Lorelai Gilmore – Feminist Icon

Gilmore Girls (WB) | The Hollywood Reporter

Warning – this essay is full of spoilers

Before the spring of 2015, Gilmore Girls, to me, was just the show that ran after Full House on ABC Family. I never really thought much about it and based on its title, I assumed it was just another silly drama the channel offered, similar to Secret Life of the American Teenager. This all changed when I visited my family during the spring break of my sophomore year of college.

Upon my arrival in my surrogate hometown, my mom picked me up from the airport and we made our way to every Texan’s first stop when returning to Texas, Whataburger. When I got into my mom’s car she was watching a show on her phone. She continued to listen as she took me through the drive thru (don’t try this at home). It was Gilmore Girls. She was completely and utterly obsessed, to say the least. Little did I know how quickly her obsession would spread to me.

We spent the majority of my spring break in our media room watching the lives of Lorelai, and Rory unfold (including Rory’s hottest boyfriend of the series, Jess). As we progressed further and further into the show, I realized that it was more than just some television “chick flick”, in fact, it was incredibly feminist.

On Gilmore Girls, Lorelai is a single mother extraordinaire to Rory and reveals her strong feminist attitude early in the show. She was a teen mother who ran away from home to raise her daughter the way she wanted to, without her old money parent’s help. She worked her way up the hotel management ladder, starting as a maid and eventually owning her own inn with her best friend, Sookie.

During the first season, Rory’s Harvard dreams cause Lorelai to reopen communication with her parents in order to afford the exclusive private school, Chilton, that will better help Rory reach Harvard. Lorelai has not had much contact with her parents since she ran away from home. Admitting to her parents that she needs help is a huge sacrifice for Rory but her dreams are incredibly important to Lorelai. She has strived to raise a daughter as independent as herself.

Also in the first season, Rory begins to date the new-to-town cutie, Dean. Lorelai and Rory invite Dean to their weekly Friday movie night. They decide to watch a sitcom from the 1950s full of strict gender roles. Lorelai and Rory laugh at how silly and outdated the characters’ lines and attitudes are. Dean doesn’t understand why they are so against traditional gender norms so the women cook up a scheme to help him understand why they are harmful.

The next time Dean comes over to their house, Rory is dressed like the stereotypical pre-Feminine Mystique housewife — pearls and all. She acts like the women in the show they watched causing Dean to become confused and upset. He quickly learns how he was wrong and that women do not need to fit traditional gender roles to be women.

The feminist ideals that Lorelai has instilled within Rory come up again and again throughout the show. Rory works hard in school and never lets any of her boyfriends get in the way of her dreams. Despite her drive, she is not immune to the promise of a comfortable live with Logan, she needs her old friends to help her find herself again. She gets into Yale and proudly displays her Pro Choice poster in the living room she shares with the wonderful and equally feminist, Paris Geller. Rory also makes her career her number one priority and turns down Logan’s marriage proposal to become a journalist on Obama’s first campaign. Although I am not a huge fan of the character of Rory (or April, especially April), I am inspired by her drive to accomplish her goals and her understanding that if a boy isn’t going to support me and help me become my best self, he isn’t worth my dreams.

My spring break quickly reached its end and it was time for me to go back to school. I had several seasons left and I couldn’t wait to procrastinate doing my homework by watching more episodes. I was glad to have learned that Gilmore Girls is more than just a filler show, it supports my feminist ideals. This show celebrates independent women and women who are aren’t afraid to chase their dreams. The show inspired me to chase my dreams and I can’t wait for its return and conclusion this fall on Netflix.

Contributor-Photo-Hannah-Nobbe
Hannah Nobbe : Self-proclaimed Riot Grrl with an affinity for lipstick, spaghetti, and all things velvet
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