Gaslighted by a Gilmore
Here be spoilers and I didn’t even sugar coat them. So do not read ahead unless you feel confident that you don’t care or you’ve seen the show.
Hey, Poodles. How was everyone’s Thanksgiving? Did we all find love? No? Did something other than your family disappoint you? Wanna talk about it? Good. Let’s. Like many of you, the highlight of my Thanksgiving was drinking and/or watching the four-part Netflix series Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. Somewhere around the mid-“Winter” episode, my feelings about this revisiting of a beloved show became clear to me in a very Keyser Söze way:
Perhaps the greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing me that I had enjoyed the Gilmore Girls for 16 years.
We’ve been gaslighted, y’all. Don’t believe me? Proof’s in the pudding. According to the website Psychology Today, there are three basic stages of gaslighting. The first is disbelief.
I started the show when I was the same age as Rory. Because of that, the need to relate to her was effortless. Granted, hindsight being 20/20 and all, the similarities stopped at “white girl in a private high school,” but nonetheless, I could relate in some small measurable ways. Maybe the real reason for me watching was an as-yet-undiagnosed bout of #FOMO because all my close schoolmates would obsess over this show. Maybe it was the love of the dialogue, the esoteric references, the character quirks and how adult drinking coffee all the time was. The use of polysyllabic words was everything to me and while everyone was straight up losing their shit over whatever that California show was that starred Peter Gallagher’s eyebrows, I was wanting a Gilmore Girl life. (Edited to add: The show was The O.C. whatevs).
Now? Not so much. I think I know why: Rory was, and still is, an entitled asshole.
Thanks for the alley-oop, Googs.
When she was 16, it was easy to see her follies and chalk them up to part of the “coming of age” narrative. The problem is that she has plateaued. Any lessons she should have gleaned never stuck. We can’t blame her age anymore; she’s clearly just a narcissist. It’s also hard to imagine her writing for the likes of the New Yorker or the Atlantic. Being a freelance writer requires effort. I haven’t been given any evidence to support that kind of journalist she presents herself as being. I grew exhausted by the self congratulatory nature of Rory and never saw anything that would validate those slaps on the back.
The next stage is defense. In this case, I found myself defending Rory’s manipulations, much to the chagrin of my own, AT BEST, mediocre code of ethics. Validating Rory’s actions and reactions became kind of a weird game. It became “I wonder which one of her parents or grandparents she got THAT from,” where I took a drink any time I correctly identified the source. (Lorelai is a good pony if you’re looking to get MC Hammered.) It is really Rory’s entire network of support that indulges and placates her in this behavior. (See: Lorelai’s rationalizing Rory’s treatment and feelings towards Paul, Gilmore Girls’ own Ann Veal/Her?/Egg.) In the off chance that does not work, they deploy the Gilmore family credo seen here:
This brings up the whole “rub some money on it” issue. It was really difficult for me to garner sympathy for Rory at all because we have never had to see her struggle. Any inconvenience was remedied by money or some sort of a luxury being thrown at her. Even if it meant seeing her fail in NYC in some shitty apartment or really having to ask for help in a time of need, she’s had a pretty charmed life. I suspect a lot of her wealth has to do with Richard’s passing and her being an heir to his wealth, but there was never a consequence of her going to Paris to visit Logan while cheating on her boyfriend Paul.
Moreover, she was told by her mother that she wasn’t being terrible and that “It didn’t fit. It needs to fit, believe me.” TWO YEARS, PEOPLE. She had been dating a man for two years while having an affair with Logan, who was engaged! These are garbage humans! WHY AREN’T MORE PEOPLE ANGRY ABOUT THIS?! I feel like I’m going crazy here and that this is a huge glaring issue for me even though it came off as a running gag. Maybe I’m being too sensitive, but it just felt shitty.
The final stage is depression. I realized that one of the biggest reasons I continued to watch this show was the same reason I get any sort of enjoyment out of Orange is the New Black. (Godtopus help us if Rory and Piper ever get sent up to Sing-Sing.) Both shows are carried by their peripheral and supporting characters. The familiarity of seeing the warm faces of Stars Hollow residents made me swell with joy. It was painful to have to wait until fucking “Fall” to see my ray of sunshine Sookie, but I sobbed. Totally worth it. I found it lovely how Michel became a more centralized character in Lorelai’s life (he was even in the secret wedding!); how Paris chewed up Chilton and her stylish New York brownstone; and how Doyle’s storyline was art reflecting life as played by Danny Strong. I could watch a Paris-Doyle spin-off for days. The Bunheads cameos were fantastic and made me happier than anything. Even the musical, if a touch longer than it should have been, gave me a second wind. The Gilmore suitors were even easier to empathize with thanks to a tremendous amount of growth and a better arc to their storylines for Luke, Jess, Logan (Logan might actually be the best fit for Rory, as he did the least amount of changing), Dean, Jackson, and even fucking Kirk, guys. But as a whole, there was no joy in Mudville. I was hate-watching mid-“Spring.”
In truth, we’ve all been led to believe that this is a coming of age story about three generations of women. Two have loved and lost greatly, shown incredible depth and richness to their character, but have also managed to be damaged and then gain confidence and improve on themselves in a way that does actually show growth over 16 years. The youngest generation of the Gilmore clan (not entirely true) still has a lot of work to do before I’m convinced of her being a good person. Whether Rory was knocked up by a Wookie or a Huntzberger, she needs to be better. We’ve already seen how this plays out. Change the narrative, show some accountability and responsibility. Lean into it, Rory. Give your wee baby a better family name to live up to instead of this crest I made for you:
And now, I’ve got to talk this over with some food.