The 30-Something Gang on 'Gilmore Girls' Hits Way Too Close to Home

The ThirtySomething Gang is more than just the butt of an Amy Sherman-Palladino joke on the newly rebooted Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. It’s a daunting reality for millennials who identify all too well with Rory Gilmore, Wookiee fetish excluded (I think). My affinity for the show has never been an objective one, the very nature of which is oxymoronic. Sherman-Palladino has, without knowing me personally, created a character whose life has strangely paralleled mine for more than a decade now—and I suspect she has also done so for a few thousand other women. These are the women who knew exactly what Rory meant when she said that no one would care that she was pretty if she failed her finals; women who had a Dean, a Jess and a Logan, in that order and were equally indecisive and admittedly selfish when it came to each of these relationships; women with a passion for writing and for sharing unique stories with the world; women who wanted to see the world or just see something.

So how did these intelligent, accomplished women end up dangerously unemployed or woefully underemployed, forced to return home with their tails between their legs, or at least consider it? I’m still trying to figure that out myself, but to those who say Rory is the worst journalist ever or that she is out of touch with reality, I reckon that neither of these is a result of failed realism on Sherman-Palladino’s part. The show, although relatable, has never been positioned as realistic. It is fantastic, literally, and therein lies much of its appeal. Rory Gilmore’s life may loosely reflect my own, but I have never once been to a town knitting festival, much less attended at least one similarly themed communal event on a monthly basis. It should come as no surprise that some of Stars Hollow’s most charming residents seem to have emerged directly from some fictional Narnia-like parallel universe, where ice cream queens are required to honor their commitments or be publicly shunned.

And so I return to the ThirtySomething Gang—criticized by some for being the source of undeserving ridicule, an offensive and demeaning depiction of hardworking, debt-riddled college graduates. I understand this reaction and maybe even share some of the resentment here, if based solely on the fact that Rory very likely did not face half of the challenges her age group does or will. But I also recognize the humor in the bizarreness of it all. This group does exist. They are not lazy or entitled, nor are they unrealistic or pathetic. They do not sit in the corner of vintage soda shops, nodding pleadingly at the likes of similarly unsuccessful Rory Gilmores of the world (okay, maybe sometimes). But they do spend hours tweaking their résumés, offering their professional services free of charge, and only sometimes placing their fate in the mythical powers of a lucky outfit. They do not return home downtrodden (or spit out like stale pieces of gum, as Babette so delicately put it) because they have, over the years, developed some irrational, inflated sense of self. I believe their goals are noble; their desires to contribute something great to the future of the world are less narcissistic than is often suggested. Like every generation before them, they are allowed a coming of age period, even if theirs seems an extended one. If we stray from the problematic case of Rory Gilmore in this instance and think of more realistic Gang members—ourselves and friends and former school colleagues—I think we may find we relate more closely than we thought.