Rewatching Gilmore Girls as an Adult

Gilmore Girls was one of the first shows that I found myself obsessed with as an early teen. It was light and funny, and as intelligent as a 14-year-old would want a show to be. On many occasions I would have classified it as the perfect show. But lately, I’ve been rewatching the show as an 18-year-old; and, boy, do I have thoughts about the show. 

  1. 1. Lorelai is incredible and Rory is … *sigh* 

    Lorelai - the 16-year-old who got pregnant, ran away from home and grew to run an inn while being a single mom, and Rory - the 16-year-old who is good at school, I guess? 

    At 14, I focused more on Rory because she was the teenager who liked to read and listen to music. She was equal parts unique and generic to be relatable to most teenager girls from her background. Lorelai was the mother; no 14 year old wants to listen to the words of another mother. 

    But rewatching the show turned the tables for these two characters in my head. I had so much new found respect and admiration for Lorelai. I realise how much she must have gone through and am just amazed at her strength. She seems so wonderful as a person - just to know and be friends with. 

    But Rory just seems so whiny and annoying. I initially thought that it was just her as a teenager, but enter Yale Rory who is just the worst. Throughout the show, I just found her to be such an ungrateful daughter to a mother that has done so much for. Furthermore, her relationships with Dean and Logan are unsettling. The show portrays her as this well-read and wise individual, but doesn’t show this through her behavior in any way. Citing books and famous people from the past isn’t indicative of intelligence. 

    My focus the second time watching the show was more towards Lorelai, and less towards Rory. All the plot lines dedicated to Rory were just plain disappointing and annoying. 

  2. 2. “Culture that’s not American - what’s that?”

    Watching Americans delve into foreign cultures is always a blend of amusing and disappointing, but Gilmore Girls really struck a nerve with this. 

    This is best seen through Lane and her mom, Mrs. Kim. Lane’s Korean family is portrayed as incredibly traditional and orthodox, and while this may totally be a thing in real life, it has culturally insensitive lines crossed. 

    It’s one thing to have strict parents, and strictness as a result of culture, but Gilmore Girls exaggerates this to a degree that borders insensitivity. It has this sub-text of American culture and life as being freeing and fun while Korean culture is caging and dull. And this could potentially send out a message that's not okay. Dragging a whole culture - especially one that is impacted by the acculturation of being in another country - is not okay. 

    In case Korean culture wasn’t upset enough, one episode in the show has an “Asian Themed Party.” What is an Asian themed party? According to Gilmore Girls, it’s East Asian cultures melanged into one aesthetic ideal for a party. Does this border some kind of cultural appropriation? 

  3. 3. If it was produced today, Gilmore Girls would be cancel culture’s next victim.

    Gilmore Girls was championed as a show about feminism and femininity as not a lot of shows in the 2000s (or before) were centred about the lives of females and these lives are shown as complex and complication, which is great. 

    But despite this, there are a lot of subtle moments of sexism and homophobia. It’s not explicit with notions of “women shouldn’t do this”, but more subtle moments of “I’m not like other girls” and “men carrying bags is gay.” One moment that stuck out to me in particular was Sookie explaining how she wants to be “the girl” in the relationship. As an early teen, dialogue like this can have a significant impact on the way you see the world. 

    Moreover, there are other moments of fatphobia and body-shaming which I wouldn’t deem particularly feminist. This may have never even struck you because of the quick-paced banter on the show, but the problem is that it was there. 

    And the elephant in the room for me was the lack of well-represented people of color. The keyword is “well represented” because Lane and Mrs. Kim were not given the justice they deserved. Michel is my personal favorite character, but having just one dark-skinned person just feels like they added him as a token, diversity hire. 

Watching the show, with a differently organized mind at 18, I found things new things to appreciate and be disappointed by. These observations don’t make me dislike the show - no work of art or media is flawless - but has definitely made me view the show in a different light. I see the show now more as a product of its time and the flawed notions of feminism, representation, and culture that existed. It also shows the stage that we’re currently at, and how much more progress we need in these matters. 

Furthermore, I enjoyed the whole experience of rewatching the show because it gave me an opportunity to reflect on the way that I have changed as a person.

The way I received the show at 14 and 18 provide a study in the way I have grown and think differently about things. And so, I wholeheartedly recommend rewatching a show you enjoyed as a child and exploring how your thoughts have changed as an exercise of self-reflection. 

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