Uplifting, relatable, a cult classic, there’s no show quite as lovable as the charming, American comedy-drama series that is ‘Gilmore Girls’. Running for seven seasons from 2000-2007, this series focuses on the close relationship between fun, perky single mother in her thirties, Lorelai Gilmore, and her intellectual teen daughter, Rory. They’re the mother-daughter slash best-friend dynamic duo that you can’t help but fall in love with. Whilst they’re quirky and unique characters, they’re also independent, head-strong, ambitious young women trying to make their way in the world and pursue their dreams. But whilst family connections and female relationships are at the core of this show, this series also emphasises the importance of friendships and community, as well as issues of social class, romance, education, ambition, and dealing with failure and setbacks.
As Lorelai and Rory grow as characters, it feels as though we grow alongside them, and it’s comforting to know that these characters experience the same struggles as any other women. Having left home whilst pregnant with Rory at 16 to build a life for herself outside of her parents’ upper-class lifestyle, Lorelai is keen not to let Rory make the same mistakes as she did in her teens, such as falling for boys, as they are both focused on getting her into an Ivy League college. Lorelai eventually has to come face-to-face with her past and address the complex relationship she has with her parents, such as with her mother Emily; contrasting mother-daughter relationships becomes an underlying theme of the show, further emphasising its cross-generational appeal.
But ‘Gilmore Girls’ can appear problematic when rewatching it years after its release. For example, audiences might notice how the show seems to lack LGBTQ+ representation and ethnically diverse characters, other than Rory’s best friend, Lane Kim, who comes from a very strict, religious Korean family. ‘Gilmore Girls’ does, however, follow Lane’s love life while also showing the dynamics of the relationship she has with her own strict and protective mother, Mrs. Kim.
Over the years, the audience’s opinions about characters might also have changed. Rory can certainly be seen, at first, as a healthy role model for young women, but upon rewatching ‘Gilmore Girls’, audiences may see how Rory makes questionable choices later within the show that seem to compromise who she is as a character. Perhaps this is from the pressure she puts on herself to succeed, but one can’t help but be disappointed by Rory’s sudden immaturity and reckless behaviour, as the determined young woman we once knew begins to crumble under the pressures and responsibilities of adult life. It’s disheartening to see her give up on some of her dreams so easily, and how this impacts her relationship with Lorelai.
One could say, however, this show couldn’t offer positive, realistic representations of women if their characters didn’t make mistakes and have their imperfections. Yet, after rewatching the show, one’s loyalties might change in favour of a better role model than Rory Gilmore, as her best friend Lane, for example, continues to pursue her passion for rock music without compromising who she is for her unsupportive family.
Overall, though problematic in some ways now as a television series, the issues ‘Gilmore Girls’ explores are what allows it to continue to be so relatable and empowering for women today. Its witty dialogue and pop culture references are why it is still so well-loved and appealing to modern audiences, and this is one reason why the characters were brought back to life in 2016 in Netflix’s ‘Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life’. It’s a series that you can’t help but come back to because, as a woman watching this show, you truly feel the support that the characters have for each other. But most importantly, you feel as though you’re a part of their family and that you too can be a Gilmore Girl.