*EDITOR’S NOTE: This article contains spoilers from “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life”
When “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life” was announced, fans rejoiced at the reunion of the beloved mother-daughter duo. It was a show that demonstrated the depth, beauty, and complexity of female relationships with their fascinating, multi-dimensional characters.
“Gilmore Girls” centered on the unbreakable bond between teenage mother Lorelai and her daughter Rory, but the show also featured the evolution of female relationships from Lorelai’s fractured interactions with her mother, Emily; to Paris and Rory’s transition from high school rivals to college best friends.
The women-oriented show obviously struck a chord with a female audience. According to Vox, “Gilmore Girls” consistently ranked first in its time slot when it aired on television among women ages 18 to 25.
There are many odes to feminism and the strength of the female spirit in the popular show. Here are just a few of our favorites:
The show celebrates Lorelai’s single motherhood
When Lorelai made the difficult decision to reject her parents’ desires for her to marry Christopher at the age of 16, Lorelai took Rory, left home, and got a job at an inn where she worked her way up to becoming the manager.
She eventually opens her own business, making the decision to expand it in “A Year in the Life.” While her traditionally conservative mother, Emily, initially looked down on Lorelai’s unconventional choices, she later acknowledges admiration for her daughter’s independence, drunkenly comparing her to a “kayak” in one rare, sweet moment in the final season.
While Lorelai had romantic relationships, the show devoted more time to Lorelai’s fierce loyalty to her daughter.
In “A Year in the Life,” Christopher admitted to Rory that Lorelai finally can get married now that her job as Rory’s mom is done. This leads to their journey ending full-circle as Rory follows her mother’s footsteps as a potential single mother at the end of the Netflix special.
There is no “weak” female character
In the New York Daily News, Eric Mink wrote: “In the small-town-Connecticut universe created by executive producer Amy Sherman-Palladino, women rule.”
In the beginning, Lorelai names her daughter, Rory, after herself because she wonders why women never name their daughters after themselves like men do.
Korean-American Lane rebels against her mother’s wishes to become a rock drummer. Lorelai proposes to Luke in the Season 5 finale. Paris Gellar unapologetically chases after every goal she sets for herself. Rory displays strength when she chases her goals to attend Yale, become a reporter, and rejects Logan’s marriage proposal at the end of Season 7 to pursue her professional dreams.
Emily Gilmore, who is the most traditional of the characters, is always outspoken in the show. But “A Year in the Life” later closes her journey by allowing her to follow in the footsteps of Lorelai and Rory by becoming her own person. Without her husband, she finally buys her own house, volunteers at a museum in her free time, and ends nights with a glass of wine by herself. Emily’s journey ends on a “Lorelai” moment.
The show does not revolve around romance
While the show’s plotlines heavily featured romance, the show did not revolve around it. At the end of Season 7, neither Lorelai nor Rory’s relationships statuses are sealed, and 10 years later, “A Year in the Life” does not end with a definitive man for Rory.
While we all cheered for different men in the lives of Lorelai and Rory (Luke and Jess, for me!), the show’s strength relied on the fact that the relationship between Lorelai and Rory came first: It begins and ends with them sitting in Luke’s diner in the original show and them sitting on the steps of the gazebo in the Netflix special ten years later.
Indeed, “Gilmore Girls” and “A Year in the Life” celebrate the journey of the “independent woman.” We can always thank “Gilmore Girls” for depicting that the “mother-daughter” bond can, in fact, be cool.
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