I have been so busy being preoccupied with, you know, the world coming to an end, that I neglected to talk to you about the Gilmore Girls revival. If you haven’t seen it yet, I may be about to do some mild spoilering, so hold onto your butts. I have thoughts that I just cannot hold inside. Jerry, I’m BUSTING! (Two 90s references right off the bat, for some reason. UH DOUBLE UP UH UH! Oops, there’s another one. My inner Gilmore is showing itself).
Because the interwebs have already chewed up most angles (Emily turns out to be the best Gilmore, Jess OF ALL PEOPLE turns out to be among the most likable, Logan’s rich douchey steampunk friend group is truly insufferable, etc.), I shall spare you my play-by-play although trust me it’s on the tip of my tongue and I pity the foo’ who I corner at an upcoming social gathering because odds are high that I will get into it, all of it.
The thing that bothered me the most about the Gilmore Girls revival is that it suffered from a thing I call Takedown of Uppity Ladies (TOUL). This is when a tv show gives us smart, witty, confident women and then the writers do everything they can do to bring them low. To teach them a lesson for thinking they are so smart. And, by extension I suppose, teach us a lesson too. Let me give you a prime example of TOUL: Sex and the City. Four confident women, successful in their careers, sexually liberated, in control! But, not so fast. Over the course of the six seasons, each woman learns that everything she defined about herself was wrong, because ladies, pshht, what do we know? Independent Miranda thought putting herself first in life was the core of who she was? NAH all she needed was to move to Brooklyn, a place she has always despised, and devote her life to caregiving for everyone, including her cheating ass husband, and put herself last. Bless her heart for thinking that she wanted something different; what did she know? What did any of them know? NOTHING, BC LADIES BE DUMB Y’ALL, ESPECIALLY THE SMART ONES. Good thing the writers are here to set them all straight.
This is different than a character having flaws, or a character learning and growing. Leslie Knope learns how to navigate her job, how to deal with being an intense person, how to collaborate better. She is not perfect. But, the writers never try to convince us that she isn’t as smart as she knows she is. Even characters as warped as Liz Lemon or Alicia Florrick get to stumble around making mistakes, but the point of their story arcs isn’t to show us how much they aren’t as accomplished as they know themselves to be.
Which brings me back to the ladies on the Gilmore Girls. We loved Lorelai because she was scrappy and opinionated and she dumped her rich parents to work her way up to being her own boss in her own career. Except, it turns out, none of those things. None of her coworkers want to work with her anymore, apparently, and she doesn’t know anything about anything in her life: how should she save her business? Is she happy with the love of her life? Does she want to have a baby? Does she want to go hiking? NOTHING SHE KNOWS NOTHING. Plus, she’s mean. She is mean to the other Wild ladies. She fat shames at the pool. The cool mom is, we find out, so deeply uncool.
And then there’s Rory. Ok, sure, she was a little Special Snowflakey as a teen, and also a little lost in a teenagery way, but we rooted for her because she was a brainiac- at least, book smart, and working on the other kinds of smart. All the nerdy ladies in the audience loved that she read books and thought school was important ansd wanted to get a great education. Except now none of it has born any fruit. She is terribly spolied (just expecting her fam to put her up indefinitely), and doesn’t seem to know anything about her career (showing up to a job meeting with no pitch ideas?), and is rude to the town that she used to love so much (“I’M NOT BACK!”), and is still sleeping with LOGAN just because she doesn’t know what else to do.
And do not get me started about how Paris is left to pathetically have a meltdown about a high school boyfriend and how Lane is trapped in a marriage to a man who refers to their children as having “Korean vitriol” because my NOPES are so giant that you will surely be crushed by the weight of them as they fall out of my mouth.
If you would have said that a thing I would see in the Gilmore Girls revival was misogyny, I would not have believed it. This show is about women who love each other, love their town, and for all their misadventures, are smart and competent. We want them to continue to be smart and competent. My question is: why weren’t they allowed to be? It felt like the writers were trying to punish them for something. And by taking them down a notch, I felt diminished as well.
PS EMILY WAS GREAT THO