I’ve written at length about my own dissatisfaction with the storyline presented for Rory. And it’s about more than storyline, it’s about being presented with a character who, when presented with difficulties, continues to live as if waiting for her next success to land in her lap instead of working for it. Amy Sherman-Palladino defends Rory’s issues as temporary, but perhaps they are more widespread based on how she was raised.
“She was in denial about what her career was, in denial that her living situation was less than delightful and in denial about what her romantic life was. Some people go through times in their lives when they don’t make the best choices. It doesn’t mean they’re bad people, it just means that’s a particularly weird time that they’re going through and later on, when they’re old, they can sit there and go, ‘Wow, I was kind of a dick for those six months.'”
An article on Bustle talks about this, bringing up the idea that during the year, we are presented with a Rory who is having a bad year, with everyone ladling on the praise to remind us that she did have success. And yet, as Bustle points out, it’s not nice to be told something, but rather to see it. And we didn’t see a successful Rory.
What’s more, as the article hints at, the empty praise points at the potential problem with Rory. While I agree that Rory did indeed become a character of entitlement, loving her jet-setting lifestyle (likely blowing through her trust fund to make it happen), expecting a life of entertainment (hello, Life & Death Brigade) and ease. Back in Stars Hollow, she was always clear to explain it was temporary. Like she was, in some way, too good for Stars Hollow.
The article hit me with one sentence: “It’s not really Rory I’m mad at, it’s the people who incessantly tell her — and viewers — how great she is.” And here, I want to diverge from the Bustle piece and examine this from a perspective of parenting.
Rory was born to a young mother who raised her as a friend. In many ways, Rory was the baby of Stars Hollow, with the whole town binding together to be her family. She was spoiled in so many ways, but praise most of all. Although you could interpret this as the beginning of “entitlement,” I would suggest this is not just an issue that affects Rory. There are a whole generation of kids brought up being taught they could do anything or be anything, all because they are special. There was a generational shift in parenting that focused on praise for the individual over praise for hard work.
Rory was a part of the over-praised generation, made perhaps worse by the additional praise of all of Stars Hollow coupled with the Gilmore money and name, which gave her ego an even bigger boost. As many articles have pointed out, in the workforce this is a catastrophe waiting to happen. Workers require constant ego stroking just for showing up, not for the work they do. They expect praise and don’t know how to function without it. If they don’t get enough, they leave.
So, is Rory a victim of an over-praised generation? Unable to find her own future because the praise isn’t magically translating into opportunities landing in her lap? Unequipped to fight for her own future because people keep ladling on the praise?
What do you think?