For anyone not familiar with the show, Gilmore Girls is a dramedy about a 32 year old mom (Lorelai) and her 16 year old daughter (Rory) who are best friends. Lorelai is more outgoing and playful while Rory is more shy and studious. They live in a small town in Connecticut with other spunky characters. Here are some of the reasons I love it:
1. The heart of the show is a healthy, supportive mother/daughter relationship.
In contrast to the typical conflict-heavy mother/daughter relationships typically portrayed on TV, Lorelai and Rory have a very strong and honest relationship. Rory’s not a surly rebel and Lorelai’s not a clueless tyrant. They’re well-rounded characters who draw strength from their relationship and support each other through life experiences.
2. Lorelai’s and Rory’s personality traits don’t define them. Rory is a very dedicated student dreaming of attending Harvard, and she’s also witty and shy and fallible. Lorelai is a spontaneous free spirit who’s also responsible, determined to provide the best life for her and her daughter.
This also applies to Emily (Lorelai’s mom). Although she seems to be more concerned with status than personal happiness, as the series progresses we get to see her tenderness and desire to connect with her daughter and granddaughter.
Sookie is the chef at the inn that Lorelai manages. She’s a vibrant, passionate professional. She’s sweet and compassionate and is a very significant member of the “village” that helps raise Rory.
Also, she happens to be larger than the typical actress and this has no impact on her personal or professional life (this is unfortunately extremely rare in Hollywood). Her size is never used as a source of humor or conflict. Her character could be played by a talented actress of any size. Like Lorelai and Rory, she’s a fun, spunky woman working very hard to have the best life possible. On a personal note, I particularly identify with her combination of enthusiasm and perfectionism.
4. Paris’s evolution (Warning: Spoilers)
In the beginning of the first season, Paris is the typical preppy mean girl bully. However, unlike other TV “mean girls”, we see Paris’s personal struggles early on… her parents are going through a very messy divorce, the boy Paris is crushing on barely acknowledges her, and she holds herself up to extremely high academic standards.
As Rory gains confidence, fights back against Paris’s bullying, and sees Paris’s pain, she and Paris develop a mutual respect for each other. They don’t become close friends, but they do share some tender moments that show the depth and vulnerability of their characters.
I also really like how the show handles the whole bully issue. Paris isn’t some villain to be vanquished. Rory doesn’t get revenge through passive aggressive tactics like pranks. She fights back by directly confronting Paris about her cattiness. This immediately reduces and eventually stops the bullying. In a social climate where bullying is such an issue, I think this is a really positive message to send out: Bullies are people who are struggling emotionally, and you still shouldn’t put up with their negative behaviors. If it can be done safely, being direct is the best way to respond and is going to earn you the most respect.
5. The women have personal goals completely independent of their romantic relationships.
Rory wants to attend Harvard and become a journalist. Lorelai and Sookie want to open their own inn together. Rory’s friend Lane is obsessed with music and finding a related career. All the women support each other emotionally and professionally. In a culture that too often portrays women as competitors, a show that has a full cast of women helping each other achieve their personal goals is really powerful and positive.
There are a few things I don’t love about Gilmore Girls, like how the romantic relationships tend to take center stage, but it’s still one of my favorite shows. It’s funny and sweet and leaves me with the warm fuzzies.
What are your favorite movies and TV shows? What aspects of them do you love the most?