There’s an article on Vice that states, “Rory from Gilmore Girls is Actually the Worst.” The article goes on to explain all the ways that Rory “f**ing sucks,” from being a bad daughter, her poor taste in books, how one critical comment made her drop out of Yale, and her choices with love, particularly sleeping with Dean and having relationships with men who hurt her. They call her the “poster child of white privilege.”
In some ways, they’re not wrong. But are also blatantly wrong. Many of these “issues” are things we could all experience. Rory made mistakes growing up. She wasn’t always nice to her mom. She was sometimes petty. She got carried away in her romances, unexperienced and hormonal. It’s the reality of being a teenager and that, to me, is what made the show relatable. That neither Rory nor Lorelai were infallible.
But fast forward 9 years, I found myself more than critical of Rory in present day. The entire Rory plot line (minus the Fall episode) is the thing I dislike the most about the whole revival of Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. Not only did it not feel like an authentic storyline, which made many scenes fall flat for Alexis Bledel, but also it felt stagnant and repetitive. We’d been there, done that, and the “problems” Rory faced were of her own making. Even the whole Logan / Rory / Paul thing felt repetitive to me. Hadn’t we already seen Rory have an affair with a man currently in a relationship? And what does it say that she’s also in a relationship while this is going on? That wasn’t comic relief, that was depressing.
We were led to believe that Rory would be in a crisis in her career, that the field of journalism was shifting under her feet, with online journalism usurping the traditional newspaper and magazine world she expected to be entering. But that’s not what we got. What we got was Rory expecting the world to open up for her, instead of making it happen for herself. Gone was the girl who took her own initiative.
When we left Rory in Season 7, she was off to cover the campaign trail for Obama. While I can understand that Amy Sherman-Palladino and Dan Palladino pretty much ignored that part of her storyline, it became apparent that Rory Gilmore was really only known for a handful of stories in the years since we’ve seen her. We are told that she’s off chasing down stories, but we don’t see it.
As a writer by trade myself, I can tell you that whether you’re writing for a publication or for yourself, the work doesn’t land in your lap. As a freelance journalist, you don’t get assigned a topic, you chase one down, you write it, you pitch it. What we saw was Rory floating around, jetting to and from London, never chasing a single story. Never writing. Drinking a lot of scotch. Clearly uninspired by everything and yet completely surprised that nobody wants to hire “Rory Gilmore” the amazing journalist.
In 9 years since leaving Yale, you would think that Rory would have grown out of being “assigned” news topics as she was for the Yale Daily News. That for her to have lived on her own for 9 years, she would have had to overcome “not having what it takes,” as Mitchum had once told her. She would have had to chase her stories and pitch herself effectively.
It felt completely disingenuous to follow her story the way we did. Perhaps we are meant to see Rory Gilmore in a crisis that represents her loss of passion for life, seen in the fact that she isn’t chasing down a single story. But what came across, at least for me, what a girl who seemed spoiled and pretentious, expecting her name to open doors that clearly aren’t opening. I didn’t like it (can you tell?). It was not the Rory we had grown to love, the Rory who pushed the boundaries to make any story entertaining.
Although Rory went through her own journey, in the end becoming inspired to write her own story, Gilmore girls (an idea that I found quite beautiful), it was once again not her idea. It was Jess. Rory’s storylines (both in the original series in later seasons as well as here) always seem to involve someone telling her what to do with her life. I was actually very disappointed that Rory was once again not the master of her own story. It left me feeling that, unless someone told Rory what to do after the book was finished, she’d be right back where she started. Waiting for someone else to tell her what to do.
Amy Sherman-Palladino criticised us fans for only focusing on Rory’s love life. She said each man in her life represented an evolution of her character. If we hold that to be true, Rory hasn’t evolved at all.
Rory Gilmore did not go on a journey. She’s just as stuck as she ever was.
What do you think?