Rory the lobster: Insight on her storyline in “A Year in the Life”

Share

This article comes to us from guest writer Justin Scarelli

I know I don’t really have the authority to “defend” anyone, let alone a female – fictional or real. Rory didn’t ask me, or any of us, to defend her, and neither did Amy Sherman-Palladino. I will, instead, offer my insight, based on my own experiences, with how I viewed certain parts of Rory’s storyline in Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life.

Like Rory, I grew up in a small New England Town. Our population was 8,523, slightly smaller than the 9,973 that the sign of Stars Hollow boasted in the pilot. Our town square didn’t have a gazebo, but we had frog jumping contests every summer, and a Miss Small-Town New England competition. Like Rory, my world was a world of books. I wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. And like Rory, I transferred to a prestigious private high school. Sadly, unlike Rory, I did not bump into the tall, handsome Texan known as Jared Padalecki. Rory had dreams of becoming the next Christiane Amanpour, I wanted to be the next Chris Carter, the creator of my beloved show The X-Files. In the finale of Season 7, Rory went off to follow Senator Obama’s campaign. For me, my journey happened at the age of 29, when I left my quaint small town as a big fish, touching down in Los Angeles as a very, very tiny minnow in a somewhat smoggy pond.

Ironically, my first job in LA was a Tour Guide for Warner Bros. Studios. For three two-hour tours a day, five days a week, for a year and a half, I got to show guests around the studio backlot. I walked around Midwest Street, forever etched in my mind as Stars Hollow (though it has been many, many other fictional towns), noticing the painted bricks on the sidewalk, the ceiling-less practical sets of Doose’s Market and Luke’s. I walked people through the exterior of Lorelai’s house and out through Sookie’s house, as they shared the same walls. I enjoyed walking guests through Babette and Morey’s kitchen, noticing how it was built-to-scale for Sally Struthers and her 4’11” frame. I stood on the roof, looking down at the town square, as Rory, Logan and the Life and Death Brigade did in the “Fall” episode of the revival. My Los Angeles education, for all intents and purposes, began in Stars Hollow.

Like Rory, I did not want to be back with the other thirty-somethings in my town. Or the ones who had never left. I was on to bigger and better things, I thought. But that idealism slowly faded as I found myself in job after job that got me seemingly no closer to my goal of sitting around a table with other writers, breaking stories and discussing character. Like Rory, I felt my dream lose a bit of its color, faded by the reality that most of the time it isn’t about talent, it’s about who you know. I sat in rooms with twenty year-olds who had created the latest app or gadget or viral video craze, and I was supposed to work for them. What had happened to me, I wondered. How did I end up in the place I thought I needed to be, only to feel only more removed from what I wanted to do?

Some of the disappointed feelings we have towards the series and revival, is that we want Rory to be the Every-girl. But she isn’t an Every-girl, she is, in fact, as the title suggests: A Gilmore Girl. Although Rory did not grow up in the confines of the Gilmore manse, she did indeed enjoy a life of privilege. She was raised by a single mom, yes, but she also was the recipient of the full court-press Hillary Clinton “it takes a village” proposal. Rory had, and has, a charmed life, regardless of the explanation or logic of how she was able to afford those trans-continental flights. And she is finding out that her charmed existence  -through Stars Hollow, Chilton, Yale, and Logan’s flat and bed when Odette isn’t in town – does not always extend to the real world.

Amy Sherman-Palladino is not trolling us, or systematically destroying Rory, or the image of Rory that some of has have, and have projected onto her. She is simply stating the story, and the character, as they are. Life is a mirror, it’s messy, and it’s complicated. We were always watching a show about a mother and daughter who both talked fast, one of whom threw away her supposed privilege, and the other ultimately embraced parts of it.

Like a lot of us, those in our early thirties, and those who are younger, grew up in a world where we were told it was our proverbial oyster. When that reality is turned on its head, it can sometimes lead to inappropriate life choices. Rory slept with Dean, a married man, stole a yacht with Logan after his father, though he didn’t have to be as callous, basically told Rory the real world wouldn’t be handed to her on a platter, no matter if it was silver or Betty Boop-related or covered with Pop-Tarts and an apple for nutrition. These may have seemed out-of-character for the audience, and for Alexis Bledel, but I see them as having always been brewing underneath the surface of Rory’s well-read and potentially ageless face.

In the revival, Rory is still at odds with that world view. She is disdainful of a job that is beneath her, then when it’s her only option, she doesn’t even bother to come prepared, instead spending all of her attention on making sure she has her lucky dress. She’s focused on prestige, an unhealthy fixation with Conde Nast the company, who keeps pushing the meeting and Rory views as a personal offense. I empathize with this. Too many times, I have reached out to those in the entertainment industry, either through cold calls or references from a connection, wanting them to see me as who I believe I am, and what I have to offer. The likely result of these meetings or phone calls is that perhaps I did not grab their attention, they had another individual in mind, or I was perhaps not yet ready. But it can start to feel altogether painful and personal. This is a mistake, because it keeps you barking up a particular tree for status’ sake. It blocks you from your ultimate purpose, why you fell in love with what you are pursuing to begin with.

006_gilmoregirls_101_spr_04145r

I lost my job over the summer. I’m not terribly upset over it, but it does bring into clear view the lack of finances, how expensive it is to live in a city like Los Angeles, the feeling of careening headfirst into an early grave and being buried alive in failure and obscurity. Everything I know about life and my situation is turned on its head. Like Rory, I’ve been so focused on the ladder, on the idea of arriving, that I’ve missed perhaps the whole point.

This is where I find some disagreement with those who may have been upset that Rory needed some prodding (from a man, no less) in order to come up with the idea to write a book about her life. Ideas are not proprietary. They need inspiration to grow. They don’t wait around in a file cabinet or Notes app on your phone. They may be written down, but if you do nothing to decipher their meaning or put in the actual work, they may find another individual to play with.

Ideas build from clues, from your experiences, from those close to you. For example, you might be in a pitch meeting and all your proposed ideas are falling flat and you blurt out “a show about a mother and daughter that are more like friends” without knowing where that statement will take you until you remember that trip you took with your husband to a small New England town and the lightbulb goes off. It became the story you were supposed to write. Of, you might find yourself floundering, pursuing a book idea with a completely unstable individual, working at your small New England town’s newspaper when a close friend (and former romantic partner) sits down and nudges you in the direction of what’s right in front of you. The idea of Rory the author was always there, buried beneath her own desires and the ill-conceived partnership and entree-pilfering with Naomi Shropshire.

I had an experience in my life, about a decade ago, that was both revealing and inspiring. I was asked to help direct a couple film skits that were being created by a teen center in more rural New Hampshire. I jumped at the chance, and that experience, and the teens, helped me to re-focus on why I fell in love with writing and creating in the first place.  So when Jess sparked the idea in Rory’s head, I was on board completely. And I currently find myself visiting my small, New England town, with that same voice in the back of my head, dressed as Milo Ventimiglia insisting, “I know what you should write about.”

To that end, I watched a clip on the ever-giving Internet, explaining how a lobster’s shell is stagnant, and that the crustacean’s cue for growth into shedding the old and building a new shell can be boiled down, pardon the expression, to the feeling of being uncomfortable. How can we apply this to Rory, you ask? In “Fall,” she gives Logan’s key back to him, and ends their relationship. You may argue that it sure took Rory long enough to realize that Logan can’t rescue her anymore, but it’s easy to pass judgment on our fictional, idealized characters. At least she arrived there. Though less-enthused for her one night-stand with the Wookie in “Spring,” it was yet another moment for Rory to examine her life and her choices, for her to acknowledge uncomfortable failure, and rebuild. The layered conversation she has with her father comes from a more authentic place of wanting to learn, to grow. That she tells Lorelai those pregnant final four words is the continuation of Rory’s growth. Whether she decides to tell Logan (the most likely candidate), decides to keep the child, or perhaps make the decision only a woman can make about her body, or to carry to term and give the baby up for adoption, Rory’s story is really just beginning.

final-four-words-gilmore-girls

Gilmore Girls was not written by the Warner Bros. or Netflix, and Rory’s book will not be written by Jess, hunkering down at a laptop in Richard Gilmore’s study.  For perhaps the first time, we are seeing Rory take some autonomous steps that will hopefully and potentially humble her, where she is not a clone of her mother’s experiences, not a whale or a mouse or whatever martini-drunk Naomi insists, but her own lobster, her own person. For that reason alone, I could see some continuation of the Gilmore Girls saga.

Share

20 thoughts on “Rory the lobster: Insight on her storyline in “A Year in the Life”

  • December 8, 2016 at 10:27 am
    Permalink

    ASP character assassinated our Beloved Logan not Rory made her looks so innocent and she was not with the bullshit comparison to Christopher

    Reply
    • December 8, 2016 at 11:02 am
      Permalink

      ASP created Logan and she isn’t the one who made him so redeemable. She simply “reset” the characters to where she left them at the end of Season 6 (and aged them some) and I’m damn glad she did so. They’re much more interesting, much deeper, more complex people than those we saw in Season 7.

      Logan in GG:AYITL is exactly who I would have expected him to be had Season 7 never happened. Pretty much all of the characters are, or at least they start that way in “Winter”.

      Reply
  • December 8, 2016 at 10:44 am
    Permalink

    Really great article, Justin! Very interesting and accurate, I think, insight!

    Reply
  • December 8, 2016 at 10:55 am
    Permalink

    That’s all well and good, but it doesn’t change the fact that ASP has turned Rory into a completely unlovable character. In 2000 the world needed a new type of female character. There were basically three archetypes, the bold, vivacious, precocious leader, the goofy sidekick, and the chick who exists solely for the purposes of the male lead.

    Rory was something completely different. It was thrilling for me (and I’m sure many others) to see her story unfold. Now that character is dead and I find that terribly disappointing. At this point she has no redeeming qualities. At best she has become a soap opera character – we don’t actually root for her but we are curious to see what happens next. It is one thing to knock her off of her pedestal, it is another thing to bury her to the point that she is closer to a monster than a role model.

    If they want to fast-forward 5-10 years then fine. I have no desire to watch her collapse into depression, alcoholism, or whatever and watch Luke and Lorelai raise the baby. It just isn’t entertaining. This is the corner ASP has painted herself into.

    Reply
  • December 8, 2016 at 11:13 am
    Permalink

    “That’s all well and good, but it doesn’t change the fact that ASP has turned Rory into a completely unlovable character.”

    I couldn’t disagree more and I am fascinated by the myriad of reactions to the revival.

    First, Rory’s flaws were obvious throughout the original series. If she was on a pedestal, viewers put her there at the time by ignoring the same flaws they’re asked to ignore today. She was always self-absorbed, a bit entitled, privileged, and a little bit selfish. She may have worked hard, but we were given lots of reasons to doubt that the praise that she always received, the image that other characters had of her as a perfect angel/princess, wasn’t fully deserved.

    Second, she’s not “unlovable” any more than your best friend, sister, or cousin is unlovable. She is flawed, certainly, but so are we all. A monster? Really? Have you known anybody in your life who hasn’t made bad decisions — decisions that hurt others? Have YOU never made such a choice? Ever?

    I see nothing in the ending that suggests that Rory is on the verge of collapsing “into depression, alcoholism, or whatever”. If anything, she is on the verge of finding herself and her strengths. She finally has something to focus on that isn’t all about HER.

    Reply
  • December 8, 2016 at 11:41 am
    Permalink

    * No, I don’t know anyone who has wrecked two different families. It doesn’t happen in the real world.
    * No, I don’t know someone who is so inept as to fall asleep during a meeting or completely tank an interview. Certainly not by their 30s. These are signs of a person who isn’t just flawed but inept.
    * No, people this narcissistic don’t end up with friends. They end up alone. Frankly there is no justification for why any of these other characters want anything to do with her. Not after 10 years of mooching and unreciprocated friendship.
    * Drinking scotch for lunch isn’t a good look. It rarely ends well. The show has always had a cavalier attitude towards drinking (how about Emily’s DUI which was completely swept under the rug?) but this takes things to another level.

    Could she be redeemed? Yes, but it would require drastic measures. She basically needs to give up everything she thought she had. Who wants to watch that?

    Reply
  • December 8, 2016 at 12:04 pm
    Permalink

    One comment I had about Rory during the revival episodes, is that she never was seen reading a book. I found this sad.

    Reply
  • December 8, 2016 at 12:29 pm
    Permalink

    I have many opinions and I haven’t been able to put them on paper yet (let alone write them in english which is not my mother tongue). But when she was given that article about lines, I truly thought she was going to turn it into a masterpiece just as she did when she was given that parking lot story by Paris in Chilton. It was dissappointing for me. We’ve seen what she’s capable of and it got lost somewhere.

    Reply
  • December 8, 2016 at 12:51 pm
    Permalink

    ASP took away every good quality there was about Rory (except her pretty face, which is only credit to Alexis Bledel) and made her unlikeable in just about every way. She’s terribly inconsiderate of her boyfriend of two years, she’s inconsiderate of the girl that Logan is engaged to, she’s inconsiderate of her mom’s feelings about a book that would focus largely on her, she’s inconsiderate to Lane, who seems to function as Rory’s sounding board far more than a character that actually has her own storyline, and she’s inconsiderate to every person (except her mom) that she has boxes shipped to. She’s incredibly naive, unprepared, and lazy for the career she’s been working toward/had for 16 years.

    And I’d be okay with these flaws if they had some sort of reflection and resolution, and honestly what we do get is too little and too late. She doesn’t realize that the reason journalism wasn’t working out for her, was because she couldn’t be bothered to put in the hard work, or show up to interviews prepared, and honestly a career as a nonfiction writer is not going to be without the same kind of struggles. She will still have to pitch book ideas to publishers, she will still have to do things to promote and edit that aren’t going to be as much fun as writing. And what is she going to do when the book is done? If she couldn’t tell SandeeSays what stuff she wanted to write articles about and Jess had to fully supply the idea for this book, how are we supposed to believe that Rory’s creativity is suddenly going appear in leaps and bounds when we weren’t shown a lick of it in the revival?

    As far as her personal life, Lorelai is the closest we get to someone criticizing her romantic life, but it’s seriously not enough, especially since Rory brushes it off and doesn’t make any sign of truly feeling guilty about any of it. She can’t even bother to break up with Paul despite wanting to do so for an entire year (again showing how little effort she’s willing to put forward in her life) and only ends things with Logan when the arrangement is not as easy, not because she’s feeling guilty about what she is doing. And not that I’m against one night stands, but what the eff is Rory doing by sleeping with a costumed guy at what seems like relatively early in the the evening, and seeming relatively sober while she has a mother effing boyfriend. This just sounds so out of character for most people, but especially for Rory.

    And the resolution we got for Rory’s storyline could have been okay, if Paul didn’t exist, if we actually saw Rory being a good journalist and just being bored with it, if she was working a paying job while writing this book, if she came up with the actual topic for the book on her own, and/or if her and Logan had accidentally stumbled into a few hook ups vs. a sociopathic affair.

    I know Rory was always a flawed character, but she rose above most of the flaws and that’s what I appreciated about her character.

    Reply
    • December 9, 2016 at 9:29 am
      Permalink

      Very well said. You it the nail on the head perfectly.

      Reply
  • December 8, 2016 at 2:31 pm
    Permalink

    Thanks for such a well written and interesting article. Personally, I’ve always loved Rory and I actually find it sad that people seem to have such a strong hatred for her. Don’t get me wrong, I believe everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but as one of the main characters, it surprises me just how unloved she is. I don’t think she’s perfect, but I like that she’s human and makes mistakes like we all do at times. Yeah I wasn’t pleased about the affair with Logan, but was I surprised by it? Not really. Can we also remember it was Logan who was engaged and I’m not saying that makes it his fault, but why does everyone seem to fully blame Rory? I believe some of the mistakes she made during these episodes, were just a way of showing how lost she was. Things hadn’t turned out the way she had hoped they would so she was struggling with all aspects of her life. Is that ‘normal’ in your 30s? Yeah, why not? It takes some people a long time to get on the right path and find the right career.
    Anyway, as I said, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. It was just nice to finally read something that wasn’t being so negative towards Rory. People do make mistakes, that’s life.

    Reply
  • December 8, 2016 at 3:18 pm
    Permalink

    Wow, so much hate! Rory’s not a murderer, mean or even…rude to anyone. Any faults she has just affect her, really. Does that make her so bad? I mean, how likeable are you on any given day? I know I’m not always. Maybe we’re all disappointed because we had high hopes for Rory, but that’s why she’s in the dumps because she had huge expectations, too. Thank god she’s human like the rest of us and doesn’t have all the answers. That’s more interesting and relatable to me. This doesn’t mean that she won’t find her way to fulfillment of some kind. Like Justin finds in his article/life, the path you set yourself on might not lead you where you want to go–you may struggle and find there’s another way. Actually, that’s what happens to Lorelai. She tries to go “Wild” but is never able to get on the officially marked path. Instead, she finds her own way ’round the back which enables her to figure things out herself. So give Rory a break and be thankful that because her journey hasn’t finished, there’s more story hopefully for ASP to tell (hello, Netflix?).

    Reply
    • December 8, 2016 at 8:05 pm
      Permalink

      I was willing to go along with it to a point, but I’ve given up. The qualities that once made her compelling are long gone. What’s to like?

      Reply
  • December 8, 2016 at 11:09 pm
    Permalink

    Phenomenal article with wonderful insights! This helped a lot in the shaping of my reaction after seeing the new episodes. I had expected better for Rory, but I am glad to read positivity in perspective for her situation.

    Reply
  • December 9, 2016 at 6:22 am
    Permalink

    Much like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz she is nudged with the knowledge that she always had the power. Lorelei wasted a lot of her life and the life of the men she was involved with in finding what was there all along.

    Reply
  • December 9, 2016 at 3:28 pm
    Permalink

    I love how flawed she is now. She grew up being so perfect and a little self righteous. She lived in books instead of in life. Everything came easy to her (very much like Hubble in The Way We Were). Now, she is living life like the mere mortal, and she is finding that its really hard. I love her search. I love that she is awkward, and blustery, and messing up left and right…It’s what she has to do to really find herself. Remember she has sort of lived in the shadow of this amazing woman who is her mom. She is now really finding where she fits. Who she really is. Yes she is like her mom, but she is not her mom. I’m really liking the development of the 3 women in the series. They are all changing so much. Rory is falling apart and looking at the pieces she has left and figuring how out the puzzle goes back together – and it wont be like before. Lorelai is settling in now. She is more comfortable, she figured out this portion of her life. She will be happy as long as she has Luke. Emily has mellowed. She is alone for the first time in her life. She has the opportunity to be whoever she wants to be. She’s never had that. I really love the development of these 3 women. Can’t wait to see more.

    Reply
  • December 9, 2016 at 6:29 pm
    Permalink

    Agree 100%, couldn’t have said it better.

    Reply
  • December 12, 2016 at 4:47 am
    Permalink

    I just loved this article and I agree with every single word, coma and dot. What I always loved about Gilmore Girls is how relatable it is.
    The show got me through high school and is getting me to college because whenever I get a “no” I go back to an episode and it shows me that I’m not the only one who’s not getting exactly where she wants. AYITL was just amazing and I will forever be thankful to ASP for giving us this six-hours experience. Rory, if anything, is more real than ever and she I believe the pregnancy (whether or not she keeps the baby) is the extra push she needed to actually become her own person. I loved the revival (and this article).

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *