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Gilmore Girls walking through Fall Festival
Gilmore Girls walking through Fall Festival
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Why Rory Gilmore is Not Your Role Model

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Rutgers chapter.

When I started watching Gilmore Girls as a fifteen-year-old, I wanted to be Rory Gilmore. She has nearly perfect grades, effortless beauty, and endless opportunities. Only after watching the show for a second time did I realize that it was an illusion. Rory Gilmore is not my role model, and she shouldn’t be yours either.

Gilmore Girls is known for its endearing mother-daughter relationship, fall aesthetic, and romanticization of academia, having viewers wish that they, too, could live in the small town of Stars Hollow. Citizens of Stars Hollow idolize Rory and treat her like a princess. However, this image is oftentimes a ruse. Time and time again, Rory makes mistakes and receives a pass for them. And while it’s only human to make mistakes, it’s not okay to romanticize the conscious repetition of these mistakes.

*Possible spoilers ahead*

Exhibit a: denying her privilege

Rory’s denial of her privilege is most clearly shown in season 7, episode 8 “Introducing Lorelai Planetarium,” in a scene where Rory writes an article about attending a new Internet company’s launch party with her rich boyfriend Logan. Rory is surprised when Logan expresses that he is upset over her criticism about the people at the party, as she writes that “they can no more imagine a world without trust funds than a world without water imported from Bali,” suggesting they are out of touch with reality. Logan explains how he is not ashamed to be one of those people and that Rory is just like those people she criticized: she attended prep school, she goes to Yale, and her grandparents are building an astronomy tower in her name.

Rory vehemently denies this, but Logan lays it out for her loud and clear at the end of their conversation when he says, “You’re not exactly paying rent either.” And that is the truth; Rory may not be a trust fund kid on paper, but her grandparents pay for her extremely expensive education and luxurious material items. Yes, they are more than willing to integrate her into their wealthy lifestyle, but Rory is just as willing to acclimate.

It took me a long time to admit this because of my love for this show, but Rory is the one who is out of touch with reality. She is deluded into believing that she’s “self-made” and had never been told “no” until entering the university and work atmosphere. She describes the networking at the launch party as though it is “nefarious” (in Logan’s words), yet most of her opportunities — her education, her internship at a paper, and her relationship with Logan — came about or were strengthened through connections to people in wealthy and powerful positions.

Exhibit B: having an affair

After breaking up with her first love, Dean, and her second boyfriend, Jess, Rory is upset over the fact that Dean is marrying a girl named Lindsay at the young age of 19. Instead of expressing her frustration privately to her friends, as a normal person would do, she harshly and loudly criticizes Lindsay at the town supermarket, blaming her for Dean’s decision to quit college and get a job. She repeatedly diminishes Lindsay’s character by calling her “just Lindsay” and asking her best friend Lane what she even does all day. Rory and Lane then run into Lindsay in the next aisle, who then leaves, justifiably upset.

If you think that’s bad, Rory proceeds to have an affair with Dean while he is still married to Lindsay. When her mother Lorelai finds out, she calls Rory out for her bad behavior, pointing out that she is “the other woman.” Rory expresses resentment for her mother for ruining her first time with Dean, despite having made a poor and hurtful choice. As we would say today, Rory is not a girl’s girl.

If anyone deserves remorse in this situation, it’s Lindsay.

Exhibit c: showing no character growth

In 2016, Rory made her return in Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, and fans were reasonably disappointed by this reboot.

At the start of the original Gilmore Girls series, Rory shows so much promise: she has big dreams of being a journalist, is valedictorian of her high school class, and has endless opportunities. Her downfall really only starts after she graduates high school.

While attending Yale, Rory interns for Logan’s father, Mitchum, and when he tells her that she “doesn’t have it” (it being the “it factor” to make it in the field of journalism), she recklessly lashes out by stealing a yacht. As a result, she is given community service hours. This is a pivotal moment in the show, as it’s the first time we truly realize that Rory isn’t perfect. Rory even drops out of Yale at some point, but criticism aside, she manages to put her life back together and the show concludes with Rory leaving Stars Hollow for an amazing opportunity to write for a presidential campaign.

In A Year in the Life, we would think that Rory would become successful, but it’s quite the opposite. She is a 32-year-old woman back at Stars Hollow with no job, no money, and once again having an affair with Logan, despite having a boyfriend and Logan being engaged.

This was an extremely disappointing turn of events for fans of Gilmore Girls, old and new, as we expected Rory to achieve her dreams of a career in journalism and learn from her past relationship mistakes to strengthen future ones. However, Rory shows an extreme lack in character growth, continuing down a spiral of poor life choices, rather than making the best of her opportunities and prior experiences.

What was the point?

This begs the question: What was the point? Why did Gilmore Girls pose Rory to be a role model for girls to show us that we can be smart, be beautiful, and pursue meaningful relationships (familial, platonic, and romantic) at the same time? Why did Rory teach us to set high standards for ourselves only to let us down in the end? How is it possible that she never learned from her mistakes? Why did Lorelai sacrifice so much as a single teen mother for Rory to throw it all away?

Despite my reproval for Rory’s decisions, Gilmore Girls is still my favorite show because I chose to take away the good from it. I feel comfort and nostalgia every time I hear Carole King’s “Where You Lead I Will Follow” in the intro, and I see parts of myself in Rory — her close relationship with her mother, unapologetic passion for reading and writing, and belief in a big future for herself.

But if you’re watching Gilmore Girls for a role model, look elsewhere. Rory Gilmore is no longer my role model, and she shouldn’t be yours either.

Sahana is a student at Rutgers University studying Psychology and English. She is an avid reader and hopes to publish her own book one day! Follow her bookstagram @readwithsv