It’s no big surprise that the Internet is abuzz with all things Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life after many, but not all, fans binge-watched the new season while also binging on turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie.
[INSERT REQUIRED GILMORE GIRLS SPOILER ALERT HERE!! STOP READING IF YOU CARE ABOUT LEARNING ANYTHING ABOUT THE NEW GILMORE GIRLS SEASON BEFORE YOU’VE WATCHED IT!!]
Fans of the original Gilmore Girl series are over the moon with the new episodes, but critics of all kinds are getting in some especially nasty digs because, well, that’s what people do these days to differentiate themselves from the thousands of other pieces with the name “Gilmore” in the title.
One writer at The Atlantic penned a piece about what a horrible reporter Rory Gilmore is and why she, a fictional character, shouldn’t have been surprised about not getting an article published in a fictional version of The Atlantic. One article was a psychological evaluation of what a horrible person Rory really is. And, of course, many pieces have weighed in on whether a GG revival was even necessary.
Necessary, maybe not. But given the number of viewers who binged on the seven seasons when it landed on Netflix, Netflix certainly knew it had a lucrative opportunity in Rory and Lorelai’s stories and that we’d want to know what had happened in their lives. Not surprisingly, as with most of us, their lives didn’t come with the fairy tale endings we might have imagined. And we seem to have a problem with that.
I confess. I am a relative newcomer to the series, having watched Season 1 on DVD with my daughter before it was discovered by Netflix. I’ve been revisiting it this year in bites both small and large depending on how depressed I was over the 2016 presidential campaign because sometimes a girl needs feel-good escapism when the world as we know it is falling apart.
When we first meet Rory of Stars Hollow, she’s the kind of girl many of us wish we had been (or maybe actually were) in high school. She was the quintessential good girl on the right path — smart, an ace in school, pals with her mom, a book lover, a friend who gave everyone the benefit of the doubt. Clearly, we thought, she was going to go on in the series in that same vein and that, of course, all good things would come to her. We expected that of her. Then we demanded it. And when she didn’t live up to the impossible, many critics turned on her.
Through various circumstances, and fault of her own, Rory evolved into a less than perfect person who doesn’t always make the “right” choices and struggled with the consequences.
Rory made some questionable choices along the way that didn’t seem to fit the version of her we’d been introduced to — sleeping with her married former beau Dean, temporarily chucking her journalism dreams at the first moderate amount of critique, dropping out of Yale for a semester because she was convinced she’d never be her version of Christiane Amanpour, and, of course, clinging for years to a relationship with a boyfriend whose family made it clear from the get go that she would never be good enough to be the spouse of the heir to a multi-billion dollar media empire.
So, as some critics are throwing a now 32-year-old Rory under the bus for her professional naivte and her slightly late quarter-life crisis, the thing that most are missing is that they are really judging all of us, themselves included, for being less than perfect beings.
Rory Gilmore is the kind of person we all are — imperfect, flawed, sometimes weak but with a good heart. Sometimes harsh, sometimes kind. At one moment following a path with clear-eyed precision, while later veering off on a professional or personal tangent she may or may not recover from.
I am that imperfect version of Rory. Her life story is the story of each one of us. So why are media critics so quick to judge her fictional decisions?
It’s because we enjoy picking on the girl who at first seemed so perfect and wonderful, only to discover that she’s more like us than we had imagined. It’s the same story we’ve just seen unfold with Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential campaign — we’re OK if a woman aims for the stars, but when she stumbles and fails to live up to ridiculous standards of perfection, the pitchforks come out.
Over the years of the original series, Rory made it clear that she was a fan of Hillary Clinton. Now both are suffering public criticism for their lack of perfection. The rest of us are pretty lucky we’ll never have to face the cruel media attacks for our own imperfect lives or our own flawed Rory Gilmore moments.
Whether you decide you like Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life or not, it’s time to cut Rory some slack. It’s not her fault that she’s just like the rest of us.
Joanne Bamberger is the founder of The Broad Side, a digital magazine of women’s commentary, and the author/editor of the the award-winning bestseller Love Her, Love Her Not: The Hillary Paradox.
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