In my slightly less-than-enviable DVD collection I have a nice variety of shows (and some movies) that aired or were released in the ballpark of a decade ago. Seeing how I have limited access to current U.S. pop-culture in real-time (I am doing my catch-up, so watch for some last-season musings), I do oft enjoy doing frequent re-watches of these much-loved media gone past.
Sometimes I forget how it is still relevant, especially if you are willing to watch and mull it over through various points of view.
The Gilmore Girls, created and written by Daniel Palladino and Amy Sherman-Palladino was well known for its witty and quick-paced dialogue. It was well praised for its portrayal of single mom Lorelei Gilmore and her teenage daughter, Lorelei “Rory” Gilmore. It was mostly a clever depiction of their lives, centered mostly in the fictional town of Stars Hollow, Connecticut, just outside of Hartford.
More than that, though, the show was an incredibly astute look into the dynamics between three generations of mothers and daughters. Not just of Lorelei and Rory, of which I was able to incredibly relate. Naturally, as a single mother I reached out and embraced Lorelei as someone I could relate to and who I wanted to like, flaws and all. I wanted to raise a kid as wonderful as Rory, someone even as occasionally broken as Rory, but who was able to work through it, and who was able to come to a mother as someone she trusted for help.
The Gilmore Girls also portrayed a relationship between Lorelei and her own mother, Emily. A relationship of brokenness and loss. Emily and Lorelei, both hurting from the years of the cavity that was not having each other, mostly out of necessity — that point can’t be argued — but both not yet willing to admit it at the series’ inception.
The brilliance of the Gilmore Girls was that it was able to tell stories of women and show the way that they lived lives that yes, involved men, but didn’t center on them. It focused on the ways that women in familial settings interacted with and learned to grown up around and together. It demonstrated that there are different kinds of family, and that wounds can be healed, ripped open, licked clean, and healed again.
Was it a perfect representation? No. I think that as the show went on the fan insistence that Lorelei find her One True Love 4-Evah influenced the way the series took its turns. I think that fans wanted Rory to do the same. I think that when Sherman-Palladino left the show in the seventh and final season that there was a rush to wrap things up, and that the primary characters (some of the most intensely independent women) were treated poorly and the men in the principal roles were portrayed unfairly in order to tie up those ends. There are also some incredible issues of race and class to be examined that exist in the primary framework of the show’s concept that just can not be ignored, including the idea of the famous Interchangeable Asian Person.
But the Gilmore Girls gave me a bit of relevant pop culture that I was able to cling to during some important moments in my life. The flaws and cracks in mirror were some of my own as well as that of the writers’. It was refreshing to realize that I was not the only person in the world going through what I was, even if it was only to know that it was in the sense that it was a vague pop-culture connection.