIS CIGAR IN THE WAITING ROOM—um, hello, is this Mad Men??? Also the fact that Lorelai and Rory are always eating a ridiculous amount of junk food feels like a dated attempt to be progressive, like, WOW, LOOK AT THESE WOMEN WHO EAT!!!! but it just goes way too far. It reminds me of magazine profiles of female celebrities that start off talking about how she order a burger and fries. Then there’s Lindsay, the perfect little housewife, cooking pot roast for her husband, and Chris, who has zero idea how to care for his own infant daughter…. ugh. The list could go on and on.
2. Little to no racial diversity… Gypsy, Lane, Mrs. Kim, Michel. Of these four, Lane’s the most central character, and yet she still often, like the others, feels slightly peripheral.
3. …and adherence to racial stereotypes. OK, I will admit that the fact that the town mechanic is a Latina woman is pretty awesome. But, also, like, she has black hair and olive-toned skin and her name is Gypsy, which is a derogatory term for the Romani people? Mrs. Kim only rarely, very, very rarely transcends her assigned role as a super-strict, super-Christian, unforgiving Korean mom. Michel’s race is never once referred to and, again, he’s always a bit on the outside—someone for Sookie and Lorelai to mock, which smacks a bit of the historical figure of the black jester. As for Lane: she is probably the best character on the show, and the most contemporary one, too. Go Lane!!
4. There’s so little casual dating! Am I missing something? Does everyone meet their SO as quickly and easily as everyone does in GG? Seriously, as soon as a new male character is introduced, I can tell he’s going to be a romantic interest.
5. What about gay characters? Michel seems to be coded asgay, and everyone seems to be slightly wink-y about it, but it’s never addressed. Again: is this Mad Men???
6. Sex. There’s making out or there’s vaginal intercourse. No spectrum. Maybe this is because it’s pre-HBO. Still. It bothers me. And, the other thing: when Logan and Rory sleep together, Lorelai shames her a little bit. She clearly doesn’t think Rory should be sleeping with someone she isn’t dating. Yes, ok, she wants/needs to watch out for her daughter and Logan does seem incredibly awful, but I think it could have been handled a little differently.
7. Class/Money. Rory and Lorelai are occasionally scrimping and yet they are still always, always eating out for every meal, buying coffee multiple times a day, and, well, let’s not forget that whenever either of them have money problems, Emily and Richard are there to bail/help them out. That scenario is realistic for about 2% of Americans. Also, that scene with Logan’s parents, where they attack him for dating Rory, who’s so beneath him in class…I mean, really?? That’s like pre-Mad Men.
8. Harvard. How obnoxious is it that they talk about Rory going to Harvard as a done deal long before she even gets in???
Do you agree/disagree? What bothers you about Gilmore Girls?