The Rory Gilmore in all of us

I have just watched Gilmore Girls’ revival “Gilmore Girls: A year in the life” and… Okay, who am I kidding? Of course, I binge-watched all 4 episodes in two days right after it was released on Netflix, in November. How could I wait? My relationship with this show is sentimental. It is the first tv show that I have watched regularly and passionately, the first show that introduced me to this magic world. When I was a little girl, I didn’t know the meaning of the word “streaming” and the greatest invention of the modern world (Netflix) wasn’t there to make our life better and our nights shorter. And if you were an Italian kid or a teenager in those years, your only way of approaching the world of tv series was to watch “Italia 1” in the early afternoon (instead of doing your homework). And this show in particular, which was broadcast from 2002 to 2008 as “Una mamma per amica”, immediately caught my attention.

What it is about

For those of you who don’t know it, Gilmore Girls is the story of a teenage daughter, Rory, and her young mother, Lorelai, who live in a small town in Connecticut. What made it special is that it didn’t need drama or big cliffhangers, it was about romance but also about family, friendship, coming of age, acceptance, and all of this in a simple and spontaneous way that made the show look true and familiar. This show taught me for the first time what it means to look forward to the next episode, week after week, to feel connected to a character, to be inspired by her and to see yourself in her…

Yes, I’m talking about her. Rory Gilmore.

Rory Gilmore is a nice girl

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When girls in the 90’s had their Buffy, I had my Rory Gilmore. But, maybe most importantly for those of you who are not interested in my sentimental digressions, I’m writing about her because her character was the most discussed after “A year in the life” came out. All the fans who followed her through her journey from high school to college, up until graduation, have seen her evolution as a girl and a woman. In the first season we see just a shy girl who reads a lot, she’s never talked to a guy, she has big dreams but also big fears. In the last season (before the revival), we leave her as a 24-year girl who has become strong, ambitious, and has set her priorities straight: she is ready to chase her career as a journalist (following Barack Obama’s campaign) and to choose herself over her boyfriend, Logan, after he proposed. This was the Rory we were used to, this was the Rory we were proud of at the end of season 7, because after her journey, all the breakups, the disappointments, the missteps, she was ready. This made sense.

“Rory Gilmore is a monster”

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But as you start watching the first episode, “Winter”, you understand that there’s something wrong. 8 years have passed, and the 32-year-old Rory Gilmore is not what we expected. There is one thing we could be sure about her, despite all her contradictions and flaws: that she was a good girl. And yet, The Washington Post titled Jenny Rogers’ review: “Rory Gilmore is a monster.”

  • She is in a relationship with a totally irrelevant guy, Paul (and this will be a recurring joke in the show) but she cheats on him repeatedly with Logan, who is engaged. (Come on girl, you’ve been there already!)
  • Her professional life is also a mess. She is freelancing but not making a living out of it, she throws away an opportunity of writing for GQ and refuses a job at an online blog because she thinks she’s better than that. She needs Jess to inspire her and suggest writing a book about her life with her mother. Where is the ambitious, independent, driven Rory we used to know?
  • And finally, the big revelation, the “4 words” we were all expecting: she is pregnant. (Total nonsense!)

It’s not like she never made mistakes. We have watched her drop out of Yale for apparently no reason, we have watched her steal a yacht, we have even watched her sleep with her married ex-boyfriend, Dean. Nevertheless, we never doubted that Rory would move forward, that those were just the mistakes of a young girl who was still finding her place in the world. Now, it looks like she is still that girl, but she’s 32 and somehow we feel like she doesn’t have the right to make those mistakes. We wanted to see her with a brilliant career, a nice husband, a bright future before her and we feel disappointed in her.

 

Find your Rory Gilmore

I watched the 4 episodes all over again before writing this (yes, I know, I’m graduating in 2025) because I wanted to rationalise the first sensations that I had about it. At first I was mad, too. But then I understood that maybe, this was right. That maybe, this home-wrecker mess of a Rory Gilmore has something to teach us.

Who said that we must have our life figured out by 32? Who said that we can’t make mistakes after college, because then we must “be adults”? Who said that there is a time limit for making stupid choices, for being irresponsible, for being lost? I think that the authors wanted to show us that her journey isn’t over: she is a great girl, but she’s changed and she needs to work on herself again (that’s why I strongly hope for another season). And what’s wrong with that?

Rory Gilmore has the right to be a mess. We all do.

To be honest, I think there is a Rory Gilmore in all of us, but it’s not that messy part of ourselves that makes us do stupid things, waste opportunities, screw up our own life.

It’s the girl who doesn’t stop exploring herself at some point in her life, the girl who can’t just settle, the girl who’s willing to make mistakes as many times as it takes to become a woman.

So, dear editors of the Washington Post, I still want to be Rory Gilmore.
Just like when I was 10.

Claudia RIzzo

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