Confession: I consume a vast amount of (bad) mainstream media
on a daily basis on the side, ranging from free movies streaming on Amazon Prime and popular YouTube videos, to news that Facebook’s algorithms think will pique my interest.
After people realize this about me, they’re often surprised to hear that I don’t keep up with TV shows. But it’s true: I find TV shows too much of a time investment to watch, and end up standing by whenever they come up in conversation because I don’t have insight to offer that’s not just regurgitated from a news article. (However, it is quite amusing to make friends feel like they’ve failed to keep up on their shows when I point out that even I knew what happened in the season finale.)
It’s only been in the more recent months that I’ve begun making my way through the vast collection of TV shows available on Netflix: It took me six months to finish Friends, and about the same length of time to complete Gilmore Girls.
Yes, I know it’s blasphemy. Here’s a moment for you to lampoon me for my incredibly belated following of pop culture.
…and now the moment’s over.
Many of my friends watched Gilmore Girls when they were growing up. As impressionable middle schoolers, they watched Rory Gilmore navigate the halls of Yale, manage her boyfriend dilemmas, maintain her relationship with her grandparents, and return home to visit her mother in Stars Hollow. She was smart but studious, kind but selfish, and capable but immature.
It wasn’t just Rory though — it’s difficult to find a flat character among the show’s main cast of characters. Of course, as with any TV show, there were stereotyped supporting characters who helped create minor plot points, but Gilmore Girls had an otherwise shockingly good track record of writing nuanced characters who felt real — particularly because each and every character was always made to face their wrongs and redeem themselves.
I don’t remember the conversations my friends had about Gilmore Girls when they were younger, but for me to think back — it’s not difficult to understand why the show did well. Rory was a strong, young female protagonist played by an actress of the fitting, approximate age; dressed in a style that suited her age on the show and that of her potential audience; and behaved in manners that weren’t perfect, but admirable because she often returned to right her wrongs.
Many people have criticized Rory for behaving selfishly, and others criticize her mother, Lorelai, for being immature — and I don’t disagree with them. Gilmore Girls is far from being a perfect TV show, but its better angles have redeemed its low points well enough that even I, a person who hates investing time into TV shows, have made it through all seven seasons.
(Do I need to include a spoiler alert for a TV show that aired nine years ago — when Obama first ran for president?) Either way, consider yourselves warned.
As a college senior nearing her impending graduation, watching Rory prepare to graduate college in the final (admittedly lackluster) season of Gilmore Girls was so incredibly poignant.
Although the quality of the writing and the production fell in this final season (I blame the show’s change of hands), I found myself appreciating more and more my ability to identify with Rory.
Before graduating from Yale, Rory sent out job applications and resumes, sought out mentors for informational interviews, packed up her apartment, figured out where she and her boyfriend stood in their relationship; debated and re-debated over every opportunity that arose — all things that I had to do, and have to do myself.
It’s not very intellectual or academic to commend a TV show for tugging on your heartstrings, but when you spend day in and day out remembering which meeting you have to attend next or how many more pages of close reading you have to write, it’s nice to be able to take a break and check in with your own emotions, especially when everything is changing all so quickly.
The final season of Gilmore Girls did drag at points, but I’m still sad to see it go (out of my watch list). Slice of life shows are hard to find nowadays, and sometimes that little slice is the precise comfort food a person needs.